Q&A: Haven Chef Charlie Parker

Q&A: Haven Chef Charlie Parker haven-jack-london-square

In the heart of Oakland's Jack London Square area, Haven is one of the city's prime casual dining spots, serving generous shared dinners and revamped comfort food classics. The man in the kitchen is executive chef Charlie Parker, a fresh Oakland resident and a proud father of a toddler. Originally from Menlo Park, he moved to Oakland for the job after working at numerous regional dining destinations, including Michelin-starred Manersa in Los Gatos and Rene Redzepi's iconic Noma in Copenhagen. haven-chef-charlie-parker"I like Oakland a lot, it's always sunnier than San Francisco in the summertime, the food scene is fantastic—great little restaurants are popping up, in a more laidback style than San Francisco,” Parker says. "Alice Waters protégés are everywhere, and its very fun and ingredient-driven." He recently shared more details with us about living in Oakland and a behind the scenes look at Haven. What are your favorite Oakland restaurants? Pizzaiolo, Boots and Shoe Service, Hopscotch, Cosecha, Adesso. I like places with comfortable atmosphere, since a lot of times I'm with my son. The people in those places are laid back and the food is really good, with seasonal beautiful ingredients. They're letting the food shine and not overpowering it. Does the local food scene feel like a community? We run into each other at the farmers market and around town and going to each other's restaurants. It's a great bunch of people, very very inspiring. What do you like about cooking in Oakland? The farmers markets, how close we are to Napa Valley and Wine Country and the produce here is so amazing. It makes it almost easy. What's the Jack London Square clientele like? There is lot of traffic from San Francisco, which is nice. It’s a younger generation and people who are interested at where the food is coming from. We also have older clientele from Piedmont and Berkeley, and when we opened the patio, younger folks who just want to have a hamburger and relax started arriving, too. How would you describe your menu? I would describe the menu as new American, family style, with a tasting menu. You mentioned your son – what do you do with kids in Oakland? We live close to the train, and he's completely happy with it—he loves watching it. We go walking around the grassy area new Jack London Square, watching boats. He loves pizza and he's going out all the time. I'm OK with that. What do you like to do when you are not at the restaurant? On my days off I like spending time with my son, my girlfriend and family. Being outside, watching Bay Area sport teams and BBQing.
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