The Cook and Her Farmer is an all-day oyster bar and café housed inside the historic Swan’s Market in Old Oakland. Before co-owners Romney Steele and Steven Day opened their restaurant, they spent a year farming oysters in Tamales Bay as part of a community farming project. “When the farm closed in 2012, the idea emerged of opening a restaurant together. I had a feeling that oysters would blow up into something more, and they did,” said Steven.
After spending a year popping up around town and leasing kitchen space, Romney and Steven opened The Cook and Her Farmer in 2014. Through their partnership, they have grown The Cook and Her Farmer into the successful restaurant it is today and contributed to the thriving of Swan’s Market as part of the Old Oakland Renaissance.
Romney has written two of her own cookbooks. Her first one My Nepenthe is all about her grandparent’s renowned Big Sur restaurant, founded in 1947, and still owned and operated by her family today.
Steven is a public-school teacher and a forensic diver for the Alameda County Sheriff. In addition, he helps run the restaurant by backing Romney up wherever needed. Steven is a huge proponent of sustainable shellfish farming and he specializes in local California and Washington oysters.
Scott Lewis, Main Street Launch’s CFO, encouraged Steven and Romney’s collaboration in building the business from the start. “Scott was critical to our process and our success. He was a huge advocate who believed in us,” remembered Steven. “Not only was he culturally compatible, but he thoroughly explained and walked us through the loan process,” said Steven. Romney said, “Steven championed me early on. Scott also saw that in him and believed in us together, he rallied for us both. I think Scott saw Steven’s passion, commitment, ability to connect with his community, and hustle.”
The Cook and Her Farmer serves coastal inspired cuisine with a touch of southern influence. As part of their mission, they strive to grow up young cooks and farmers. They work with local organic farms to source the restaurant’s produce, dairy, meat, and fish.
Check out The Cook and Her Farmer’s menu and website by clicking here and swing by for their oysters happy hour.