La Marea's Chef Gonzalo Rivera Talks Vintage; Utensils Not Wine

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We've heard of vintage clothing, jewelry and books. The word vintage is copied from wine terminology to give a more elegant euphemism for "old" and these days it seems anything that is second hand can be sold in a "vintage store." Enter to this arena vintage kitchen utensils. Collectors are few and far between but those who do collect are passionate about their spoons, knives, and percolators. Go online and you'll find




, and


full of them.

Gonzalo Rivera, Executive Chef at

La Marea

at the Tides, started collecting over 10 years ago when he found himself living in an old home in San Francisco with a basement full of the previous owner's "junk.; The home, a red wood cabin more suited for Lake Tahoe than the hilly streets of San Fran, was full of old spoons, knives, a wok and, his favorite piece, a tabletop convection oven. Since then, Chef Gonzalo has accumulated over 50 items found at garage sales, thrift stores and family heirlooms from his native Mexico. An old ice carving kit he bought in Chinatown, his grandmother's


, a mortar made of ground stone that is traditional in Mesoamerican culture, and her mill used to make tamale filling. "They are all meaningful and have some history to me." He also confirms that when younger he did use several of the items but these days they are mainly put in storage. So no display? "Maybe one day" Rivera tells us with a smile.

So what does make something "vintage"? Is our mom's old yellow mixer vintage? How about the wooden spoon that's cracked and stained that your grandmother used to make Sunday supper? The wooden spoon is probably worthy of the trash (bacteria thrives in wood), but the mixer could be a keeper. Remember, it's only as valuable as the price someone else will pay for it.

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