Our Story
Informed by the roots of its chefs, Calabash is a collaborative effort led by Nigel Jones and Hanif Sadr.
Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica amidst lush fruit trees and abundant community. It was there his grandmother taught him the foundations of traditional Jamaican cooking which seamlessly blends West African, Indigenous Caribbean and South Asian flavors and techniques. With a successful career in fashion, Nigel had the opportunity to travel the world. Wherever he went, he connected with people whose lives mirrored his own humble Jamaican upbringing and ways of being together. He transitioned his career to become a full-time chef and restaurateur in 2013, opening Kingston 11 in Uptown Oakland. Pairing his Jamaican roots with innovative California and global flavors, Kingston 11 quickly became a town favorite, hosting community events and garnering recommendations by Zagat and Michelin Guide. From 2018 to 2019, Nigel co-owned and operated his second restaurant, Kaya, in San Francisco in partnership with Chef Daniel Patterson. In a short time, Nigel turned Kaya into a gathering place for Black folks and people of color who felt isolated and not reflected in San Francisco culture and cuisine. Nigel is excited to expand his appreciation of global flavors and commitment to community uplift with his latest endeavor, Calabash. Opened in Uptown Oakland in December 2022, Calabash is a restaurant, market and bar reflecting Nigel’s desire to innovate and collaborate with amazing local chefs and producers.
Hanif Sadr
Hanif pulls inspiration from his Northern Iranian roots, his upbringing in the mountains has informed his palette. Hanif’s cuisine celebrates dishes you would not typically expect when thinking of "Persian food." You can expect smoked fish, vegetarian and vegan Dips, and fermented items from his menu additions. Together they have created a modern spin on a unique bazaar experience producing a menu that culminates their lived experiences.
Calabash is a fruit; once dried and hollowed out, it stores food. But, it also serves other purposes; it is used as an inkpot, cosmetic container, and a market woman’s money box. Its multi-disciplinary properties are why Calabash was chosen as the restaurant's name. A place that embodies this concept with its restaurant, marketplace, and bar offering.