Seven years ago, Sunnyvale’s Bart Hosmer moved his family from Chicago to the Bay Area in order to become the executive chef at Santa Clara’s upscale restaurant Parcel 104. Today, Hosmer is still bringing his extraordinary farm-fresh innovation to the tables of South Bay restaurant diners.
The value of buying local, organic produce is one that stems from the ideals of Bradley Ogden, the chef and co-owner of both Parcel 104 and the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, where Hosmer began his culinary career.
“Growing up in Marin, I knew about Lark Creek Inn and those farm fresh values that [Ogden] had,” Hosmer said. “I did an externship there and loved it.” From then on, he was hooked.
The man behind the stove
Hosmer’s initial interest in Ogden’s commitment to locally grown, fresh produce was something that was further encouraged by his upbringing. When he was a child, his parents shopped almost exclusively at local farmers markets.
“It was really more out of a financial necessity,” said Hosmer, “[but] there was obviously some consciousness about the health benefits about buying direct from the farm and buying seasonally.”
Hosmer, 36, first became interested in cooking as a child, and cites his mother as a culinary inspiration. “My mom was a master of making something out of nothing,” he said. “I have these vivid memories of the Caesar salad being tossed tableside and literally thinking that that was magic.”
That early inspiration followed him to culinary school at City College of San Francisco. His training and background led to chef and executive chef positions at some of the nation’s most prestigious restaurants, including Molive in Chicago.
Hosmer moved back to the Bay Area to help develop Parcel 104, finally settling in Sunnyvale with his family. “I’ve always wanted to work and live and have my children attend a school in the community that we live in,” he said. “[Sunnyvale] just seemed like a perfect fit.”
Parcel 104, named for the plot of land on which it sits, specializes in seasonal fresh American fare. The inspiration for the theme of the restaurant came from the history of the Santa Clara Valley, which was formerly made up of fruit orchards. Parcel 104 itself was formerly a pear orchard.
“We wanted to celebrate that ancestral heritage and play off that in terms of the theme,” said Hosmer. The theme is apparent in both the restaurant’s food and its interior design, which sports classic American hardwood and elegant neutral earth tones.
The restaurant’s motif is also present in the three annual events it hosts. The first, an all-you-can eat barbecue, celebrates both California’s culinary culture as well as its beautiful summer weather, which guests can enjoy on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. The following two events, the annual cheese and mushroom dinners, take place in August and November, respectively, and highlight locally supplied cheeses and mushrooms. At the dinners, the artisan cheeses and mushrooms are paired with premier wines picked by Parcel 104’s master sommelier, Randall Bertao, allowing for a truly extravagant celebration of local organic produce.
If you go
Parcel 104 will host its annual summer barbecue on June 23, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The menu will include gourmet hot dogs, baby back ribs and sweet corn. The cost is $19.95 for an all-you-can-eat ticket. Wine-tasting will be available for an additional fee. Call 408.970.6104 to make a reservation, or visit http://www.parcel104.com for more information.
This piece originally appeared in The Sunnyvale Sun.