Home: It's Where We Cook





We traversed Oakland, interviewing regular people from all different cultures, learning about their lives, cooking with them, photographing them, and recording their favorite recipes.

We have conveyed in book form what it can be like to sit down to dinner with 20 different Oakland home cooks from twenty different cultures—it’s a portrait of what we think is beautiful about Oakland.

These stories are shared through written biographies, recipes, and photographs, to truly capture the essence of each "flavor" of Oakland. The project aims to use food as a means to bring people together over a meal, and break down barriers between the many cultures represented in Oakland.


Flavors of Oakland uses food as a means to bring people together over a meal and break down the barriers that promote separation and miscommunication in our city. Through the process of interviewing and cooking with Oakland residents we have heard many stories of upheaval and strife. The one thing that consistently connects people to their culture is food! We have set out to celebrate the cultural pride that exists in this one-of-a-kind city. 

To spread this pride, we have donated copies of the book to all of the public schools and libraries in Oakland. 

In an attempt to make a tangible difference, in addition to community building, we have supported local businesses throughout the development of this book, scouting Oakland printers, designers, and vendors. 

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If you want to own your own copy of the book, please go ahead and buy it

If you already own a copy, get a matching t-shirt!

Most importantly, if you know of a youth organization that could benefit from owning a copy of the book or selling a copy in a fundraiser please click here to email Anya to organize a donation.


Flavors of Oakland

Flavors of Oakland will take you on a culinary tour through one of America's most vibrant cities. In each of the 20 chapters you will meet an Oakland resident who shares their story and a treasured recipe from their culture. Magnificent photos of the people and recipes bring the Flavors of Oakland to your own kitchen wherever you may be. 

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"Flavors of Oakland" T-Shirt

We all come from somewhere. We all want to rep the flavors of our culture. Show your Oakland and Flavors pride in this Flavors of Oakland t-shirt!

These t-shirts are printed locally by Forward Printing, and locally designed by Kerry Tremain (text logo) and Anya Ku (tree logo)!

Support your city, support Flavors, and look fabulous! 

We have a limited quantity so get one while they last.

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Cole Hardware 5333 College Ave.

Maison D'Etre 5640 College Ave.

Mandela Foods Cooperative 1430 7th St. 

Oakland Museum of California 1000 Oak St.

Oaklandish 1444 Broadway Ave./ 3419 Fruitvale Ave.

Oakland Supply Co. 291 3rd St.

Sophie's Cuppa Tea 2078 Antioch Ct. 

Visit Oakland 481 Water St.


A Great Good Place for Books 6120 LaSalle Ave. 

The Book Tree 6121 LaSalle Ave.

Diesel, A Bookstore 5433 College Ave.

Laurel Bookstore 1423 Broadway

Owl & Company Bookshop 3941 Piedmont Ave.

Pegasus Books 5560 College Ave.

Spectator Bookstore 4163 Piedmont Ave.




Costco 1900 Davis St, San Leandro, CA 94577


The Builder's Booksource 1817 4th St.

Pegasus Books 2349 Shattuck Ave. / 1855 Solano Ave.


Alice Waters- Chez Panisse, Edible School Yard

"We have much to learn from young people like Anya and Elazar! Their instincts to celebrate beautiful meals cooked at home and eaten together with family and friends fills me with hope."

Chef James Syhabout- Commis, Hawker Fare, The Dock

"Flavors of Oakland paints an absolute and accurate picture of the city's culinary landscape with social sensibilities, which makes it unique and fun. It encompasses the personality, history and stories of the individuals that make Oakland. Sontag and Ku bring this melting pot to your table layered with flavors from all over in this delicious stew."

Hannah Hoffman- Doughnut Dolly

"Sharing food is an intimate experience. There is no better way to express culture, tradition, and community than by eating a meal at another’s table. Sontag and Ku take us on a tour of Oakland in the most personal and relevant manner: through neighborhood recipes. This book brings the diversity and wonder of Oakland closer than ever. I cannot wait to share these recipes at my table."

Odette Nemes- Girls Resource Center Program Manager for Girls Inc. of Alameda County

"This book is truly something special. It makes me proud to be in Oakland. It also makes me hungry – hungry for more young people with tenacity, passion and drive to reach for their dreams by embracing the beauty around them."

Trini Campbell- Riverdog Farm

"The enticing recipes, vivid narrative, and colorful imagery in Flavors of Oakland will inspire the creative cooking juices of beginner and experienced chefs. While leafing through the book, you simultaneously feel you're traveling the globe and getting to know, at home, some of the ingredient secrets of 20 Oaklanders with distinct cultural backgrounds. The book captures an essence of Oakland's vast gastronomic offerings and then releases it, like the aroma of the toasted spices that author's Sontag and Ku describe, by making the recipes accessible, mouth-watering, and delectable. The recipes and stories connect me to urban dwellers. I will refer to Flavors of Oakland often when making meals with the produce and pastured meat from my farm."

Samantha Smith- Edible World Institute

"Food fills our lives from seed to soul. We grow we eat, we live together. The delicious tales of this book provide a glimpse into the life force of Oakland. This written and visual narrative shares memories of the past, the joy of present, and a snippet of how the future could taste.
Flavors of Oakland confirms that our young leaders are already on task, making the most or their opportunities. Elazar and Anya have invited us to take a seat at the table. These young storytellers are archiving our experiences, embracing their purposes, and modeling a role worthy of our imitation, admiration and support."



"For a culinary and cultural tour of Oakland, check out Flavors of Oakland, which features the lives, food and stories of 20 home cooks. Published in 2016, the project aimed to break down barriers between the Oakland’s many communities and to unite people around shared meals."

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KQED- BAY AREA BITES December 2016

 "Flavors of Oakland offers an impressive guide to the Town’s varied cuisines, from Hawaiian to Jewish."- Shelby Pope

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"'Flavors of Oakland' is a solid, honest-to-goodness cookbook with tested recipes and a spine that thankfully allows for any page to stay open when flopped on the kitchen counter. It weaves together 20 very different life stories of home cooks from every nook and cranny of the city" -Kate Williams , Editor and Journalist  

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J WEEKLY June 2016

“'Flavors of Oakland' is part cookbook and part love letter to the city". -Alix Wall, Journalist, Personal Chef

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"In their book, Sontag and Ku use biographies, recipes and photographs to capture the essence of each “flavor” of Oakland. Their larger project aims to use food as a means to bring people together and break down barriers between the many cultures represented in Oakland." - UCOP


"While Sontag and Ku hope their cookbook will contribute in breaking cultural barriers in younger generations, they already have made a valuable contribution: compiling a book of recipes and stories, that portray Oakland as the diverse, thriving, changing city it is today." -Natalie Keltner-McNeil, reporter for the Berkeley High Jacket

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"Nearly every Oakland neighborhood is represented, and recipes are interwoven with stories that evoke other worlds, other lives, hardship, joy and celebration." -Jackie Burrell, Editor and Journalist

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"[Flavors of Oakland tells the story of] a diverse city of many cultures. [Oakland] is a place where immigrants seek home, where families who have been here for generations mingle with those new to the Town, in all colors and styles" -Oaklandish

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"Indeed, Ku and Sontag have approached the 'Flavors' project with as much curiosity as ambition. Sontag speaks with visible enthusiasm about each dish he learned to prepare. Ku says that working on the cookbook has changed her perspective on food" -Kate Williams , Editor and Journalist  

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"Teenagers Anya Ku and Elazar Sontag are creating [a] narrative-based cookbook that tells the story of 20 different culinary communities in Oakland" -KQED

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EAST BAY EXPRESS September 2015

"The book, Flavors of Oakland, includes stories and recipes from twenty Oakland residents from all different cultural backgrounds" -Luke Tsai, Food Writer


"Because of their unique focus, Anya and Elazar hope to share their book with all of the city. To do so, they aim to give free copies of their book to all schools, libraries, and youth organizations in Oakland. This ambitious goal highlights even more their dedication to this city. “Oakland is my home, Oakland is my family.” Anya says. They have recently started a crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to raise money for the printing costs of their book" -Margarita Ku, reporter for Oakland Tech Scribe

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PAULDING & COMPANY September, 2015

"I'm sure the... book will be wonderful -- after all, I got to taste a lot of the 'tester' recipes!" - Terry Paulding, Founder of the team building kitchen

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"Just out of high school at Oakland Tech, Anya is in the midst of a creating a cookbook about Oakland food as a way to bring people together to break down the barriers that keep us apart. As she puts it, "we connect with people all over the city, collecting recipes and stories, and compiling them into a narrative cookbook that celebrates what is beautiful about Oakland." Not only [are her and Elazar] documenting and narrating the process, but also she is photographing the people and the food. And her photos are remarkably beautiful...and remember, she just graduated high school! Yeah, that's what Oakland youth are doing" - Stephen Texeira, photographer

THE MONTCLARION December, 2014

"If food is love, then Oakland student Anya Ku has a winner with her new cookbook “Flavors of Oakland.” Ku and friend Elazar Sontag are interviewing and photographing folks from a variety of backgrounds and letting each cook a dish from their culture. The end result will be a cross-cultural cookbook that Ku hopes will encourage unity in Oakland. 'We want to encourage people to cross racial boundaries and realize that we have more in common than we have differences,' she says" -Ginny Prior, Journalist


"Elazar and [Anya]  will find local home cooks who have a background in the Bay Area and do an interview with them. The interview will focus on the person’s history in the Bay Area and something they love to cook. The interviewee will get a chance to help write a story of the East Bay Area and have a recipe published. The final products will be compiled into a cookbook and an event will be hosted to show off the book and the people who helped write it" -Terry Paulding, Founder of the team building kitchen.

EAST BAY EXPRESS October, 2014

 "[This is] an ambitious photo/cooking project called 'Flavors of Oakland,' wherein regular folks in Oakland will share recipes from their cultural backgrounds. The project will culminate with the creation of a small cookbook and a meal that will feature all of the shared dishes" -Luke Tsai, Food Writer


Anya Ku, photographer

Anya, 21, has lived in Oakland almost all of her life; she is a proud product of the Oakland public school system and the Peralta Community College system. She has a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and is currently pursuing her J.D. at Berkeley Law.

Anya has been practicing photography professionally for over five years, and has her own photography business, Kutography. Through Kutography, Anya has done volunteer photography work for many local organizations.

Elazar Sontag, writer

Elazar, 20, is a student and food writer. He has trained in several renowned Oakland restaurants, but spends most of his time outside of class writing about food and the amazing people who produce, cook, and serve it. 

Elazar's food writing can be found in The Washington Post, VICE, Serious Eats, and Civil Eats, among other publications. Check out his personal website for more