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Kathleen Hill: New chef to help feed Sonoma’s most vulnerable

Chef and business owner Anea Kamahele has joined Sonoma Home Meals, formerly known as Meals on Wheels of Sonoma.

Kamahele will combine her business skills with her chef experience to perform the duties of an executive director to create and delineate volunteer assignments, and find a place to relocate the group’s kitchen for “the upcoming remodel and repurposing of the Trinity Episcopal kitchen and pantry,” according to board members’ statement.

She will also lead the Thursday kitchen crew as a volunteer cook.

Kamahele’s culinary experience reads like nostalgic modern history of Sonoma food. At age 14, she first worked at the old Shone’s Market on Broadway near her parents’ State Farm Insurance office. She cleaned the rotisserie chicken machine every day after school under the tutelage of manager Helen Thornsberry, who also taught Anea how to make chicken noodle soup.

She went to cooking school in Norway as a 16-year-old exchange student, eventually studying and working in Florence, Italy for three years after college. Returning to Sonoma, Kamahele worked for Charles Saunders’ Eastside Oyster Bar & Sunnyside Café where Della Santina’s is now, and later at his Southside Saloon & Dining Hall in Healdsburg, working her way from server, pastry chef and garden manger to sous chef in Healdsburg.

As a third generation State Farm insurance agent, Kamahele follows her grandparents, Charlie and Jeanne Deenihan, and her mother, Jill Deenihan Kamahele, in owning their agency here in Sonoma currently. All that time she has also worked as a private chef catering in homes.

Along the way she met Rebecca Hermosillo, then of the Teen Center and now lead field representative for Congressman Mike Thompson, which led to Kamahele volunteering at the Teen Center where she cooked dinners for teens who dropped in, taught teens to cook, and was a founder of Lovin’ Oven, recently folded into the Boys & Girls Club. She also created Valley Girl Foodstuffs with teens to benefit the Teen Center.

Until now, Kamahele, her father Jim Kamahele, and her kids, Gretchen and Hudson Botton, all help her pick up donated food for Sonoma Home Meals, as she has for many years.

She is now charged with modernizing the nonprofit’s systems upon the retirement of Sue Holman and Susan Weeks who led Meals on Wheels for decades.

The nonprofit caters to housebound people who are unable to shop or cook for themselves.

Joey Chestnut stuffs his mouth with hot dogs during the men's competition of Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in New York's Coney Island. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)
Joey Chestnut stuffs his mouth with hot dogs during the men's competition of Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in New York's Coney Island. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

Sickening record

Joey Chestnut just beat own his world record on Sunday, July 4, in Coney Island by downing 76 hot dogs, buns included, in 10 minutes.

While I watched him set one of his previous records of inhaling dogs at Sonoma Raceway, I honestly hope he goes somewhere and barfs right afterward.

The 37-year-old San Jose State graduate has won this contest 14 times and is a professional competitive eater, which, just thinking about it, is kind of sickening. That’s to say nothing of all the hungry people we have in this country and around the world who could use a hot dog. Just one.

We are not judging him or Nathan’s hot dogs or Nathan’s fantastic marketing of their products, just giving a personal reaction. According to several sources, Chestnut has earned about $1,000,000 in contest prizes and endorsements by eating more and faster.

His latest triumph was in the 2021 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and he is “currently ranked first in the world by Major League Eating. Chestnut unofficially holds over 50 world eating records – everything from Twinkies to tamales,” according to Phil Sklar, founder and CEO of The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

And yes, Joey Chestnut just became bobbleheaded, which just happens to be available only through Sklar’s museum.

I just heard that there is a movement, yes, a movement to get hot dog bun bakers to package buns in packs of 10 instead of the current eight, to match Nathan’s hot dog packs that have 10 sausages in each.

Reportedly Nathan’s gave 100,000 beef hot dogs away free to New York City’s Food Bank and has developed a meatless hot dog.

Tyson has recalled a million pounds of chicken. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Tyson has recalled a million pounds of chicken. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Tyson chicken product recall

Tyson Foods, Inc. of Dexter, Missouri, has recalled nearly one million pounds of chicken products due to possible listeria according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Much of this product was distributed commercially to schools, “and was not part of the food provided by the USDA for the National School Lunch Program.”

Tyson claims the “ready to eat (RTE) chicken products may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.” Adulterated?

Schermeister Winery closes for five months

And it is good news!

After struggling through the pandemic and losing lots of sleep worrying about whether they would also lose their whole dream investment, Laura and Rob Schermeister have sold out all the wine they made and had. There is nothing left. Nada. A great success.

So they celebrated that news recently on their fourth wedding anniversary and have closed their tasting room from August through February so that Rob can focus on (and have a) blast making their wines.

Laura seems to be happy too, having just posted “I finally have time to get back to making quilts and want to learn how to make my own botanical dyes. I'm really proud of us both for doing the big hustle these first few years to get up and running, and now it's time for a little rest. If you're around, come see us before we close.”

Reel & Brand operates out of a historic 1906 building, a 100 seat outdoor patio and a stage for live music on weekends. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Reel & Brand operates out of a historic 1906 building, a 100 seat outdoor patio and a stage for live music on weekends. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Reel & Brand brewery dinner next week

Since managing partner Kevin Kress sees his winemaker dinners as highly successful, he is now embarking on his promised brewers dinners, launching with Mare Island Brewing Co. of Vallejo.

If you go, be sure to ask the brewery’s rep the history of the coal sheds and the name Mare Island.

Interestingly, the brews are listed first, with food secondary at this Thursday, July 22, dinner. “Blonde Ale served with beer battered cheese curds and habanero feta dipping sauce, followed by Mare Island’s Nuclear Sandwich IPA with bourbon candied bacon, fire-roasted poblano, goat cheese grilled cheese sandwich; and Coal Shed Stout with Yeehaw Coffee chocolate chip bread pudding with caramel sauce and candied hazelnuts.” $65 inclusive. 6 p.m. 401 Grove St., Sonoma. Reserve at 938-2704.

Mary’s Pizza Shack on the Sonoma Plaza. (Index-Tribune file photo)
Mary’s Pizza Shack on the Sonoma Plaza. (Index-Tribune file photo)

Mary’s Pizza’s new dine-in menu

As Sonoma restaurants re-open and re-staff, many offer shorter menus that try to focus on locals’ favorite dishes.

Mary’s offers a one-page menu printout that keeps lots of faves such as bruschetta, various breadsticks, the “He & She,” garlic bread, soups, salads including a Cobb and an Ancient Grain Salad with red and brown rice, kale, black barley and red quinoa mixed with romaine and arugula, chickpeas, cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese.

The newish crispy chicken sandwich is all it’s cracked up to be with cabbage and arugula slaw, Italian salsa verde, Calabrian chili mayo, all on a toasted bun with pickled red onion. You can still get their meatball sandwich, a chicken and bacon club, hot dog in a blanket, lunch combos with a slice of pizza, soup and salad, spaghetti with a giant meatball, loads of pastas and a protein plate with grilled chicken breast or one-third pound of Harris Ranch beef patty topped with sautéed mushrooms and garlic or sautéed vegetables. They also offer cauliflower pizza crust for a little extra.

Desserts are on the wine and beer menu for some reason. But rest assured that the mud pie, gigantic cookies sundae, the brownie sundae, and tiramisu alla Mary are all there and meals in themselves.

And of course, pizzas with new pricing, which are happening everywhere.

As usual, Mary’s in Boyes was the first and only place Hill kids and their kids needed to go for dinner when they came home over July 4th weekend. We found everything to be great, including the pleasant and considerate new employees. There is hope for this world.

Getting pickled at Flatbed Farm

Reserve quickly for Flatbed Farm’s next seminar on Sunday, July 25.

Guests will learn the differences between a quick pickle, a canned pickle and a fermented pickle. Who knew?

You will also find out why kimchi bubbles up and how to make sure your pickles are safe.

Flatbed chef Amie will explain different methods of pickling and fermenting and will take everyone on a “pickle and kimchi tasting journey” while sharing tips and tricks for preserving foods this summer. 9:30-11:30 a.m. $125 includes supplies and take home jars of pickles and kimchi. Flatbed will serve coffee, tea and water. Class limited to 15 participants.

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