Melissa Reitz, Locanda, featuring Oya Organics

Saturday, August 11, 2018, 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm

Stop by the CUESA Classroom for a cooking demo featuring the seasonal bounty of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. This demo will highlight a farmer-chef relationship forged and sustained at the farmers market, featuring Oya Organics.

Melissa Reitz grew up in Central Virginia and Oregon. College-bound, she started off studying art at Temple University but transferred to the culinary program at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Melissa began her cooking career at several well-known Philadelphia restaurants before setting off on a backpacking adventure in Northern Spain that would cement her love of the cultural traditions around food and wine.

She moved to San Francisco in 2004 to work with Michael Tusk at Quince, where she learned about  California cuisine and regional Italian cooking. She took that learning a step further by moving to Italy for 3 months as a volunteer for WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), working at a cheese-producing sheep farm in Abruzzo and at a family orchard in Emilia-Romagna.

She returned to San Francisco to work at Zuni Cafe, learning from Judy Rogers about balancing flavors and tasting food. Since then she has worked at Pizzaiolo Restaurant, staged for several months at a restaurant in Alba, Italy, opened Camino restaurant as sous chef, and run the kitchen at Bar Agricole as Executive Chef. While at Bar Agricole, she earned the restaurant 3 stars in the SF Chronicle and put it back on the Top 100 list.

She is currently the Chef de Cuisine at Locanda Osteria, where focus of the kitchen is on Roman classics as well as Southern Italian influences and local California ingredients.

Marsha Habib started farming as a one-woman, one-acre operation to serve the community and create urban and rural connections. Oya Organics gradually grew to more acreage as her partner, Modesto, and other people joined the farm. They now run a fully diversified farm with about a dozen employees they call their partners and family, but they aim to keep the operation small enough stay close to the needs of their farmland and community. Oya Organics uses organic practices to take care of and build resilience in the soil, plants, and people. They rotate between 50 annual crops, including tomatoes, squash, brassicas, beans, peppers, and peas, while allowing weeds and insects to coexist in a healthy ecosystem.

All demos take place in the CUESA Classroom (under the white tents in front of the Ferry Building) and are free to the public, with recipes and samples for all.