Oakland chef offers ‘a la carte’ Caribbean cuisine and soothing bush tea during coronavirus lockdown – CBS San Francisco


OAKLAND (CBS SF) – It didn’t take long for folks in Oakland’s ‘essential service’ food scene to step up and make sure their customers are well and well fed, during the coronavirus lockdown .

Celebrity chef Sarah Kirnon, owner of Miss Ollie’s Caribbean restaurant on the Swan Marketplace, offered a sliding scale menu on Tuesday, starting at 11:30 am “until the food runs out.”

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Eating in restaurants was banned from midnight Monday in six Bay Area counties during the pandemic.

“We pay what you can. We will limit groups to 10 people and practice social distancing, ”said Kirnon, who was born in Britain and raised in Barbados.

(Courtesy of Sarah Kirnon)

Chef Kirnon arrived at the Bay in 1999 and quickly made a name for herself. She opened Miss Ollie’s in Old Oakland in 2012 and has been serving Afro-Caribbean dishes like ackee and salt fish, plantains, and traditional rice and peas ever since, along with an incredible list of rums.

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On Tuesday, as neighbors and business owners mulled over swift action to stem the coronavirus pandemic, Kirnon offered patrons his famous island recipes along with a soothing hot cup of traditional Bush Island tea . Filled with herbs and spices, customers could chase it away with a glass of “overproof” rum.

She urged customers to take good care of themselves and spend time with loved ones, “with a can of pan fried chicken, a mason jar of bush tea.”

Kirnon says that in addition to walk-in shoppers, many small African-American businesses were buying large “take out” orders all day long, a huge boon for its bottom line in these tough times.

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“Blacks keep the economy… our economy alive,” she said.


Michael M. Tomlin

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