Starting this summer at the Oakland Museum of California, Tanya Holland will head a new cafe serving up California soul food. Town Fare at OMCA will be the second post of the chef and former Top Chef contestant, whose celebrated restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, recently relocated to Broadway near Grand Avenue. (The San Francisco Ferry Building location of Brown Sugar Kitchen closed last month.)
“Unpretentious and delicious” is how Holland describes the upcoming menu at Town Fare, which will open in August after OMCA undergoes a $20 million renovation. As part of the remodel, led by Oakland's Hood Designs and San Francisco's Mark Cavagnero Associates, the museum’s garden and cafe will be accessible to the public without an admission ticket. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, Town Fare is expected to stay open late for the museum’s weekly Friday Night at OMCA programs.
Holland explains over the phone that she’s inspired by recent conversations around agriculture’s role in global change. As such, the menu at Town Fare will be vegetable-forward (though not strictly vegetarian) and consider alternative protein sources. “The more operations I have, the more purchasing power I have, the more influence I can have,” Holland says of her role in fighting climate change as a restaurateur.
The vegetable-centered menu will also allow the chef to exercise some creative freedom. “I have a huge repertoire of cooking that I've not really been able to use because of the concept of Brown Sugar Kitchen,” says the French-trained chef, adding that she expects to collaborate with the museum and other chefs on special menus. “I really want to use this platform to embrace that, and do some pop ups with colleagues, and collaborate with the museum when they have special exhibits.”