Animal rights
Monica and Aaron Rocchino of Local Butcher Shop in 2014 (Photo/Cathleen Maclearie)

Butcher shop concedes to graphic animal rights protest; bagels, chicken and books ramp up

It’s not every day that a small, family-owned business makes national or international news. But the Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley did last week, with articles in the Guardian and the Washington Post, not to mention our local media.

The store, owned by Camp Tawonga alum Monica Pallie Rocchino and her husband, Aaron Rocchino, was hounded for months by animal-rights protesters until the owners agreed to put a sign in their window declaring that “killing animals is unjust no matter how it’s done.”

The animal liberationist group Direct Action Everywhere had been holding graphic protests outside during the shop’s butchery classes for the last several months.

Sydney Mintz, a friend of Rocchino’s and a rabbi at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El, weighed in on her Facebook page: “And now a diversion from National Madness to our own local lunacy!!! Please support my favorite butcher shop and amazing small business in Berkeley run by two of the menschiest human beings on this planet. Besides being delicious, they specialize in locally sourced and sustainably raised meat. Now, go buy some and tell them the Rabbi sent you!”

Monica Rocchino said business has improved since the press coverage started, and they’ve fielded supportive phone calls from around the country. While the Rocchinos certainly appreciate the spike in business, she added that “it’s not worth the anxiety and trouble and time of the last three months.”

Glütless, the gluten-free bakery off Union Square started by Israeli scientist Golan Yona, who I profiled earlier this year has closed. In a Facebook post Yona wrote that it just wasn’t sustainable. He is going back to doing research at Stanford, but wrote, “I am keeping alive for now, and will try a limited delivery service on days that I’m off. There is something addictive about baking bread, and the human touch aspect is important to me. We’ll see what lies ahead…”

In further news about baked goods, Beauty’s Bagel Shop is expanding. According to Eater SF, the Montreal-style bagel outlet owned by husband and wife Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen will open early next year at 1700 Franklin St., in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood. The existing one is in Oakland’s Temescal.

Meanwhile, in other bagel news, another person is stepping into the fray to answer “Why can’t we get good New York bagels in San Francisco?” Emily Winston has been baking bagels as a hobby for six years now, though she’s recently upped her game through baking classes and a website. The name: Boichik Bagels.

While the Alameda resident is known for making lighting fixtures out of recycled glass bottles (she was on the cover of Alameda Magazine), she is now turning her attention to bagels, specifically like those made by the now-closed Manhattan chain H&H. She is in such an early stage that we don’t even know when we’ll be able to sample some, but we wanted to be the first to report it. Watch this space for more details, or sign up for her newsletter to be in the know.

There soon will be another place to get a bowl of matzah ball soup in Oakland. Proposition Chicken, which has offered a variety of fried and rotisserie chicken at its original location in the city on Market Street since 2013, will open a second location on Oakland’s Lakeshore Avenue in September. (If you can’t wait, a bowl of matzah ball soup also can be had at nearby Grand Lake Kitchen.)

Proposition Chicken is owned by Ari Feingold with Maxwell Cohen and Elizabeth Wells. Feingold, who has been profiled in this space, is also the co-owner of the circus-themed restaurant Straw, and has coordinated the food vendors at the Outside Lands Festival for many years.

Two new cookbooks by Bay Area Jewish chefs are coming out in September, and they couldn’t be more different.

Gabi Moskowitz, who has gotten plenty of ink in this column since her blog BrokeAss Gourmet inspired the TV show “Young & Hungry” on the Freeform network, will publish her fourth cookbook on Sept. 12. It’s called “Hot Mess Kitchen” and is co-written by “The Mindy Project” writer Miranda Berman, with a foreword from Mindy Kaling herself.

The book is clearly targeting a certain demographic, with such dishes as “F– It, Let’s Just Get Stoned Nachos” and “Bounced Check Burrito.” Local book events are happening in late September.

The second book is by vegan chef Philip Gelb. “Vegan Underground: Improvisations on World Cuisines” is a follow-up to his first book, “Notes from an Underground Restaurant.” Gelb is a chef and musician who offers curated and cooked vegan meals and concerts in his Oakland loft space. He was the subject of this column last year. The new book features vegan versions of recipes he makes from Thailand, Trinidad, Jamaica, Sichuan province and Japan, and can be bought from his website.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."