April 19, 2024
Expect the beer to flow at this year's Valley of Heart's Delight dinner at History Park in October.

History Park in San Jose is set to be transformed into a beer garden for one night this fall as Gordon Biersch co-founder Dan Gordon is honored at History San Jose’s annual fundraiser in October.

Now, maybe beer isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of San Jose, but History San Jose CEO Bill Schroh says brewing is a key part of the valley’s story.

“People forget that before we were known as Silicon Valley we were known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight, one of the premier farming regions in the world. Two of the crops that were grown were hops and barley, which we all know go into the brewing of beer,” Schroh said, noting that there once were at least six major breweries in the valley.

Gordon, Schroh said, “not only keeps this tradition alive but also is an important contributor to the gastronomic and brewing arts in San Jose.”

Today, the county’s biggest brewer is Gordon Biersch, which Gordon co-founded with Dean Biersch in 1988 as a Palo Alto brewpub. Gordon, who grew up in Los Altos and went to Homestead High, graduated from a five-year brewing program in Germany where he learned to make beer in the traditional German style. In 1997, Gordon Biersch opened a brewing and bottling operation in the old California Canners and Growers plant on Taylor Street in Japantown — but laws regarding brewpub ownership forced the pair to sell what was then a chain of 12 restaurants in 1999.

All but a handful of the restaurants have since closed, but Gordon Biersch beer has kept flowing — and the brewery has become a major hub in Japantown, hosting weekly night markets during the summer and a weekend farmers market. He also worked with Martinelli’s from Watsonville on a hard apple cider and made two beers in collaboration with Casa de Fruta. Did I mention he’s also played trombone with bands at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest?

Now, if all that wasn’t enough reason to honor Gordon at the Valley of Heart’s Delight event, how about this: He invented garlic fries.

He came up with the recipe in Germany and brought them to Gordon Biersch. But they really took off once they started selling at San Francisco Giants games and the rest is, well, history.

The Valley of Heart’s Delight dinner is Oct. 12, with live music, food stations and plenty of beer. Tickets and sponsorship information are available at www.historysanjose.org.

GOOD MATCH: When Tom Bakewell was asked if he could help find a new executive director for the Lupus Foundation of Northern California, he realized he knew just the person: himself. Bakewell — who got into nonprofits a few years ago after a long tech career — wasn’t just looking for a new challenge. He also had a personal connection to the autoimmune disease — his mother had it before she died and his oldest daughter also has been diagnosed with it.

Even though he had never led a nonprofit — he was most recently CIO at the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance — he said its been a “scary but extraordinarily fulfilling” experience since he joined the organization in February. They support 18 chapters statewide from Sacramento to Monterey.

“Seeing what patients go through and seeing how dedicated the very small staffs are has completely changed my view on why you get up and go to work,” he said.

His current challenge is putting on the 29th annual Outrun Lupus 5K run and walk in Campbell on Sept. 23. Campbell Mayor Anne Bybee will be out there that morning, and barre 3 studio will be helping the runners and walkers warm up. While the goal of the event is to raise money, Bakewell said it’s also important to raise awareness about a disease that most people don’t understand. San Jose resident Jane Siebenmorgen, the foundation’s 2023 honoree, does a great job of personalizing lupus with the story of her diagnosis and what came next for her. You can read it, and get more information on the run by going to lfnc.org and clicking on “Outrun Lupus 5K” under “Get Involved.”

SUCCESS STORY: Nestldown, in the Santa Cruz mountains overlooking Los Gatos, is a popular wedding venue, but it also turned out to be the perfect spot for Cancer CAREpoint’s annual Garden Party fundraiser last Sunday. Nestldown owners Mark and Barbara Beck donated the use of the beautiful property for the nonprofit event, which had a sold-out crowd of 350 people and raised more than $1.1 million to provide non-medical support services for cancer patients and their families.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian provided updates on legislation for breast cancer screenings at a sponsor reception, but it was keynote speaker Ruth Slyngstad who captured the crowd’s hearts with an emotional talk about how valuable time is to someone like her with a terminal breast cancer diagnosis. Slyngstad, who has been a volunteer with Cancer CAREpoint for a decade, received her diagnosis less than a year ago.

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“When you hear something like this that is life changing, all you want to do is hug your family and spend precious time with them. Time became a precious commodity to me,” Slyngstad said. “Cancer CAREpoint gave me more time to spend with my loved ones.”

AT THE MOVIES: If you’re looking to see the hot new indie movie, “Fremont,” you don’t have to travel too far. 3Below Theaters in downtown San Jose opened the movie on Friday and is showing it through Sunday night, with another screening Thursday. And showing “Fremont” is a one-time deal for the theater at 288 S. Second St., which is bringing other independent films like “Jules” and “Golda” to its screens under the umbrella “San Jose Arthouse.” Check it out at www.3belowtheaters.com.

Meanwhile in Palo Alto, the Stanford Theatre wraps up its Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock festival this weekend with a pair of classics, “Psycho” and “The Birds,” and next weekend kicks off a month of movies featuring Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. The lineup includes “Roman Holiday,” “Casablanca,” and 1954’s “Sabrina,” which starred them both along with William Holden. (You can catch Bogey with a different Hepburn — Katherine — in “The African Queen” on Sept. 22-24. If this sounds like the beginning of a beautiful festival, you’ll find showtimes at stanfordtheatre.org.