David was chef at the ever-popular Dottie’s True Blue Cafe in San Francisco before joining the front-of-house team at the Slanted Door. Debbie Phan recruited him to be assistant general manager for the restaurant, and David assisted in opening five Slanted Door group restaurants. A devoted fan of comforting, soul-warming food, David is inspired by his time cooking with his mother both at home and with her catering company. He remembers daily the love that came through those dishes and lingered in their kitchen. In an effort to bring this feeling into his cooking, David strips away affectations and focuses on pure, thoughtfully produced ingredients to expose the fundamental simplicity of good food. “If the person in the kitchen is cooking with these things in mind, it’s like they’re cooking for family and friends. That kind of cooking is what I thrive on, a collaborative effort that happens when you gather friends in the kitchen—cooking together, eating, drinking, the camaraderie. It all translates into the food. You feel the fun we are having over the fire.”
FRONT OF HOUSE MANAGER
Samuel presides over the Bull Valley Roadhouse dining room with the assurance of 20 years’ experience as waitstaff and manager in some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, including Mecca, John Frank and Charles Nob Hill. He was senior waitstaff at the Slanted Door before he pitched in with Earl Flewellen to run the Burlington Hotel and Cafe. The allure? Samuel longed for a change of pace and a more personal connection to his work. “I came out here thinking I’d get some time off and lounge about in the warm sun reading Jane Austen novels till the cows came home. But that didn’t happen! Earl kept saying ‘yes’ to new projects. So I now have more work to do than ever! But I’m happy about that.”
In 20 years as a graphic designer and art director, Earl saw graphic art transition from handwork to a software-driven occupation. Longing to work with his hands again, Earl moved with his partner, Samuel Spurrier, from San Francisco to the town of Crockett. Earl established a bee farm in nearby Port Costa, and, with the help of enthusiastic local residents, Earl and Samuel were soon running the Burlington Hotel and Cafe. Having earned the trust and support of the community, Earl spearheaded an effort to revive and restore the venerable restaurant next door, now named the Bull Valley Roadhouse. “Our endeavors here in Port Costa have been all about uncovering the beauty of things and opening them to the light of day, whether it’s an old hotel interior or a community’s dormant zeal for its own historical treasures. It’s all there. And it’s all coming back to life in an extraordinary way.”
CHEF DE CUISINE
Matt’s love of cooking bloomed early. At age 12, he asked his grandmother for a subscription to Bon Appétit magazine for Christmas. When she took him to eat at the Culinary Institute’s Escoffier restaurant in Upstate New York, he knew he would become a chef. From catering his grandparents’ parties with vegetables from his parents’ organic garden in the Poconos, Matt moved on to the Greenhouse Grill in Florida, Lark Creek in Walnut Creek, Barbara Mandrell’s Magnolias in Tennessee and Maverick in San Francisco. One evening in 2013, after suffering yet another traffic-snarled commute back to his home in Martinez, Matt read on Craigslist that Bull Valley Roadhouse was hiring. “It sounded like my kind of place, so I applied, got the job, and it was kismet. I love letting the pure ingredients we get from local farms shine through in the comfort food I love to cook and eat.”
A native of Albany in the east Bay, Tamir brings more than a decade’s experience as a beverage manager and bartender to Bull Valley Roadhouse, including stints at Oakland’s Pizzaiolo, Berkeley’s Acme Bar and Albany’s Fonda Solana as well as working with David and Samuel at the Slanted Door. Tamir loves having the creative freedom to make his own unique, unassuming cocktails in a relaxed, away-from-it-all restaurant that embodies his twin passions: giving customers a great dining experience and using the highest quality ingredients from sustainable farms. “All spirits are made from fruits, vegetables or grains grown in the earth, so I feel that knowing how the ingredients were sourced is just as important as knowing how the spirits were made. Whether you have one cocktail before your meal or a crisp, cool pint to go along with it, I try to make every drink memorable.”
With over twenty years of experience in the vibrant Bay Area dining and wine scenes, Bithiah has become a fixture in the hospitality industry having worked at such popular mainstays as Delfina, 111 Minna, The Slanted Door, and Range Restaurant. She began her rigorous wine training at Scala’s Bistro in Union Square, San Francisco in 1995, which invariably shaped her passion for wine education and service. Then in early 2000, Bithiah launched her career as a sommelier at The Slanted Door under the tutelage of then wine director Mark Ellenbogen, one of the most respected wine experts in Northern California. She took her knowledge to Range, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of the Mission, where she has meticulously shaped an eclectic, exciting wine program for the last several years, as well as consulted for many local upstarts in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Through her many connections and friendships, she has also landed at the Bull Valley wine program, and is thrilled to expand her love of wine and all things delicious in this wonderful collaboration with David, Sam, Earl, and the amazing staff at Bull Valley.