Some great news coming out of Bayview: my longtime chef pal Eddie Blyden is now Director of Culinary Education at OLD SKOOL CAFE, the youth-run, 1920s-style, jazz-themed supper club. He started in July, and has been getting situated and handling staffing (they have a new GM as well). He met founder/CEO Teresa Goines when he used to volunteer with kids in Bayview back in 2005, so this feels full circle for him.
All I can say is the youth who work at the supper club (who come out of the system of incarceration, foster care, and other challenging situations) are going to learn so much from this talented chef who has cooked all over the world (he’s originally from Sierra Leone)—they will become farmers’ market insiders, and chef Blyden also loves to grow his own food.
We met back when he was the opening chef at The Alembic, where he became known for his jerk-lacquered chicken wings and oxtails served as a two-cheese Welsh rarebit (unforgettable!). He has been private cheffing of late (“A lonely existence!,” he exclaimed to me), so it’s great to know he’s back in the mix. I’m seeing his touch on the international soul food menu, which includes his famous clam chowder from his days at Miss Pearl’s Jam House. You’ll see many names on the menu, which highlight recipes from students working at Old Skool, like Jordan’s fried chicken and Daniel’s gumbo; chef Blyden tells me some mothers come in to teach their family recipes, so amazing.
Each cohort includes 20-30 students (ranging from age 16-22) who learn cooking skills (some have cooked at home, but many are new to the kitchen), front-of-house duties, and they also learn life skills, like banking. Chef Blyden mentions they go on field trips to places like a horse ranch, and will be learning how to harvest walnuts in Colusa soon.
Old Skool Cafe serves dinner Thu-Sat 5pm-9pm (happy hour runs 5pm-7pm) and live entertainment is from 5:30pm-8:30pm. Saturday brunch has returned, with sweet potato waffles with fried chicken and honey pecan butter and live jazz, 10am-2pm. Plus, they added outdoor seating during the pandemic, and there’s also takeout and delivery. Please keep Old Skool Cafe in mind for holiday events, buyouts, and catering—your support makes a big difference. This impactful organization is also holding their 10-year gala on October 22nd, I will share more info on that very soon! 1429 Mendell St. at Oakdale.
The Old Skool Cafe during a Behind the Cart event. Photo: © tablehopper.com.