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San Francisco chef to open Menlo Park restaurant

Uploaded: Aug 9, 2017
Greg Kuzia-Carmel, who has cooked in the kitchens of notable restaurants from Per Se in New York to Cotogna, Quince and Outerlands in San Francisco, is opening a restaurant in Menlo Park, he confirmed Tuesday.

Kuzia-Carmel is behind Camper Restaurant. He declined to state where he plans to open or to provide further details about the restaurant concept.

"We are still working on negotiations but I can say when those sort we will move very swiftly to bring our vision online," he wrote in an email.

After earning a degree from The Culinary Institute of America in 2006, Kuzia-Carmel worked at restaurants in Boston, Massachusetts, then took an apprenticeship at Mugaritz, a Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain, according to his LinkedIn profile. He returned to the United States in 2010 and started working at Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York City. Several years later he made the move out west to San Francisco, where he worked with well-known chef Michael Tusk at Cotogna and Quince.

The name Camper appears to be a reference to RVs, which are featured amply on Kuzia-Carmels' Instagram.

Other photos he has posted that tag the restaurant or include the hashtag "camperrestaurant" hint at the kind of dishes Camper will serve, from a lemony cured Marin Coast halibut with Persian cucumber, kiwi and quinoa to roasted chicken with brown rice and spinach cooked in the schmaltz. The Camper website also features a series of photographs of dishes, from entrees and vegetables to desserts.

Another potential Camper dish posted on chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel's Instagram.

Despite staying mum on the details, Kuzia-Carmel is optimistic about opening a new venture on the Peninsula.

"I promise it will be a worthwhile trip from all points of the Valley when we get it all finalized," he said.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by confusedus, a resident of Southgate,
on Aug 9, 2017 at 3:50 pm

or as confucios say,''one man's pakora is another man's tempura''...

Posted by R. Winslow, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 10, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Why couldn't there have been picture of something that looks a bit more appetizing? Just saying.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 11, 2017 at 8:18 am

@R. Winslow:

The restaurant is featuring what they plan to serve. If you don't like it, that's fine. No one can please everyone all the time.

Go find something else that appeals to you, whatever that is: maybe a stack of pancakes, a bucket of fried chicken, or something in a Taco Bell TV commercial. No one is pointing a gun at your head saying you must eat here.

Also It's not particularly neighborly or friendly to bash some small business owner's efforts, especially before they've opened their doors for their first customer.

And by the way, this guy has experience working in some very reputable and lauded fine dining establishments locally in the SF Bay Area, elsewhere in the United States and abroad. It's not like he's a rookie.

Posted by R. Winslow, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm

>Go find something else that appeals to you, whatever that is: maybe a stack of pancakes, a bucket of fried chicken, or something in a Taco Bell TV commercial. No one is pointing a gun at your head saying you must eat here.

You've really lowered the bar with your dining suggestions. Is that a reflection of your own personal 'go to' culinary alternatives? *L*

I'm just grateful (as well as reassured) to know that Sundance is still around for a real dinner.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm

@R. Winslow:

You can't just sit on your chair and hope that every single new restaurant that opens up will be exactly what you wanted. That's insanely selfish.

Okay, so you like more classic dining options. That's fine. I enjoy those types of experiences periodically, especially when I'm on holiday. Sundance is a good joint.

But guess what? We're getting old and our relevance to the dining industry is fading.

If you're a baby boomer or even a Generation X-er, you're not the target audience of new restaurants. They are focusing on Millennials. Worse, if you're a Gen X-er, there aren't many of them around. There were few babies born during this generation so even if we have more discretionary spending power per capita, there is less overall opportunity.

Heck, Applebee's just announced that they are closing about 150 stores that aren't performing as well, and trying to get away from their Middle America focus since that's not the interest of Millennial diners.

Millennials aren't knocking down the doors at places like Sundance. It's old man food (yes, I'm an old man).

Like I said, no one can please everyone all the time. This restaurateur is clearly aiming at a different target audience that you are not part of.

That's life.

Heck, I don't whine when some young artist releases a new hip-hop album. It's not my taste of music, I'll stick with my Bach and Beethoven, but I'm not going to slam the young musician for providing something that people of his/her age group enjoys.

Anyhow, enjoy your ribeye.

Posted by R. Winslow, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 11, 2017 at 6:43 pm


Your demographic explanation made sense as I didn't realize that the Millennials were such bon vivant gourmets. Might be attributable to a certain upbringing by yuppie/upscale parents (i.e. self-indulgent baby boomers).

Someday aspiring chefs are gonna run out of 'fusion' themes (unless various primitive and/or questionable 3rd World culinary practices are brought into the fold). Yummy.

Posted by Sunny, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 11, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I agree with Winslow. The featured dish contains: hamachi agua chile with lime, tomato vinegar, green strawberries, perilla (plant belonging to mint family), pistachio, radish blooms, and raw red onions. Not for those with a week stomach or acid reflux. Not sure why anyone would want to eat green strawberries with other sour, bitter, and acidic ingredients. Something is needed to counter balance the acidity.

This is Menlo Park where good restaurants are almost non existent. People in this town seem to be fine with mediocre, and restaurants that serve food on par with Stouffer's frozen meals seem to be doing fine. Greg Kuzia-Carmel will have better luck in Palo Alto. Good luck to him, but with food like the featured salad, I don't predict success in this town.

Posted by Larry Mondelo, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 11:35 am

Good luck to them. Menlo Park does not have a good history of being able to support these kinds of restaurants.

Posted by R. Winslow, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Menlo Park has Cook's, the original Round Table and the Oasis. Unfortunately Su Hong is gone.

Given the choice, my kids would much rather venture from PA to the above dining establishments in MP rather than eating a hideous-looking, overpriced plate of sour fruit/veggies and fish. Just saying.

They too are Millennial diners but one's with an inkling of common sense and 'down to earth' taste buds.

The reason there are so many new restaurants in Palo Alto is because so many of the new ones close down. *LOL* Perhaps some of these visionary restauranteurs could take a lesson from the venerable Jing Jing on Emerson Street.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Question to R. Winslow, Sunny & Larry Mondelo:

Who is currently the largest employer in Menlo Park? (Hint: it is a NASDAQ-100 and S&P 100 component).

Does this employer have anything to do with Millennials?

Side note: I do not find the illustrated dish particularly appealing personally, but no doubt it will probably be appealing to the target audience which is not the three of you nor myself.

This is how irrelevant we are to restaurateurs starting new businesses like this one. We are old farts. They don't care that we continue going to Cook's, Sundance, Iron Gate, whatever. They aren't competing for our restaurant dollars. They are competing for other market segment dollars.

Old farts like us are largely irrelevant to this type of restaurateur.

Posted by Sunny, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Reader, how do you generate so many (27) likes in less than 30 minutes? I really don't think that many people are reading this blog.

What makes you think that millennials would be attracted to the food featured in this article? Is that why In-N-Out Burger is so popular and packed with millennials whenever I go there at lunch time? Given the choice between a salad of green strawberries, red onions and radishes, or a hamburger and fries, which do you think they'd choose?

Posted by Sunny, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 5:11 pm

@Reader: I forgot to add that if you're referring to Facebook employees, they have a cafeteria on site with free food, including hamburgers, so I don't think they'll venture to downtown Menlo Park for weird fusion food. If they're looking for an interesting meal on the weekend, they'll probably head for San Francisco or another town where there are many options.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 7:03 pm


There are tons of Google employees in the downtown MV restaurants, especially during happy hour/weekday evenings, despite the fact that they have their own cafeterias with free food.

Maybe some Googlers just like to get away from the mothership from time to time.

And there's something that downtown MV restaurants offer that isn't available at various Google employee-only eateries: B-O-O-Z-E.

And not every Google/Facebook Millennial who lives on the Peninsula will want to drive to SF on weekends for an "interesting" meal. Restaurateurs recognize that which is why they are opening places on the Peninsula.

I'm not a Millennial myself. I'm an old fart. All I know is that today's new restaurants are not opening for my sake. I'm okay with that, I'm not in denial that I'm no longer part of a desired target audience. That doesn't mean that I can't enjoy one of these places, but I'm guessing that they aren't going to be building many Sundance Steakhouses and Cook's Seafood restaurants in the future.

Stickney's at Town & Country closed, as did its successor Scott's Seafood. Even the Scott's Seafood folks admitted that they were no longer relevant with the shift in taste of today's younger generation consumer tastes. It doesn't mean these restaurants were bad, it means that the old farts who like those restaurants aren't dining out with enough frequency to keep those seats full.

Gripe all you want. You're just sticking your head in the sand which doesn't change anything.

Posted by Sunny, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Reader: What makes you think I have my head in the sand? Because I am right? You're just hurling insults because you know you are wrong. Why don't you just spend your time liking your own posts to try and prove how clever you are?

Posted by Wine and Dine, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Aug 12, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Well someone is going to eat at these new restaurants and it's probably going to be mostly Millennials.

In any case it's not open yet. I'm curious to see how this restaurant's concept evolves. We've only seen a few social media teasers so far.

Menlo Park sure could use a little invigoration in their downtown restaurant scene.

Posted by Maximum likes, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 13, 2017 at 9:10 am

I too wonder how Reader's post got upvoted "to the Max". Makes me think that something fishy is going on in-haus. Reader's tone is so familiar too. Wonder if I've seen it somewhere before....

Posted by Another reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 13, 2017 at 10:35 am

Reader, a resident of another community, usually gets unlikely "Like" counts. It's sort of a personal signature, pointed out before Web Link

I think it's the same very opinionated person who commented here as NoTrueFoodie, a resident of Blossom Valley: Web Link

Posted by R. Winslow, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm

The continual 'old farts' reference inclines me to believe that 'Reader/a resident of another community' is actually a younger person taking an affront to some of these comments.

That said. Enjoy your Hamachi Agua Chile with Lime. Perhaps it's a Millennial epicurean predisposition.

Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Aug 16, 2017 at 2:47 pm

I've had a hilariously fun time reading the comments...the back and forths. I'm in the R. Winslow camp. I've lived here since 1961 and I could give a very long list of what I considered great restaurants back then. And in my mind, and tastes, they would still be great, if they could survive...but many can't. Every generation has to come up with new ideas to differentiate it from the last generation and past generations. Their new ideas/likes and identities, are revealed and promoted in kind of a rebellious way, against what us old timers...old farts... remember and reflect on. Let it happen...all the hype and hoopla about fusion food. Don't try to stop it. Trust me, it too will play out in time, and when the next generation arrives on the scene they might start liking the food that R. Winslow and I remember as being great. What turns around comes around.

I took a lady friend to Iron Gate recently. Oh, how wonderful that experience was, and it brought back 'old time' memories. Our waitress placed cloth napkins on our laps, and served us well all the way thru the meal. I saw other waiters tossing Caesar salads at table-sides, and light up brandy for the flaming main courses like 'Steak Dianne'. Candlelight, soft music, mirrored walls, and chandeliers just added to the ambience and the memory. My lady friend, Donna, and I, guessed at the average age of the customers that night. We came up with the early 60's. Not an Xer or millennial in sight. I sure hope they don't go out of business when we pass. lol!

But it's not just about food. It includes clothing styles, music, dance, and political views on many issues. Every generation has it's crack at solving all our local, state, and national (domestic and international) problems. Good luck to you Xers and Millennials. The ball's in your court now and you're carrying the torch of leadership in our great nation. Please study and learn from the past, and mistakes made from them. But, if you are still upholders of our Constitution, for Pete's sake take the time to read it...all of it...including the amendments. If you don't like that 1st Amendment, as written, then put all the effort you can muster into changing it with a new amendment to your liking. Amendments were provided for in our original great Constitution, and that's what made it so great. I think we're going on Amendment #28 to be ratified by the states.

Posted by Larry Mondelo, a resident of another community,
on Aug 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I hate to tell you people this but 99% of the so-called millenials who work at Facebook never set foot in Menlo Park. They can't afford to live in MP and they get free food at work.

Posted by Greg Kuzia-Carmel, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Aug 17, 2017 at 5:58 am

Hi All,

My name is Greg and I look forward to cooking for all of you, truly.

Don't normally chime in on these things and didn't really give much info when they asked (they pulled that photo at random). I want to reassure you all we are pulling together something very comfortable and approachable.

The food is going to be fresh from local farms, reflect the seasons and how we track changes of how people eat throughout the year, and most importantly: made and served with love and genuine hospitality. We will have classic staples, a great brunch, hopefully delivery, a stocked bar and beverage program, and more. Most importantly, this restaurant will be about tuning to you: this will not be overly cheffy/fussy stuff.

I hope we can become great friends and neighbors. It's always been my dream to just be a reliable, welcomed addition to a community while hopefully fullfilling a purpose for the many. cheers ~ GKC

Posted by Sunny, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 17, 2017 at 11:06 am

Hi Greg, Don't mind me... I'm not usually so crotchety but Reader was being a little bit of a bully so I was mostly responding to him/her.

I wish you luck, and if your food is good, fresh and reasonably priced (not everyone around here is rich), I'm sure you'll be a success.

Best of luck to you :)

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