Jossel in an apron smiling in the kitchen
Laurence Jossel at Nopa, his restaurant in San Francisco.

Dianne Jacob’s ‘Will Write for Food’ gets 4th edition; Nopa turns 15; Sabra still alive

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

“Will Write for Food: Pursue Your Passion and Bring Home the Dough Writing Recipes, Cookbooks, Blogs, and More” is out this month with a fourth edition, a milestone for a book.

Considered a bible of sorts in the food-writing community, the book, first published in 2005, is by Oakland-based writer and editor Dianne Jacob. It has made her an in-demand speaker and workshop teacher (like many, she has pivoted to teaching online workshops during the pandemic).

Jacob has quite the Jewish backstory, with roots in the Iraqi Jewish community. Her parents and grandparents lived in Shanghai, by way of India, and Jacob was raised in Vancouver. In an award-winning essay about her family’s love of mangoes, she wrote that her immigrant parents did not fit in with other Chinese immigrants nor with the Jews in Vancouver, who were all Ashkenazi.

Diane Jacobs, author of "Will Write For Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More."
Dianne Jacob, author of “Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More.”

Jacob will be celebrating the new edition with a talk at Omnivore Books. While events have resumed at the beloved San Francisco culinary bookstore, only 15 people are allowed, and they must pre-buy the book to guarantee their seat. Books can be signed outdoors afterward, and the shop asks that only those who are vaccinated attend. Jacob’s event is Sunday, June 13 at 3 p.m.

Mazel tov to chef Laurence Jossel, owner of the popular Nopa on Divisadero Street, a favorite late-night hangout restaurant, for reaching 15 years in business in San Francisco. Writer Rachel Levin interviewed Jossel for the occasion for the S.F. Chronicle. Like so many in the industry, the restaurant had to pivot during the pandemic, and Jossel took a role in feeding homeless people and essential workers. In addition to its wood-grilled burger, Nopa became known in the past year for a new menu item, fried chicken. As J. reported in 2017, Jossel is an immigrant from Johannesburg, South Africa, whose family came to the U.S. when he was 7. His grandfather Solly Jossel was saved from the hands of the Cossacks and went on to become a big macher in the Johannesburg Jewish community.

Sabra Grill is still squeaking by, Eitan Hilleli told J. in a follow-up call to see how the San Francisco kosher joint was faring. We reported in February that he was in danger of closing and a friend of the restaurant launched a crowdsourcing campaign to help keep it open. Hilleli told J. he plans to keep it open, but business is still slow.

Eitan Hilleli (right) with his son Joseph at Sabra Grill.
Eitan Hilleli (right) with his son Joseph at Sabra Grill.
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."