Flea Street Cafe

Post image for Charlie Parker returns to his hometown as new chef at Flea Street Cafe

Growing up in Menlo Park, Charlie Parker would walk with his parents and siblings to Flea Street Cafe. “I remember some of [owner] Jesse’s signature dishes from the time I was 12,” he said. “Like ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’ and the sardines. There was always a good salad and a warm dining room.”

After graduating from Woodside High School, Charlie attended the California Culinary Academy and has gone on to work at notable restaurants throughout the state. Now he’s back in his old ‘hood working for Jesse Cool as Executive Chef at Flea Street.

Cooking is something he always liked to do. “I started cooking for my family when I was in sixth grade,” he said. “My grandmother was southern and a good cook. I’d come home from school and watch Great Chefs, Great Cities. And, as a sophomore in high school, I helped John Bentley out when his restaurant was in Woodside.”

During his years in the kitchen, he’s gotten to work with some of the best chefs in the world. “David Kinch, Ron Boyd, Daniel Patterson and Jeremy Fox are my mentors. They taught me the importance of staying true to your craft, cooking seasonally and locally, and enjoying what you do,” he’s quoted as saying on the website, Culinary Agents.

He found his way back to his hometown thanks to a chance encounter his mom had with Jesse at Bianchini’s in Portola Valley one day. “Jesse told my mom that I needed to call her,” he said. “I was at Alfred’s Steakhouse in the City at the time but thinking about other options. When I got together with Jesse, I knew I couldn’t pass this opportunity up.”

The Flea Street menu now reflects Charlie’s talents and style. One innovation is a monthly wine cellar dinner that pairs some of the older and best wines with a four-course meal. The next is scheduled for Feb. 22; there is also a special menu and wine pairings planned for Valentine’s Day. Both can be reserved by calling 650.854.1226.

“Coming to Flea Street as a kid kindled my desire to cook,” he said, adding with a smile, “and now here I am!”

Photo by Irene Searles

{ 1 comment }

Jesse Cool and Mitchell Johnson share art, food and admiration for each other

Thumbnail image for Jesse Cool and Mitchell Johnson share art, food and admiration for each other

Think of them as bookending the stretch of the Alameda in Menlo Park between Sharon and Walsh roads. One a restaurateur feeding the body. The other a painter feeding the soul. Jesse Cool, owner of Flea Street Cafe, and artist Mitchell Johnson are joined together in what has been a mutually beneficial partnership for about five years with the […]

Click to read more →

Things are peachy at Cool Café in Menlo Business Park

Thumbnail image for Things are peachy at Cool Café in Menlo Business Park

The Cool Café located on O’Brien Street in the Menlo Business Park is undoubtedly the most hidden of restauranteur and cookbook author Jesse Cool’s food “empire,” which includes the Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park and an additional Cool Café at the Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus. But it’s the place she’s chosen to turn all […]

Click to read more →

Oprah Winfrey interviews Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at Menlo Park’s Flea Street Cafe

Thumbnail image for Oprah Winfrey interviews Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at Menlo Park’s Flea Street Cafe

Editor’s note: Jesse Cool, owner of Menlo Park’s Flea Street Cafe, hosted two well-known women – Oprah Winfrey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg – who engaged in conversation over the restaurant’s signature biscuits. The interview (and the biscuits) are featured in the just-released April issue of O Magazine and will be aired this Sunday, March 24 at […]

Click to read more →

Webb Ranch ACE tomatoes make their way from field to produce stand – and to the menu at Flea Street Cafe

Thumbnail image for Webb Ranch ACE tomatoes make their way from field to produce stand – and to the menu at Flea Street Cafe

With news that Webb Ranch’s Ace 55 tomatoes were ripening and available for purchase ($3.49 a pound), we wandered out for a chat with produce market manager Deano Lovecchi, who took us on a tour of the fields. About the Ace 55: An individual tomato can weigh about a half a pound. It’s round in […]

Click to read more →

Catching up with Jesse Cool about programs that give back locally and globally

Thumbnail image for Catching up with Jesse Cool about programs that give back locally and globally

Imagine sitting down with Jesse Cool and not talking organic food or sustainability or what was happening at her restaurant (Menlo Park’s Flea Street Cafe) or other eateries. Of course, when you’re at her home, it’s impossible to ignore the large organic garden and the chickens in the backyard. While we did drift out to […]

Click to read more →

Terma Costa talks about how women are changing the way we eat – and how we can all be advocates for sustainable food

Thumbnail image for Terma Costa talks about how women are changing the way we eat – and how we can all be advocates for sustainable food

It’s women who are changing the way we eat says Temra Costa, who is working hard to evangelize that fact. The sustainable food and farming advocate – and author of recent book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, will be talking about just that at Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park on Sunday, […]

Click to read more →

Jesse Cool – Menlo Park’s food matriarch

Thumbnail image for Jesse Cool – Menlo Park’s food matriarch

Can it be true?  Jesse Cool’s Flea Street Cafe – founded on the principles of local and organic – has been around since 1981, a very long life in restaurant terms. “It’s fabulously busy,” Cool exclaimed on a recent Saturday night. “We’re very, very lucky.” The almost 30 years haven’t always been easy for the […]

Click to read more →