Michael Goldfarb is a partner of Comestible: Fine Catering & Supper Club, which takes care of everything from dinner parties to corporate catering. So he couldn’t have foreseen that intimate Shabbat dinners would become a big part of his business amid a global pandemic.
That’s what happened to the Oakland-based chef when all of his corporate clients and events were canceled after March 2020. It was weekly chicken dinners with sides and desserts that helped keep the operation going, meals that were also popular outside of the Jewish community. .
Working with several synagogues in the East Bay, Edible then offered Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah menus.
“We basically tried to work with every holiday we could, to bring people high-quality food with lots of love, to offset the whole pandemic,” Goldfarb said. “We cooked our hearts out for a year and delivered the food, which kept the lights on until things got back to a bit of normal.”
One such Jewish event took place last year when Goldfarb and its business partner provided Shabbat meals for a LABA program at JCC East Bay. The menu included sumac-crusted chicken or za’atar fried mushroom schnitzels, both with mint chimichurri sauce, matzah ball soup and honey-roasted carrots.
We cooked our hearts for a year and delivered the food, which kept the lights on.
Some weeks there were so few orders that they not only prepared the food but also delivered it. It was worth it, Goldfarb said, because they saw how meals brought joy to people back home.
Yelp reviews confirm his observation. Judy S. from Oakland wrote, “Edible’s weekly dinner has become a highlight of our week and an almost wonderfully guilty pleasure during this difficult time. We have never been disappointed.
They have also partnered with some East Bay non-profit organizations, providing meals to people in need.
Goldfarb, 34, who goes by the name “Chef Mikey,” was born and raised outside of Los Angeles in Westlake Village and Agoura Hills in a home where Jewish holidays were celebrated. He wanted to go to culinary school right out of high school, but his parents wanted him to go to college. He enrolled in San Francisco State University, which is how he ended up falling in love with the Bay Area and its food scene. What he didn’t fall in love with was college. He told his parents he was giving up and then enrolled in the California Sushi Academy in Los Angeles (he loves sushi and Japanese food).
After graduating, he returned to the Bay Area and cooked at sushi bars and fine dining restaurants, including Roy’s and Spruce. In 2014, he left for Birthright Israel, then stayed a few months in Israel to cook.
In 2016, Goldfarb moved to Portland to try its hand at corporate catering, with clients including professional athletes and Nike headquarters. Although catering hasn’t been on his chef’s radar, he said he’s come to appreciate the creativity involved. Plus, “I learned that I could make more money than running around feeling tired all the time,” he said.
He ended up moving back to the Bay Area, where he worked as a private chef for Noah Jacob, an alumnus of Wise Sons Delicatessen who launched Edible in 2013. Just at the start of the pandemic, Jacob moved with his family to his native Portland. , and Goldfarb and partner William Hughins took ownership in 2020. (Jacob will soon open a Jewish grocery store, Jacob & Sons, in Portland.)
“Noah has been a huge inspiration to everything we do,” Goldfarb said.
This includes everything from intimate dinner parties (supper clubs) to large festive events with hundreds of guests, from “appetizer service spent with white gloves at a taco bar, from a bar mitzvah brunch to a seated wedding.”
While from a business perspective Goldfarb is grateful the events are returning, he seems a little nostalgic for the days of cooking for families during the pandemic.
“We do a lot of b’nai mitzvahs. It seems like everyone is starting to celebrate again,” he said.
“I wish we could still do the meals,” he added. “But we were barely covering our costs like we used to, and now people don’t really need it anymore. People leave. »