Brick Oven Lovin' Again Benefit: Headlands Center for the Arts

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eduardo morrell
Eduardo Morrell

It's muddy, it's rainy, it's what better way to come together on a wet winter weekend than in celebration of a big wood-burning oven? The Headlands Center for the Arts is hosting Brick Oven Lovin' Again, a night of dinner and music on Saturday, February 21st, at 6pm. All donations go towards recouping the costs of renovating the center's massive wood-burning brick oven.

The benefit is the brainchild of Eduardo Morrell of Morrell Breads, who bakes all his naturally leavened hearth breads in the center's oven. For the last 8 years, Morrell has been baking breads for both the center and the Berkeley Farmers' Market, using the oven created by master oven-builder Alan Scott. While a separate memorial is planned for March, the benefit will also honor the life's work of Scott, who passed away in his native Australia on Jan. 26, 2009, at the age of 72. It will be a locavore's delight, with a focus on the produce & meats donated by Morrell’s fellow Berkeley market vendors, including Happy Boy Farms, Pomo Tierra Orchards, Happy Girl, Highland Hills Meats, Full Belly Farm, Riverdog Farm, and more.

morell making pizza
Photo by Christina Z. Libertini

Served family-style in the arts center's dining room will be caramelized-onion and margherita pizzas, grass-fed beef stew, wheat-berry pilaf (made from Full Belly wheat), squash and citrus salad, sauteed kale and miso, green salad with goat cheese and apples, breads, pickles, spreads, and more, followed by apple crisp and chocolate ganache tart. In the kitchen will be alums from both Millennium Restaurant and the Headlands kitchen, including Morrell, Vince Peterson, Stephanie Hibbert and Ari Derfel. Playing jazz after dinner will be John Ingle (sax), Lisa Mezzacappa (bass), and Kjell Nordeson (drums).


morrell making pizza
Photo by Christina Z. Libertini

But what's so special about this oven? Built 17 years ago, the oven was part of Scott's first generation of quality ovens. It worked, but it wasn't perfect, something Scott freely admitted as he became the Bay Area's foremost authority on hand-built, wood-burning brick ovens. So, last year, under Morrell's supervision, the oven got a full revamp, preserving the decorative elements created by Scott along with the concrete foundation but installing all new insulation and firebrick. Scott's own apprentice, Quill Chase did the work. Now, says Morrell, it's much more efficient, using less wood, heating evenly, and holding temperature throughout hours of baking. It's an oven that honors Scott's work as it continues to feed another generation of artists and Bay Area bread lovers.

Headlands Center for the Arts, 944 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965. Saturday, February 21st. Dinner at 6:30pm, music at 8:30pm. A donation of $50/per person is requested for dinner and concert (children 7-13 $10 each; under 7 free); $15 donation for concert only. [ Map ]

Attendees are asked to RSVP online for the dinner. For directions and additional information, go to Headlands Center for the Arts.