5 Questions with Restaurateur Christopher Pastena
CHRISTOPHER PASTENA -- owner/operator of the wildly successful Calavera, Chop Bar & Tribune Tavern -- has worked in the restaurant industry for over 35 years and began experimenting in the kitchen at age 14. Pastena took his first job in a professional kitchen during college where he cooked full time while earning his Bachelor of Science in Accounting. After graduation he traveled Europe, visiting his family in San Pablo, Italy. His first night in San Pablo he dined at his family’s restaurant and his cousin Vincenzo’s command of the operation inspired Pastena to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America in New York immediately upon his return to the States. Years later, and all three of his successful Oakland restaurants have received national acclaim for their food, cocktails, wine on tap system, and décor.
BFiO: Whose food in Oakland do you enjoy as much as your own?
CHRIS: There are so many choices, though I really do enjoy eating at Grand Lake Kitchen.
BFiO: What food do you think is overrated?
CHRIS: In & Out Burger and Cheesecake Factory.
BFiO: What’s missing in the Oakland food scene?
CHRIS: I've always thought Oakland could use a great steakhouse.
BFiO: At what local markets do you shop for ingredients/food?
CHRIS: I am really enjoying shopping at Rocky's Market at Brooklyn Basin. I have been riding my bike to pick up dinner for the wife since it opened a few months ago and it is a quality market!
BFiO: What does The New Normal look like for Oakland restaurants & food businesses in the age of COVID-19?
CHRIS: I can say with confidence that we will not see the same revenues. I think the entire restaurant experience will be different and for those customers who are flexible, I think they will still find it enjoyable. Naturally, the focus will not just be on the safety of restaurant customers, but the safety of staff as well.
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