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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chef Alex Jackson Talks About Keeping Parada 22's Puerto Rican Soul Real

Posted By on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:47 AM

click to enlarge Alex_Jackson.jpg
Last week, I called up Alex Jackson for two reasons: The first was to see if I could get more details from the chef of The Corner about his upcoming gastropub, Black Sheep. The second was to learn more about his new Puerto Rican restaurant, Parada 22, which I review this week. The quiet empire-builder is so pleased with the success of the Upper Haight restaurant that he's already planning a second branch in the Mission, as he says, "before the year is over."

"Parada 22," Jackson says, "refers to one of the main streets in Puerto Rico. My


Philip Bellber, one of the founding partners of Cha Cha Cha, grew up in

New York like me. Philip spends a lot of time in Puerto Rico, and he

adores the food. We had that space, and we thought, what in the hell are

we going to do with it? Let's do Puerto Rican homestye food. That was

last July.

"One of Philip's friends' sons is a fireman, and he and a friend built out the space. We were going to quietly open, with no publicity, but this town is so small and so intense about food that somebody walked by and noticed that the chef of The Corner was here. Next thing I know, the guy from Grub Street was calling me. We had a line out the door on opening day. The thing I appreciate is that people are accepting it for what it is: two kinds of beans, rice, four kinds of meat.

"Philip's cousin, Gloria, flew in and helped us track down the ingredients. We came up with the bean recipe, and I cooked beans every day for three weeks until I got it right. What Gloria did was that she let me know if it was legitimate. She was an angel."

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Jonathan Kauffman


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