Kathleen Hill: Divewalk Cafe closing; Dunbar garden reviving

The Dunbar School Garden will bloom again!


Mario Batali dethroned

Chefs Mario Batali has had to step away from his restaurant group as a result of sexual misconduct allegations. After four women lodged complaints, ABC separated him from his co-host role on “The Chew” while they review the allegations, and the Food Network has said it will probably not bring back its “Molto Mario” show that put Batali on the map.

The flamboyant short and slightly-rounded food star owns 28 restaurants with Joe and Lidia Bastianich and Nancy Silverton, from New York to Singapore. He is known to many for the orange clogs he wore for decades and recently discarded, and his balding red pony tail seemed to purposely develop his man-about-town heavy-drinking womanizing persona.

When I interviewed British food star Marco Pierre White several years ago at Copia for my KSVY radio show, White told me Batali taught him how to be a “bad boy.” Last year when Batali visited Book Passage’s event to promote his book “Mario Batali, Big American Cookbook” at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads restaurant in San Rafael, I got to ask Batali about Marco Pierre White’s comment. Batali’s response was, “Oh no! He taught me to be a bad boy! Other way around.” By the time he finished signing my book he was on his feet, nose to nose and other parts touching. These guys thought all of these behaviors were cool and that they were just legitimately seducing women. But some women obviously thought otherwise.

Belcampo Meats has ended its collaboration with Belcampo by Batali as well, and immediately removed his products from their stores and website. Together they had produced spicy pepperoni, traditional salami, and cotechino distributed on the shelves of its seven locations throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Batali is not alone. Workers have just started to talk about abusive behaviors. Wednesday’s New York Times front page featured reported abuses by Ken Friedman, partner with April Bloomfield in San Francisco’s Tosca Café, as well as the Spotted Pig in New York. And Napa’s Michael Chiarello of Bottega in Yountville recently was graphically accused of similar charges.

Springs Community Hall Pancake Breakfast

Finally, the much-loved Springs Community Hall Pancake Breakfast is back on Dec. 14. This is what we used to call the Grange Pancake Breakfast, made with all organic ingredients.

Enjoy organic local wheat pancakes, sausage, organic eggs and seasonal vegetable fritattta, juice, coffee and espresso included. $12 adults, $6 children. 9 a.m. to noon.

Springs Community Hall, renamed due to a disagreement with the national Grange, works toward “Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy Community.”

The October fires delayed the pancake breakfast, and after the fires the Community Hall turned over the center for the distribution of meals donated by Facebook and their Bon Appétit Management caterer. 18627 Highway 12, Boyes Hot Springs.

Help Glen Ellen restaurants

Many restaurants, their chefs, servers and other workers are suffering right now. Many of their past customers who came to their houses here on weekends and went out to dinner lost those abodes and aren’t coming and going out to dinner.

People who live around the Bay Area think Glen Ellen is gone. It is not. It’s alive but needs a boost. If you are thinking of going out for a meal, try Glen Ellen restaurants such as Aventine, Yeti, Umbria, Fig Café & Wine Bar, Garden Court Café and Glen Ellen Star.

Divewalk Café closing

Due to newly-discovered fire department requirement to add a new fire-retardant tent and Sonoma Springs Brewing’s planned expansion within the old Nicholas Turkey offices, Lorene and Marc Reed have decided to close the Divewalk Cafe at the end of the year, and are thinking about reinventing themselves again.

They wrote, “It didn’t make much sense for us to sink more money into a place we have to leave in a few months.” Lorene also owned and ran Planet Organics, which she started in the late ’90s in San Francisco and moved to Sonoma in 2003 to deliver fresh organic produce to homes and restaurants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lorene gets teary-eyed just thinking about not seeing their regular customers and friends, but says, “Stay tuned to our emails and FB page because you ain’t seen the last of us yet!”

Dunbar garden and another phoenix rising

As many of you know, the Dunbar School Garden and stage were burned to a crisp in October. Sonoma Valley Unified School District officials made it clear that the community may not bring in volunteers to rebuild the stage for the annual play that has brought Dunbar alumni home for 26 years.

But no one said anything about the garden, except our fabulous garden coordinator Alissa Pearce, who told me, “We have Dunbar angels who sometimes appear in the night.” But this time the angels were there in full force and visibility.

According to Pearce, such angels include Anthony Estupiñan, Amanda Conceição, Renea Magnani, and Sheana Davis among many others.

Pearce says they “dismantled all 28 raised beds that were lost, salvaging any good wood that remained, took out about two dozen fruit trees that burned, and started taking down the old chicken run.

“Our PTO has been very supportive of me in my ‘new’ role as garden builder,” says Pearce. “I think their GoFundMe campaign has raised $8,500 of their $10,000 goal. Lasseter Family Winery also posted on Facebook on Nov. 10 that 50 percent of sales of their Amoureux wine (I believe until the end of the year) will be donated to Dunbar and Sonoma Valley Rotary.”