Lily Belli on Food: Venus taps chef John Harry for Beachside, Glaum gains, Zayante mysteries & ‘foodies’ vs. ‘buffs’
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… Last month, Venus Spirits owner Sean Venus announced plans to open a second restaurant location in the Rio Del Mar area of Aptos in the spot where Café Rio used to be, by the end of June. This week, Venus tapped local chef John Harry to be the chef de cuisine at what will be Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen Beachside. You might be familiar with Harry’s work already — he was the original chef de cuisine at Alderwood in Santa Cruz before moving down to Big Sur to serve at the acclaimed Post Ranch Inn. More recently, he was a private chef before Venus and his wife, Grace, got in touch with him to head their new beachfront restaurant. Harry moved from Georgia to California to work with the unparalleled ingredients found on the Central Coast and calls local farms and producers “the true rock stars.” He says the menu at Venus Beachside will be seafood-leaning and influenced by his coastal Georgian roots, plus a few beloved items from the Westside restaurant and a low country take on sand dabs — a nod to Café Rio. “It’s my intention to breathe some life into this historic restaurant while honoring its established patrons and history through thoughtful service,” he says. Learn more about this passionate chef and the new Aptos restaurant in a Q&A with chef John Harry.
… Big-box grocery stores are not usually known for supporting local farmers, but as of this week you can find local eggs from Glaum Egg Ranch on the shelves at Safeway stores in Santa Cruz County. It doesn’t get more local than Glaum — the family farm has been a part of the Santa Cruz community for more than 80 years. It was first established in Live Oak in 1953, then moved to Aptos. Now, the third and fourth generations of Glaums raise cage-free and organic eggs outside of Watsonville. Glaum eggs are already widely available at locally owned markets and restaurants throughout the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay areas, and yesterday, for the first time, they were delivered to Safeway stores in Aptos, on 41st Avenue in Soquel and on Mission Street in Santa Cruz. Other stores will follow later in the week.
… *Note: This story was updated on 06/21/22. It incorrectly identified the nature of the business of the Trout Farm Inn. The owners of Beer Thirty, along with business partners Jessyka and Tachu Soto, have been reviving the old Trout Farm Inn in Santa Cruz Mountains. This week on Instagram, they teased a short video of shimmering blue water — clearly, the swimming pool is finished. I’d love to tell you exactly when we can all dive into the new space — sure to be a happening spot — but the owners aren’t yet ready to say. Cross your fingers that we will all be able to sip cold suds poolside this summer.
… It’s Election Day, and I’m hungry for the democratic process. There’s only one measure that directly affects local food businesses: Measure C, the county disposable cup tax. In March, I reported that an ordinance went into effect in Santa Cruz and Watsonville that charges guests 25 cents for a disposable cup, or offers a 25-cent discount if they bring their own reusable cup. But what becomes of that 25-cent charge? Measure C asks voters whether the business should keep it, or if it should share half with the county. Check out this helpful primer by my colleague Max Chun, and don’t forget to vote!
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers if they used the word “foodie.” I proposed that this word, used to describe people with an interest in food and food culture, had become problematic and might be due for an upgrade. On the other hand, perhaps I was taking it too seriously and needed to lighten up. A bunch of you wrote in and texted me to share your thoughts. Some proudly proclaimed their “foodie” status; others said they couldn’t relate to people who ate “pea shoot paste and anchovy foam.” Many suggested alternatives, including “gourmet,” “connoisseur,” and “gastronome” — all a little stuffy for my taste. I did like one suggestion of the word “buff,” as in “food buff.” Thank you so much for sending in your takes and creating such a lively discussion! I’m still open for more — text or email me your thoughts.
“We’re not going to point fingers or play any mean games. I don’t think that’s right. We’re going to take the higher ground and take care of the issues as they come.” — New Bohemia Brewing Co. owner Dan Satterthwaite. A series of anonymous complaints to the county targeted pandemic-era additions to the brewery and shut down its barbeque area, live music happy hours and outdoor canning operations, causing significant financial loss for the business. Read more here about how New Bohemia is dealing with the challenges.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
I’m in Montreal this week, on my first vacation since my honeymoon in September 2019. Earlier this month, my smarty-pants younger brother graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a master’s degree in architecture and design, and we’re celebrating that accomplishment with a family trip to visit him in Montreal, where he lives with his girlfriend. I can’t wait to dust off my college French, browse at the Jean-Talon Market, eat my way through the cultural centers throughout the city and stuff my face with poutine. My brother’s girlfriend even signed us up for a bagel-making class — who knew this Canadian city was known for its bagels? Normally, I’d welcome your recommendations, but I’m going to try to look at my phone as little as possible, and you can bet I won’t be checking email. There will be no newsletter next week — I’ll tell you all about it in the next issue of Lily Belli on Food on June 21.
THIS WEEK, I’M LISTENING …
…to an interview with local chef Jessica Yarr on “Paid The Cost Podcast.” I’ve been a fan of Jessica’s ever since I first tried her food at downtown restaurant Assembly. Now, she runs the pop-up Chicken Foot and channels her Ukrainian heritage into gorgeous, layered takes on Eastern European comfort food. I was surprised to learn that Jessica has known she wanted to cook professionally ever since she was a kid growing up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Listen in to find out more about one of the county’s most talented chefs.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ One more round: California lawmakers try again to extend bar hours to 4 a.m. (Los Angeles Times)
➤ Nine highly anticipated Bay Area summer, fall restaurant openings (San Jose Mercury News)
➤ California fast-food workers plan statewide walkout, demand better workplace standards (The Sacramento Bee)
Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.