The Chef Apprentice

Join a self-taught cook as he trains at a top restaurant

Paul and me.jpgAs I sign off, I must thank a few people for my apprenticeship and this blog.

I have to start with Paul Canales, my friend of 47 years.

When I approached Paul out off the blue last year and asked if he would consider me for an internship, he didn't hesitate. The executive chef of Oliveto said yes and he kept saying yes even after his better judgment probably made him aware of what a stupid idea this was. (Old friend, dredging up embarrassing old stories, hapless home cook, journalist in the kitchen, etc.)

I also was embraced by the owners of Oliveto, Bob and Maggie Klein, who knew me less well. They supported nearly everything I wanted to do (except, perhaps, chronicling some of the more extreme pranks in the kitchen).

Speaking off the kitchen, I can't begin to thank everyone there. A special shout-out to Paul Berglund, Brian Murphy, Curtis Di Fede, Kelsey Bergstrom, Carmen Tejeda, Adelino, Tigre and many others. All of you tought me so much, not just about cooking, but about character.

(In other words, you all are characters, which helped bring the story alive.)

Servers? I love you, and not just because you "comped" me more than a few glasses of wine.

Molly, Eric, Chris and many others - thanks for your insights. I hope to see you again soon, in the dining room, awaiting your recommendations.

At The Bee, this blog and the stories, photos and videos couldn't have happened with a huge cast of characters. Executive Editor Melanie Sill urged me to write it, and Managing Editor Tom Negrete and Features Editor Cathie Anderson helped make it happen. Copy Editor Jack Vaughn helped me "frame" the approach of the blog. Photographers Carl Costas and Manny Crisostomo ventured to Oakland to capture the scene in the dimly lit Oliveto kitchen, and Manny also produced two superb videos.

At KQED, Wendy Goodfriend was immediately receptive to the Chef Apprentice, which allowed me to join other great food writers on Bay Area Bites.

Thanks to all of you readers. You peppered me with questions, shared in my trials and tribulations and challenged me when I was whining or sounding too full off myself.
Almost lastly, a big thank you to my wife, Micaela Massimino, who supported me (financially and every which way) as I enjoyed this five-month sabbatical. Mickie, you are my passion, and the reason I have a passion for cooking.

By the way, when are you getting home? It's time to fire up the stove.
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About The Chef Apprentice

Stuart Leavenworth, an editorial writer for The Bee, will spend the next several months in the kitchen at Oliveto, a highly rated Italian restaurant in the Bay Area. As an apprentice, Stuart will start as a prep chef, preparing vegetables, soups, sauces and pasta fillings. Then he'll move on to more challenging assignments. He welcomes your questions. Read his first installment here. Email him at

March 2010

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