The beloved gourmet rotisserie truck was in full effect, loaded up with glistening porchetta, juicy lemon and herb roast chickens, and a new addition, baskets of golden arancini, rotating at a hypnotic pace.
Amidst the music and enticing wafts of roasting raclette waiting to ooze over hearty slabs of bread, Thomas Odermatt, founder of Roli Roti, could be seen smiling ear to ear, greeting guests, personally handing out his famous porchetta sandwiches, and urging everyone to eat as much as possible.
The party was not only a celebration of Roli Roti, but of all the hardworking farmers, producers, supportive family and friends, and loyal fans that have made each of these ten years possible. This was a community celebration and everyone got involved.
The baker from down the street brought the (intensely decadent) cake. The third-generation chicken farmer who pasture-raised those free-range birds on the spit enjoyed the fruits of his labor with gusto. Even the local oracle was in attendance, patting children on the head, moving wilting flowers out of the sun, and overall just giving everyone around her an extra little jolt of energy with her presence.
When I asked Thomas about his connection with Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, he explained:
“Alice and I know each other from the farmers market. We also know each other most recently from Slow Food Nation, where she invited me to be a vendor. The way we came together is, she wanted to try my chicken, we met at the skateboard park in Berkeley — not that we skateboarded together — but, we tasted the chicken there, and since then we’ve kept in contact.”
All the proceeds from the Roli Roti pop-up benefited Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard.
“I really admire the idea of Edible Schoolyard,” he continued. “I think that kids should dream of how good a carrot can be. That’s a dream that Alice is really spearheading, and I cannot support it enough.”
Carrots are great. So is crispy skin.
Happy Birthday, Roli Roti. We can’t wait to see (and taste!) what the next ten years bring.
This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on October 2, 2012.