NOKNI is basically Korean and authentically us. Steve and Julya 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 FOOD 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.