Reem Assil is a Palestinian-Syrian chef based in Oakland, CA. She is the owner of Reem’s California, a nationally acclaimed restaurant, inspired by her passion for Arab street corner bakeries and the vibrant communities that surround them.
Barely a year after opening Reem’s in 2017, Assil opened an Arab fine dining concept, Dyafa, in partnership with Alta Restaurant Group, earning it a place on the Michelin Guide and Bib Gourmand’s List in its first year.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
Reem has garnered an array of top accolades, including the following:
James Beard finalist in Outstanding Chef in 2022, semifinalist in the Best Chef: West in 2018 & 2019
Thrillist's "2018 Chef of the Year"
San Francisco Magazine’s “2018 Chef of the Year"
San Francisco Chronicle's “2017 Rising Star Chef”
Star Chefs "2019 Rising Star Restauranteur"
Reem’s California was also named:
Food & Wine’s "2018 Top 10 New Restaurants of the Year”
SF Chronicle’s “2019 Top 100”
Mercury News’ “Bay Area’s Best 50 Restaurants”
East Bay Express "2019 Best Middle Eastern Restaurant"
Oakland Townie Awards "2019 Small Business of the Year"
Before dedicating herself to a culinary career, Reem worked as a labor and community organizer at SEIU Local 1877 and East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE).
Reem spent more than a decade training organizers and leaders all over the country with organizations like Center for Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Center for Third World Organizing, School of Unity and Liberation and the DataCenter.
Reem worked with Bay Area’s esteemed cooperative bakery Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria, Grace Street Catering, and several local chefs before launching Reem’s California.
She is a graduate of the competitive food business incubator program, La Cocina, business leadership program Centro Community Partners, and Oakland-based business accelerator program ICA: Fund Good Jobs.
Reem was a 2021 Emerson Collective Fellow in the Recover & Renew Cohort to incubate Sumoud, a replicable worker-ownership apprenticeship program equipping food-service workers with the tools they need to make meaningful, systemic change in the restaurant industry and beyond.
Reem sits at the intersection of her three passions: food, community, and social justice.
Using the tool of food, Reem invokes the central virtue of her Arab culture — hospitality — to build strong, resilient, and connected community.
She combines her lifelong experience of fighting for justice and her nearly two decades of professional experience in nonprofits and the food industry to build towards her vision for a more socially and economically just world.