We are proud of every person who works in our Oliver’s stores, and none more so than the good folks in our delis. Coronavirus has tested us all but has been especially hard on food service; thankfully, our deli has come back from these trials and tribulations in fantastic form, and it’s entirely thanks to the tireless dedication of our deli employees. One particular group we’d like to thank are the people behind the scenes who are the real secret to making our delis click: our chefs. This diverse, intrepid group of culinary professionals work day-in and day-out to bring an enormous variety of freshly prepared meals directly to our customers. Whether it’s creating holiday dinners fit for a feast or providing many of the fresh deli items that keep Sonoma County fed, we’d be lost without this incredible group of individuals. Their passion, creativity, and dedication fuel the fire of everyone they work with, both in the kitchen and out!
This week, learn a little bit about the real people that keep our kitchens humming, and find out their picks for the best dishes Oliver’s has to offer. Keep reading to check out our chef’s stories, and make sure you swing by your local Oliver’s Market to try their labors of love for yourself!
Mark Kowalkowski – Corporate Executive Chef
“After Graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, I returned home to Chicago and worked for a few years at several restaurants before moving to Hawaii where I cooked on Maui and Oahu. The past 11 years with Oliver’s have been great as the Corporate Chef. Offering “restaurant quality” food at all four locations gives our team a chance to be an integral part of the community and makes us a “foodie” destination.
My favorite Oliver’s item is the Chicken Tortilla Soup. This soup is so perfect. It has the right amount of spice. Its broth is fairly light but it’s a hearty soup that makes a complete meal.”
Mary Durham – Cotati Executive Chef
“I began working at Oliver’s in May of 2016 as Sous Chef in the Windsor store. In February 2019 promoted to Executive Chef of the Cotati store. Prior to joining Oliver’s, I was the Chef at the Greenbrae location of Mollie Stones.
My favorite Oliver’s Own dish is the Chicken Enchiladas. This is an item that, one is delicious, two is made in house, and three it’s an item that is what Oliver’s is all about. We use whole roasted Rocky Jr. chickens. Our house made Medium Verde Salsa, and cheese from Petaluma Creamery. All local ingredients.”
Charles Garcia – Montecito Executive Chef
“I joined Oliver’s Stony Point as Sous Chef August 2014 and was named Executive Chef for Montecito in 2017. My professional background includes work at Zin Restaurant and The Wild Oak Saddle Club. I am a graduate of Le Jardin Du Maitre culinary program in 2003. My favorite Oliver’s Own dish is the Asian Flank Steak, available in our Chef’s Case. This is such a perfect protein. There is so much you can do with it. It makes a perfect main dish, or it can be added to a salad or even a stir fry style dish. We us Choice Angus Beef which gives us the quality we look for in our kitchens.”
Pedro Cortez Sanchez – Stony Point Executive Chef
“I have lived in Sonoma County since 1995 and have a passion for cooking. I joined Oliver’s in 2000 as a Cook and designed the beginnings of our signature Home Meal Replacement program at our Montecito store. I opened the Stony Point Location in 2007 as the Sous Chef and oversaw the growing commissary kitchen for the Company where we produce the great selection of prepared foods that you see at all four of our locations. In January 2019 I was promoted to Executive Chef at Stony Point. My favorite Oliver’s dish is the Work-aholic Breakfast Burrito. I love grabbing one of these burritos in the morning.”
Nick Zielke – Windsor Executive Chef
I was born in Santa Rosa, CA. I started cooking as a way to get through college, by the time I received a BA in creative writing from New College of San Francisco, I had cooked in South lake Tahoe, Chico and in some of the top restaurants in San Francisco. Since then, I have not looked back and have worked as a catering chef all over Sonoma and Napa counties and went back to San Francisco to explore the restaurants scene again. Ten years ago, I took a position with Oliver’s Market where I have been able to utilize all my skills and support a great local company in my home county. One of my favorite dishes to make and eat are the Korean Street Tacos in our Windsor Tavern. They have just the right amount of spice. That mixture of sweet and savory is fantastic.” (Look for these when the Tavern Off the Green reopens).