Bernal Cutlery Adds “The Mission-Focused Pantry”; Hanukkah Culinary Events – J.


Thirsty bear, a favorite haunt for organic, craft beer and tapas lovers in SoMa, quietly closed last month after 25 years in business.

Opened in September 1996, at its peak, it was an after-work hangout for many. (This columnist, in fact, remembers meeting a friend there shortly after moving to the Bay in 2000 to be editor-in-chief of J.)

Thirsty Bear has been recognized for its commitment to sustainability, being the first brewery in the region to brew beer from organic ingredients and to be certified as a green business.

“Although it wasn’t the hot spot it was, we were still doing well before the pandemic,” the owner said. Ron Silberstein, impresario of Jewish beer.

Silberstein took advantage of PPP loans at the start of the pandemic, but without tourists, conventions and office workers, business has been slow to say the least.

Ron Silberstein, owner and brewer of Thirsty Bear for 25 years, will put his energy into malt barley.

Since “we never handed out our beer, we didn’t have room for a canning line, and our food was meant to be eaten here, we didn’t have the right infrastructure to rotate”, did he declare. “My decision was made for me.

While looking to sell Thirsty Bear, Silberstein isn’t outside the beer business – far from it, in fact. All his energies will now go to Admiral Maltings in Alameda, which he describes as “the first malting barley plant to open in California since before Prohibition.”


Another restaurant affected by its downtown location is Bluestem Brewery, which announced a significant change when it reopens this month. Owned by a Jewish restaurateur Adam Jed and his wife Stacy, it now has a new name and a new concept called Bluestem restaurant and market. In addition to the restaurant and bar, there is a retail market, a few items influenced by “Jewish culinary tradition” (like chicken liver) and from Jewish pastry chef Lori Banker a crunchy cinnamon babka muffin. Customers can order via a mobile device if they wish, and dine on site or find high-quality prepared meals to take out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including cocktails. Bluestem Restaurant & Market is also worth a visit as it is located right next to the Contemporary Jewish Museum at 1 Yerba Buena Lane, SF


Jewish owners of Bernal cutlery transformed part of their knife store into a “mission-oriented pantry,” with $ 1 of each transaction going to Zero food footprint, a non-profit organization launched by Karen leibowitz (which we talked about in 2016) and her husband, Anthony Myint, to fight against climate change. The pantry is stocked with items from artisan producers; all have a commitment to ethical sourcing and / or are people the owners or primary purchaser know personally.

“We tend to be moved either by our principles, or by the heart, or by spiritual motivation,” said Kelly kozak, who runs the store with her husband, Josh donald (we wrote about them recently when they started offering kosher knife sharpening).

Josh Donald is co-owner of Bernal Cutlery, the only place in the Bay Area certified to sharpen knives for use in kosher kitchens.
Josh Donald is co-owner of Bernal Cutlery, the only place in the Bay Area certified to sharpen knives for use in kosher kitchens.

The pantry was envisioned during the darker days of the pandemic, when Kozak wondered how to pay his employees.

“I was doing a lot of practical things then, like helping my staff connect with unemployment, but I tried to see this as an opportunity, and working on it gave me something positive to focus on,” said Kozak.

The pantry is a great place to shop for holiday gifts for your foodie friends. It’s at 766 Valencia St., SF


Two food-focused Hanukkah events caught my eye. The first is a mochi donut making workshop sponsored by the interfaith organization 18 Doors, led by Kristin Eriko Posner, about which we have already written. Posner, who lives in San Francisco, is the founder of To feed, a lifestyle brand that encourages multicultural families like hers to create their own new rituals. Posner can often be found in his kitchen, creating new recipes that combine his love for Japanese and Jewish foods, and mochi donuts are the latest. The workshop will take place at 5 p.m. on December 2 on Zoom, for $ 18.

The second is a olive oil tasting is happening in Berkeley, sponsored by the group of young adults at Congregation Netivot Shalom and worn by a member of this group, Yael Cohen, founder of the culinary blog Nosherium. Cohen invited an olive oil expert Roberta klugman, which we talked about here, to select the oils. The tasting will take place outside in the courtyard of the synagogue on December 5 at 5 p.m. Vaccination cards will be checked and masks must be worn outside the tasting. The event is free and people can register in RSVP to [email protected].


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