• Chef Solomon Johnson

Best New Restaurant 2018 Eastbay Express Winners

I remeber moving to California in 2013 and not really knowing how i'd make a mark on the food scene in Oakland. The community here is so tight knit it almost seemed impossible to find my own nitch and stand out. But after a few years on the line in a few good resturants and constant soul searching not only did I find myself through food. I also found my passion for the african diaspora and through that the food commuity in the EastBay excepted me as one of their own. As a young chef finding your identity can be difficult, but as you grow you'll find that the best food comes from your roots and your home.

My matriculation process here in oakland has brought me through some great food programs. I'm truly blessed for some of the relationships I have in this industry. I've always wanted to work for a place where I could create openly with a chef and have people eat alot of my food all the time and be rewarded for it. When I say rewarded I dont mean anything tangible. I want the respect of the community I provide the services too. In years past i've worked with Chefs who not only asked me for recipes, but they would keep them for themselves and accept any accolades that came along with them. I made a promise to myself to NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN.

When I started working for Copper Spoon in 2017 I spoke with the Chef and asked him what he expected to happen in the first year. His reply was bold "Michelin Guide Recommendation". I like the tenacity. It was inticing and a challenge I was more than willing to accept. My reply was simple " anything is possible, but I know we will win Best New Restaurant at the very least". I dedicated 1000% of my effort every time I stepped into that kitchen. My commitment was to consistency and precise execution DAILY. Some days I wouldnt leave the kitchen until the sun came up. But every night even the long ones were worth it. Why you ask? The chef gave me credit for my creations and suported them whole heartedly.

Fast Forward to July 25th 2018. I remebr just getting a random surge of anxiety. The voting had been done for almost two weeks and I completly forgot to check up on the results. I remeber frantically searching the eastbay express website for any signs that we may have won. It felt like an eternity and I know I was holding my breath the entire time. I found the "READERS POLL WINNERS" SECTION after almost passing out from lack of breath. As I scroll closer and closer to the bottom what do I see....

I dropped to my knees and just cried. I dont know if it was a mixture of fatigue and excitment, but it was the perfect storm of emotion. I was so overwhelemd I couldnt even move. I remeber calling the chef and saying "I told you so" and just laughing uncontrolably. This moment solidified so much for me as a chef for a few reasons. The most important reason was personal validation in my vision. I knew from day one that I started there we would be the best new spot in the town. There was just too much passion and talent in the restaurant for us to swing and miss. The front of the house is so amazing and the back of the house matched that. I KNEW IT.

The second reason was to prove to myself and to the commuity that the food products I created and put on the menu sold well and was considered some of the best in town.

It was the confidence I needed to jump start the next big push in my career independently.

Ill be leaving Copper Spoon in November and I want to wish them all the best of luck. They will be here for years to come to provide the best experince possible and I cant wait to see what the future has in store for them. Tap the eastbay express pic for a link to their website and place your resevation. Ill be there or a few more weeks and im planning a kitchen takeover for my last night there so stay tuned!!!!!

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