THE MOMENT I met her, I knew she was a Minnesotan. Her crisp white apron, the way she came out on the porch to greet me for lunch — that’s so Midwestern. Kim Cole lives in Redwood Heights today, but her cooking career goes back to those childhood days in Marshall.
“Growing up, we had pizza all the time,” she remembers. It was Chef Boyardee Pizza in a Box — a staple in every Midwestern mom’s pantry. “I needed to get close to that (taste) but with my East Bay sensibilities.”
Cole worked on a recipe for almost a year, and finally came up with the organic dough she markets today as Mom’s Pizza Dough. In a word, it’s delicious. Easy to use, you just thaw it in the package and spread it out on a pan, adding your own special ingredients. A little olive oil, some fresh veggies and cheese and voila! — you have a culinary masterpiece.
Cole is a one-woman operation. She makes her dough in a commercial kitchen in Montclair called A Chef’s Eye. She markets it, delivers it and does the bookkeeping while her daughter is in preschool. So far, 12 stores carry her product in the Bay Area, including Rockridge Market and Berkeley Bowl.
Will Cole get rich making dough? Profits are thin, but rising every day.
“I’d like to eventually open a take-and-bake pizza place,” she says. Until then, she’s just happy to be doing something she loves, and helping folks put a healthy meal on the dinner table. For more information, see Cole’s Web site athref=”http://www.momspizzadough.com”>http://www.momspizzadough.com.
Zoo Do: Speaking of culinary masterpieces, the Oakland Zoo’s Walk in the Wild was a huge hit the other night. Men dressed in khakis and women wearing leopard prints got a rare treat — a moonlit party where the animals were the stars. And the food was fantastic. P.F. Chang’s served lettuce wraps; Skates had Kobe Sliders; Spengers was barbecuing oysters and the owner of Compadres, Rick Enos, was serving up savory burritos. The East Bay’s best restaurants, wineries and brew pubs lined the pathways offering hearty samples of their fare. This event has come a long way since it started 14 years ago. It’s a real class act, and one of the many things that makes the Oakland Zoo one of the best in the nation.
Around Town: After months of anticipation, El Agavero is finally open for business in the old Round Table Pizza spot on Mountain Boulevard. What a transformation! The Pelayo family has done a great job of decorating and their light, airy restaurant and bar are a welcome addition to the village. You’ll be surprised, too, at the prices, which are modest by Montclair standards. The father, Gregorio, says he tried to keep the costs close to what he charges at his Fruitvale restaurant, Guadalajara. To that end, the whole family helps. The mom, Rosa, runs the taco trucks, and the kids, Al, Fernando, Maria, and daughter-in-law Nancy, work inside the restaurants. It’s nice to see a family-owned operation in Montclair and I wish the Pelayos the best of luck!
Sweet Deal: There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but you can find a free dessert. Just ask hills mom Sabrina Stewart, who entered the Dreyers Neighborhood Salute contest, last spring, and won $200 worth of free ice cream. It’s the perfect prize, since Stewart has a block party on her circle drive every September. Twelve cartons of ice cream will arrive just in time to set up a sundae table at the block party with bananas and nuts and all the toppings. It’s tough to top that!