We are very excited to announce Oliveto Commons, a series of lectures, classes, workshops, and discussions designed to to better engage with the neighborhood and offer a venue for a connected community. Driving our decision to launch the Commons is our 40-year interest and involvement in agricultural practices, and the desire to open up and make available our public space, with its outstanding new acoustical capabilities, for discussions on food and food-production subjects and activities in our community. We also want to offer a platform for agriculture-centered, pro-environment action for committed and interested parties, such as local farmers, urban gardeners, scientists, and activists.

We are driven by an ingrained curiosity and drive for continual innovation and improvement, and the Commons will be an effective way to better participate in the community and offer vibrant, inclusive, and real food experiences. A fully functional restaurant should offer more than just extraordinary food: it should offer a setting that is about connecting and all that that means.

Kicking off the Commons on March 1st will be Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies with Gary Nabhan, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award for his role in the heirloom seed and local food movements.

Future programs this spring and summer will include conversations with, and films about, important and thoughtful leaders in food, agriculture, and the environment. An ongoing discussion of how agriculture, soils practices, and how what we grow in our gardens affects our health and the environment will have a central place at the Commons. And, there will be plenty of fun to accompany the good information, participation, and food.

The Commons will feature programming in six distinct areas: It’s Complicated, a series of conversations about eating, cooking, and the politics of food, the first of which will be our event on March 1st; Wine & Spirits, designed to explore and educate guests about the world of wine and cocktails; How-To, skill building classes to offer home cooks culinary tips and tricks by the talented team at Oliveto and guest chefs; Oliveto Live, a series of musical and other live performances that fully utilize the acoustical capabilities of the Meyer Sound system; and Personal Story, a way for farmers, producers, and food luminaries to share the stories and inspirations behind their life’s work.

Oliveto Commons Spring Events:

Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies with Gary Nabhan
Sunday, March 1, 1 to 3 p.m.

The author of 26 books, Nabhan is an orchard keeper, seed saver, pollinator, habitat restoration ecologist and Ecumenical Franciscan Brother. His efforts with the Renewing America’s Food Traditions Alliance brought back dozens of fruits, vegetables, livestock breeds and seeds on the verge of extinction.

$15 tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Books available for purchase separately. Optional Sunday Supper Prix Fixe menu featuring native ingredients highlighted in Nabhan’s book will be available following the discussion for $40 per person


Front Porch Farms at Whole Hog Dinners
Wednesday, March 4, 5 to 9 p.m.

Oliveto will host the farmers from Front Porch Farms on the second night of their annual Whole Hog Dinners event (March 3 to March 7). Front Porch Farms is the first American farm to raise the 700-year-old Tuscan Cinta Sinese breed of pig and forest-feed it, using old and new methods of animal husbandry, to produce a pig whose intricate flavor and fat content make it ideal for salumi making. Reserve a table for this beautiful feast and celebration of The Pig, and hear the intriguing story of how Front Porch brought the Cinta here and what they learned about breeding and raising heritage animals using traditional methods. Oliveto’s friends from Front Porch will circulate throughout the dining room as dinner progresses. (Menu prices vary)


Aged Wine Tasting
Wednesday, March 25, 6:15 to 7 p.m.

Four rare wines from Oliveto’s one-of-a-kind aged wine program, comprised primarily of notable vintages of Barbaresco, and Barolo will be available to sample in a tasting led by Oliveto General Manager Shane Walker. A select bottle of aged wine will be available for purchase at wholesale price if participants choose to dine following the tasting.

In the Siena room. $30 tickets available on Eventbrite.


Knife Skills 101
Sunday, April 19, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

What knives you should keep in your home kitchen, what they are best for and how do you maintain them? Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will lead a class to answer these questions. Participants should bring their own knives for a sharpening and learn how to do it at home. They’ll also use their knives during the section on knife skills. ($20 per person)

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.


Maria Speck, author of Simply Ancient Grains
Saturday, May 30th, 1 to 3 p.m.

In Simply Ancient Grains, cooking with black rice, red quinoa, and golden Kamut berries is made easy and accessible by veteran award-winning food writer and journalist Maria Speck. Maria’s first cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, won multiple awards, among them the coveted Julia Child Award, and was named a top cookbook by both The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Maria will be discussing her book and the varied and intriguing world of ancient grains. A book signing will follow. (Free)

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.


Stephen Yafa, author of Grain of Truth, with Craig Ponsford of Ponsford’s Place
Saturday, June 6th, 1 to 3 p.m.

In his latest book, Grain of Truth, investigative journalist and award-winning screenwriter Stephen Yafa gives us back our daily bread. At a time when gluten is being denounced as the new asbestos, he sets out to separate truth from fiction. He discovers scientific evidence that mass-production processing methods and monoculture are the culprit, not the inherent genetic make-up of wheat itself. But there’s much more to the story. Artisan whole wheat impresarios like Craig Ponsford form an expanding national movement made up of young, enthusiastic stone-ground millers, growers and renegade bakers who are re-introducing strains of wheat with distinct flavorful personalities and proven health benefits. Their baked goods are probiotic; they break down bulky gluten molecules, provide vital nutrition and fiber, and above all, they’re delicious. But don’t take our word for it. Craig will provide ample samples of the masterworks that he bakes at Ponsford’s Place in San Rafael and talk about why he converted from white to 100 percent whole wheat flour. In addition, Yafa lets us in on a discovery that may change your life — there is in fact a perfect solution for non-celiac gluten-sensitive bread lovers, after all.

 Copies of the book will be available; a book signing and sample tasting will follow. (Free)

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

All Oliveto Commons events take place in the upstairs restaurant. We’ll be posting links to Eventbrite tickets as each event nears. For additional information, call 510 547-5356.