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Ina Yalof has authored a new book, called "Food and the City"

Ina Yalof has authored a new book, called “Food and the City”

“Food and The City”

My favorite read of the year has to be Food and The City (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). Think of the legendary, mesmerizing oral histories done by Studs Terkel, only concentrated on the food industry.

That’s just what journalist Ina Yalof has created in this book by shining a spotlight on people in the New York culinary world who aren’t often in the limelight. The profiles are not the usual celeb chefs, though there are chefs included. But rather, they are people like Mohamed Abouelenein, founder of the wildly popular Halal Guys food truck who also happens to hold a doctorate in veterinarian medicine; Alessandro Borgognone, an Italian restaurateur, who was spurred by an argument with his wife and watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” to open what would become a four-star omakase in Manhattan with one of Jiro’s apprentices; and Tunisian-born Ghaya Oliveira, who was on her way to becoming a stock trader when family tragedy struck and she was forced to pivot, only to eventually find herself rising through the ranks to executive pastry chef of Restaurant Daniel.

It just goes to show that real-life can so often outshine the best fiction.

Yalof is not a food writer per se, but a reporter who most often delves into topics such as science, medicine and religion. But her keen investigative sense serves her well here as she delves deeply into these people’s lives to find out how they got where they are today. Because they are recounted in oral histories, and this is a New York-based book, one of the pleasures is the vernacular on display. If you’ve ever visited New York, especially the old-school delis and mom-and-pop stores there, you know how colorful and distinctive native New York-speak is. It leaps off the pages here, making you feel as if you’re ease-dropping on a conversation by old-timers at Katz’s.

If you’re looking for a book to get lost in, that’s full of fun yet also remarkable insight, this is the one.

Celebrate the New Williams-Sonoma in San Mateo

San Mateo’s Hillsdale Shopping Center will welcome a new Williams-Sonoma store that also includes Williams-Sonoma home furnishings.

Chef Ryan Pollnow will be showing off his Basque-style tapas at the opening of the new store. (Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)

Chef Ryan Pollnow will be showing off his Basque-style tapas at the opening of the new store. (Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)

To kick-off the opening, the store will host a series of events, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 when Chef Ryan Pollnow of Aaxte restaurant in San Francisco serves up an array of pinxtos or Basque-style tapas with a gin & tonics. Register for this free opening party by clicking here.

The next day, Oct. 7 from noon to 2 p.m., the store will be in Oktoberfest mode with Magnolia Brewery on hand to dole out samples of its brews. Moreover, the first 100 folks through the door will get a free cookie from Doughbies.

Oct. 8 at 10 a.m., kids are invited to participate in a haunted house decorating class ($30 fee). And yes, they can take their cookie-house home with them, too. Noon to 2 p.m. that day, there also will be an artisans’ market with local purveyors showing off their wares.

Oct. 9 at 10 a.m., the store will host a techniques class, showcasing ways to use pumpkin.

Additionally, the store will be giving away a $1,000 shopping spree to one lucky person. Enter the sweepstakes by Oct. 7 by clicking on the link here.

One Market’s “Chef For A Day” Experience

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a real chef? You can get a sense by signing up for One Market restaurant’s “Chef For A Day” experience.

Chef Mark Dommen in the kitchen at One Market. (Photo courtesy of One Market)

Chef Mark Dommen in the kitchen at One Market. (Photo courtesy of One Market)

You’ll start the day at 11 a.m. with Executive Chef Mark Dommen at the Ferry Plaza farmers market to learn about and shop for the best seasonal ingredients. Then, you’ll join Dommen in the kitchen at One Market to assist with dinner prep, as well as work with Pastry Chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler to create that night’s desserts, before joining Wine Director Tonya Pitts for a wine tasting to select wines for the meal that night.

You’ll break at 3 p.m., then return to the restaurant at 6 p.m. to enjoy dinner with the wine pairings.

The “Chef For A Day” experience is offered on Oct. 8 and Oct. 29. A maximum of 14 people is allowed for each session. The price is $295 per person. To reserve a spot through Table8, click here.

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