By AIM Staff: Grand Lake Oakland Market Manager, Devon Fryer | May 7, 2018
Browsing the stalls at one of AIM’s farmers markets is Chef David William’s weekly ritual. First stop, Straus Creamery for milk. Then strawberries from Rodriguez Farm, then some of Marin Roots Farm’s edible flowers for garnish. On the menu today at The Bull Valley Roadhouse: cereal.
“I cook by feeling and desire” Williams said. “If I feel like eating cereal, I put it on the menu.”
Crafting The Bull Valley Roadhouse’s menu of “Californian comfort food” is akin to solving a puzzle for Williams—each piece is represented by produce that is currently in season. Much of that produce is found at the Grand Lake – Oakland and San Rafael farmers markets. And although a bowl of cereal is a rarity on the menu, realistic staples include crispy beer battered green beans, halibut ceviche and Prather Ranch dry aged ribeyes.
This creative approach, which is fueled by access to local ingredients, is the foundation on which Williams has built his restaurant. The restaurant’s location—at the end of a road in the relatively remote 200-person town of Porta Costa—is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the farmers markets that Williams frequents, but he loves his visits and sees them as “a way of life.”
“Chefs don’t get out much,” Williams said. “It’s nice to be immersed in a like-minded community [at the farmers market].”
Every time he visits the market, Williams nurtures the relationships with the people whose products he uses, and brings those beautifully local products to the table for customers from across the Bay Area. With such a diversity of ingredients grown locally, Williams would “find it strange to eat something flown from across the country,” he said.
When asked about the direction that the food industry is going, Williams stressed that the fast-paced lifestyle more and more people are adopting makes it difficult for them “to take the time to cook for themselves anymore.” To accommodate that change, he is considering converting their café next door into a grab-and-go style addition to the restaurant.
But, rest assured, that same creativity, flavor and love will continue to come through in Williams’ cuisine regardless of the venue. With his food, he strives to invoke those “feelings of being loved and cared for as a kid through a meal,” he said.
Though he grew up in Los Angeles where there was “no connection to where your food comes from,” his parents’ catering business served as an entry point to the world of cooking. Over the years, culinary school and a variety of experiences in the restaurant industry rekindled his interest in cooking. His passion for food education, however, has never waned. This is why his favorite thing about the farmers market is AIM’s commitment to teaching children about sustainable agriculture, eating healthy and buying local through various educational programs.
The Bull Valley Roadhouse continues to flourish and has been recognized as one of the Bay Area’s top 100 restaurants by the San Francisco Chronicle. With his creative eye, unique inspiration and passion for the farmers market community, AIM is proud to claim Chef David Williams as one of our most loyal shoppers.
Bull Valley Roadhouse a bridge from past to present (SF Chronicle, 3/8/18)
Find inspiration and follow @bullvalleyroadhouse and David @farmtofacehole