Here we are well into our 8th year of Polly’s Paladar Supper Club, and  I am honored to host these next two chefs who come to me through my oldest and dearest friend, Amalia Mariño. Amalia was our guest chef at two sold-out Paladars a few years ago (one was Colombian, and the other was Low Country cuisine). Some of you may remember that James Ranch Lamb al Asador or her southern fried chicken. Personally, I will never forget either. She connected me with Julya and Steve on a whim, and I couldn’t be more pleased. We don’t get to eat Korean food around here, and I have never even had a Korean Paladar! I immediately said yes and learned so much about Korean food in the process.

According to a book of customs, Dongguk Sesigi, the women of the Goryeo era taken as maids (or ladies of the court) to Mongol’s Yuan Dynasty, ate ssam. By the end of the Joseon era, ssam had become an established seasonal dish.  And thus we see the impact of women in food culture once again. Leave it to the ladies to start a trend. Also, I asked Steve what the term “nokni” meant to them after I looked up the translation and found that it might mean “yolk”… like egg yolk, but he laughed and said that it was the baby jibberish made by his niece when she tried to say “uncle”!  I love that.

Each Paladar feels like an original creation emerging from years of dreams, family traditions, and the confluence of hopes. My wish is for you to leave each Paladar with this understanding. You experience a multitude of details representing decades of culinary craft. The circumstances that bring these individuals together to create a Paladar are nothing short of remarkable, and you get to see it all. It’s kismet. This one just happens to be Korean kismet.


Nokni is basically Korean and authentically Steve and Julya who met at Chez Panisse over ten years ago and are now making a fresh representation of Korean roots grown in Northern California.  The food centers around Ssam- It means “wrapped,” and is one particularly and especially pleasurable way of eating Korean food.

As a young girl, Julya identified with her Korean heritage primarily through cooking with her great aunt. They would spend hours together foraging for wild greens and cleaning dirty globs of wild scallions to prepare as banchan. After nine years at the helm of Oakland’s Pizzaiolo and Penrose, she is ready to channel her deep love of Korean with passion.

Steve’s first food love is sweet and tangy American BBQ. It was probably that memorable impact that spawned a lifetime of enthusiastic eating and eventual career as a cook and a chef. After being Chef De Cuisine of Michelin starred Terra Restaurant and traveling through the South Korean peninsula for one year to learn about authentic Korean flavors, he is excited to participate in the ever growing conversation about Korean food.

Together, Julya and Steve are popping up in Oakland as they prepare for their restaurant, Nokni.Press:

Berkeley Side

SF Chronical

New York Times

CALIFORNIA HERITAGE INDIGENOUS RESEARCH PROJECT (CHIRP) was created to research, document, preserve, and protect California Indigenous Nisenan culture. As an essential first task, CHIRP has been following the history and stories of the Foothill Nisenan people of the Nevada City Rancheria. They have played a vital role in the re-introduction of the Nisenan people to the non-native community now residing in the Nisenan homelands of the Bear and Yuba River watersheds.  Nevada County where the Nisenan once had a federally recognized reservation. CHIRP lead efforts to restore the Nisenan exhibit at the Firehouse No.1 museum in Nevada City, California, where some of the last remaining Nisenan Tribal artifacts are archived and available for public viewing. CHIRP continues to support the Nisenan in their quest to re-establish themselves as the Indigenous people in the foothills where their families have resided for thousands of years. CHIRP’s area of influence is mainly the counties of Sierra, Yuba, Sutter, Nevada, Placer, and Butte.
Thanks to all of the generous Paladar members who have chosen to participate in the quest to lower the seat prices at Polly’s Paladar! The first goal is to generate $1000/month using the patronage platform, PATREON.COM. We are 19% funded! This income goes directly toward making seat prices lower which opens up the supper club experience to more people. The costs are rising! Consider giving us as little as $1/month.  Read this: If 17% of followers who love Polly’s Paladar (in all of our platforms combined) gave $1/month, we could lower prices dramatically.  That is incredibly do-able!   There are some great rewards as well. Patrons can hear interviews recorded with past chefs, see menus before anyone else, get a free beverage at Paladars, and even grab some house-made shrubs.  We also have a reward to receive VIP access to early ticket releases! Also, for the die-hards, we have a tier giving automatic seats and drinks to every Paladar as long as the donation is active!NO PHONE POLICY:
A word about phones. The reasoning behind wishing for an interpersonal connection and a desire for guests to completely relax in the present moment when they are at the supper club holds value. The photographer takes pretty pictures. The guests eat. Food aficionados take photos of their meals. It is fun. It is real. It is a thing. For this one night, power the phone down. Give it a try! It is okay to keep the mystery alive at Polly’s Paladar!

To clear up a bit of confusion, I have decided to spell out a little bit how the supper club functions. When you buy a seat at the ticket link, you are paying $80 to Polly’s Paladar. Your 20% service charge goes straight to the staff and servers, 8.375% sales tax goes to “you know who,” and a tiny bit goes to Tock (WHOM WE LOVE).  So, please be clear that the service charge goes to our incredible staff and NOT the MAN!

Amani Mudd (16) and Bella Davis (15) are two of the best teenagers on planet Earth. They are both available to babysit at ANY seating. I repeat, ANY SEATING! Please email [email protected]to request this extra service for the kiddos. Dine downstairs, and right upstairs, your little one/s are in the land of fun and games. Ages 3-12 preferred (but this is not set in stone). Bring a prepared dinner for your child.  If no one requests this service by APRIL 5TH, I am letting them off the hook, so if you are thinking about it, get right on that. $10/kid/hour. Side note: If you have a breastfeeding infant and want to come to the Paladar, please know that you are more then welcome. It can get loud, but most of the time babies hear that as white noise. We also have options available for private breastfeeding, if preferred.



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