We had the good fortune of connecting with Oz Blackaller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Oz, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When we first opened De Nada Kitchen & Market I feel we were open as many hours and days as possible in order to make ends meet. With time we realized being open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner service wasn’t helping neither our business or our personal life balance so we decided to close on Mondays. Immediately after closing on Mondays we felt the improvement in both business and personal lives. I had more time to plan for business success as well as to bring some quality family time into my routine. Eventually we decided to close Sundays and Mondays following the law of least effort. That made a huge change in the work/life balance. With time I’ve been able to incorporate more exercise and self care which in turn benefits my performance for the business, so instead of work taking too much out of my personal life, or my personal life interfering with my entrepreneurial success, they both compliment and make each other stronger and healthier.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What has set De Nada Kitchen & Market apart from others is that we embrace our unique approach to food. As the chef at De Nada Kitchen & Market I’ve always focused 1st on the flavor and 2nd on the looks. This has been a challenge that I acknowledged from the beginning and that I am proud to have grown to find a balance between making a dish look presentable and tasting delicious. We have been 10 years in business thanks to the support from everyone who discovers Cueva and decides to become a regular and to recommend to their friends and family. We’ve been able to build a strong inclusive community with our closest neighbors as well as people from all over the US, specially our neighbor states like Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Getting here has not been easy at all. The only way we’ve kept going besides our hard work, is by taking one day at a time, believing in our business and keeping the hope alive. Some of the lesson’s we’ve put to practice was to learn to delegate, working smarter not harder and truly love and enjoy what we do because if you don’t feel happy on your line of work things usually don’t work out. I want everyone out there that everyone is welcomed at De Nada Kitchen & Market. We are a place where relationships are nurtured by coming together around the table.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am a homebody so I usually follow my friends plans when putting up a more construct itinerary. I am also a family man and owning a restaurant keeps me working on the weekends when others are out partying or socializing. So, my out of town friend usually arrive on Thursdays and right after picking them at the airport I’d probably follow this schedule: Thursday lunch at Panama 66 Walk through Balboa Dinner at Soichi Sushi Card games at home with margaritas prepared by Coach Butts Friday Home breakfast prepared by me, of course. Beach day at Coronado Lunch at the beach Catch the sunset Grilled everything dinner at home Drinks and tales around the fire pit Saturday Bike ride day Brunch at Trust Ride through 30th and beer pit stops Linner at Fernside Ride bikes back to Uptown Sunday Hike at Torrey Pines ending back at the beach by the parking lot I’ve haven’t had a chance to visit chef Davin White at Wrench and Rodent so this would be the perfect opportunity to ride up to Oceanside and have a good sushi feast. Stay in Oceanside and walk around to visit a coupe of the breweries up there. On the way back we would stop at Solana Beach and to visit Carruth Cellars, If it were normal times we’d stay there for a concert at Belly Up. Monday. Chill day. Drive up to Ramona to visit my friends Elaine and Norman at Hatfield Creek Winery and Vineyards. They have an amazing set up with a meditation labyrinth and a few stops in the middle of the vineyard where you can sit at enjoy the view along with their delicious wine. I’d probably ask Elaine if we could cook a family dinner there for them, some of their customers and us of course. Tuesday. Taco Tuesday baby! For this one I would take them to either Lola 55 for lunch because I still have not tried them but I have friends who’ve been there and absolutely loved their food. After that we’d stay around the neighborhood and visit Punch Bowl Social to use their karaoke rooms for a few hours, play some bowling . For dinner I’d take them to Cori Pastifica in North Park, owned and managed by my good friend chef Accursio Lotta. On Wednesday it would be another bike around day for coffee and pastries for breakfast. Coffee made at home with a locally roasted coffee, pastries from Nomad because they offer Donuts, and bagels. Then I’d take my friends back to Coronado ( I love the beach) for a few hours, maybe do another picnic style early lunch then head back to University Heights to hang out at Small Bar. For the last dinner before they depart we would go to Cantina Mayahuel for a simple Mexican dinner along with shots of mezcal, or tequila, or margaritas out on their patio seating.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my wife Joanna. She’s been an awesome life and business partner managing her time between business and home with our two kids. Anytime I’ve felt like throwing the towel she’s been there to help me see things with clarity and hope. She’s been with me through both the ups and downs of our business and she brings the balance that’s needed in any successful partnership. Everyone gets to see the Chef Oz who’s happy, smiling and having a good time, while at work but Jo gets to also see the person who is Oz, a work in progress, the one who works and prepares every day before going on stage.
Other: San Diego’s Chef Oz on Food Network’s CHOPPED on October 13 Osvaldo Blackaller, co-owner and chef of De Nada Kitchen & Market in San Diego’s University Heights, will be a contestant on Food Network’s CHOPPED airing on Tuesday, October 13. The self-taught Chef Oz is originally from Monclova, Mexico and became a San Diegan ten years ago, as he and his wife, Jo, opened De Nada Kitchen & Market, a small neighborhood bar and restaurant in University Heights featuring tapas, beer and wine. Chef Oz has previously appeared twice on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. He was on Season 5, Episode 2 “Tos-ta-da” which originally aired on September 28, 2014 and Season 14, Episode 4 “Tournament of Terror: Heat Four” which originally aired on October 22, 2016. There is a virtual watch party to cheer on Chef Oz on CHOPPED on Tuesday, October 13 from 6- 7 pm (PST) via Internet TV services or you can watch on TV from 9-10 pm (PST) on the Food Network. Soon you will be able to order dinner packages from De Nada Kitchen & Market to watch along. ABOUT De Nada Kitchen & Market, a restaurant featuring tapas, beer and wine was established in October 2010 in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. It has been listed among the top 10 San Diego Restaurants and named Best Empanadas by San Diego Magazine. It is owned and operated by Osvaldo and Jo Blackaller and located at 2123 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116. Website: https://cuevabar.com Instagram: ChefOzBlackaller Facebook: CuevaBarCafe Phone: 619-269-6612 ABOUT CHOPPED Food Network’s CHOPPED features four chefs as they compete against each other for a chance to win $10,000. In the three-round contest, chefs are given a basked with four unusual ingredients to incorporate into dishes to be evaluated by a panel of three judges. It is hosted by Ted Allen. ABOUT THE CHOPPED EPISODE Season 46, Episode 11 Pancake Panic The competing chefs get a ton of sugar in the first basket in the form of a breakfast classic with a twist, and the level of cooking in the entree round seems extraordinary as the chefs excitedly dig into a seven-layer dip. In the dessert round, the remaining chefs are happy to see loquats in the basket, but ice cream machine drama threatens their plans.
All image credits: Oz Blackaller