Nelson German, Executive Chef/Owner of alaMar and Sobre Mesa, tells the stories of the African and Caribbean diasporas through cultural foodways at his two award-winning restaurants/bars in Oakland, Calif. Not only has German paved his way to national notoriety (highlights in Glamour, Delish, Washington Post, Food & Wine, and commercials for Coca Cola, Impossible Foods, and Pam Cooking Spray), he’s established himself as a community leader and curator of Oakland culture. German’s exquisite menus and architecturally-rich spaces invite a diversity of conversations and connections with Afro-Dominican recipes celebrating his roots. Contemporary techniques meet Chef Nelson’s favorite family dishes from his mother and grandmother’s recipe books.
Born and bred in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, German began his career in New York City at the popular seafood destination Joseph’s Citarella and the Gramercy Park Hotel with Chef Yugi Wakiya, from whom he learned refined approaches to Asian flavors. Six years after graduating from culinary school, German became Executive Chef at Absinthe Wine Bar (NYC) and Jerry’s Cafe (NYC). In 2010, German and his wife moved to Northern California and he continued to immerse himself in studying the art of Mediterranean cuisine while cooking through his travels in France, Italy, and Spain.
AlaMar Kitchen & Bar (est. 2014), a Michelin-recommended seafood destination in Oakland, is German’s first venture as an Oakland restaurateur. Rave media reviews of his Braised Oxtail, Garlic Udon Noodles, Dungeness and Snow Crabs, Shrimp Tacos “Quesa Style,” and Salmon Tiradito garnered German an appearance on Top Chef (Season 18). German is among the celebrity chefs at the upcoming prestigious Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival (September 2022). He’s a featured panelist at Culinary Institute of America’s “Worlds of Flavor” International Conference and Festival (Napa, Calif., November 2021), and German participated in the James Beard Foundation’s “Summer Taste America” culinary series.
An ode to his Dominican roots, German opened the chic Afro-Latin cocktail bar, Sobre Mesa, in March 2020. The term Sobre Mesa (meaning “on the table”) refers to what you do after your meal, when drinks continue and meaningful dialogue begins. Two weeks after its grand opening, Sobre Mesa temporarily closed due to the San Francisco Bay Area’s shelter-in-place orders in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the closure, German was named one of Plate magazine's “2020 Chefs to Watch” and chosen as a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef in Portland.
Sobre Mesa officially reopened in March 2021 and immediately received a glowing review from the San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant critic Soleil Ho (LINK), who raved “Oakland's Sobre Mesa is a dining paradise fit for a new 'Top Chef’ player...one of the funnest places to eat in Oakland...the neighborhood hot spot....”
Food & Wine Magazine's "2021 Best New Chef" Matt Horn of Horn BBQ says, “For a fancy night out, I start at chef Nelson German's seafood spot, alaMar Kitchen & Bar. I order the garlic udon noodles, served with a fried egg on top, and head-on Cajun shrimp…Sobre Mesa has one of my favorite cocktails in the city, the Flor y Canto.”
- Pouring for the Culture
- Monday, May 23 • 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM