Strolling down Oakland’s San Pablo avenue near the California Hotel, you’ll come across a storefront that has emblazoned on its plywood-covered windows the images of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Oscar Grant, among others. Their likenesses are depicted in bright, vibrant colors, painted by an inspired artist whose artwork commands that their legacies live on.
To Executive Chef Leilani Baugh, owner of Roux and Vine and the Magnolia Street Wine Lounge and Kitchen, the artwork identifies her place of business where she immerses herself, creating culinary delights for her dedicated customers every weekend…at a brisk pace. Leilani named the restaurant after the street where she grew up in West Oakland.
“This is my third year in the restaurant business,” said Leilani, but I’ve been cooking since I was a little girl. “My cooking career began at an early age with the help of my two grandmothers; a Chinese immigrant and a Southern housekeeper…both of whom were amazing cooks. I learned from both sides.”
“My Chinese grandmother made home-style choices of food, while my Black grandmother cooked and baked for her church where she was in charge of all the meals during church events. It’s been ingrained in my earliest memories, standing at the sink with either grandmother washing greens or washing banana leaves in the bathtub. Although they prepared meals differently, I learned to take both of those worlds and swish them together.”
“And that became my style of cooking today, where I’ve fused those cooking lessons and created what I call ‘Casian,’ to make really, really good soulful food. As an example, one of my customers’ favorite dishes would be garlic noodles and ginger crab with Cajon prawns on top or braised oxtails over rice or grits…a culinary representation of both my grandmothers.”
“In most restaurants you have to cook what sells and you can’t get too creative, especially during this pandemic. But I love to try and get people to eat new things. I like to create dishes that blend cultures.”
“I try to prepare meals that satisfy my client’s palate, and I build my menus on their satisfaction,” noted Leilani. “Popular dishes like oxtail hash and peach cobbler waffles with honey-drizzled chicken, or turkey and honey garlic wings with exquisite dressings, keeps my customer coming back for more. I like to offer items that are both tantalizing and exciting to eat.”
In addition to the restaurant, Leilani also operates her blossoming catering service Roux & Vine for small and large groups. “We have been catering since 2013,” said Baugh. “It’s personal, in that we will work with you to create a menu that fits your taste, budget and style.”
Roux & Vine offers exquisite food, expert coordination and gracious service with the commitment to use locally sourced produce and the freshest ingredients in their dishes. Roux and Vine is now one of the most sought after catering companies in the Bay Area with a client list that now includes Palo Alto Medical, Alta Bates Hospital, Cal Berkeley, Clover and Impossible Foods.
Chef Leilani noted that the success of her businesses is solely based on the support and honesty of her customers. “I love my customers because they’re really honest,” said Leilani. “I love how they are very supportive and love how they are critical without being hurtful.”
“My customers’ ages range from millennials to 80-year-olds and they’ve all been so supportive. They want to see me succeed and see the restaurant succeed. It’s just amazing the outpour of love and support I’ve received and it’s the only way we would have been able to stay open during all of last year.”
The San Pablo restaurant is currently open on weekends for outside pickup and delivery. After state restrictions are lifted for indoor dining, customers will once again be able to enjoy the ambience of the restaurant and listen to live music. “We’re working in partnership with the Oakland Conservatory of Music for future entertainment,” said Leilani. And we also are working on a lineup of various musicians to perform when we open our doors again.”
“I want everybody to know that small businesses and restaurants, especially Oakland-based, really appreciate your support. We still need you to go out and shop local and eat local. We appreciate every order and every single person who walks ups to our door and places their order.”
In addition to being a restaurateur and caterer, fans of Leilani can soon add author to her title when she releases her soon-to-be published book, “From My Grandmas’ Kitchen”.
For more information on the restaurant and catering service, visit their website at www.chefleilani.com. Follow on Instagram (@thechefleilani) and Facebook (@magnoliastreetwinelounge) to view the menus for the week and call or text 510.205.8540 to place orders. Doordash and Grubhub deliveries are available.