Chef moves

Illustration by Mark Stivers

From the mother ship: Mother and Empress Tavern are easily two of the most celebrated restaurants in Sacramento. When executive chef and owner Michael Thiemann returned to Sacramento, he brought Matt Masera with him. That’s why it was such a shock to many when Masera recently left his post as executive chef and executive pastry chef.

Masera has since joined Saddle Rock, the upcoming restaurant from Chris Jarosz of Broderick Roadhouse and Localis, as executive chef.

Saddle Rock (1801 L Street) was originally billed as a new American restaurant celebrating Sacramento’s history, with innovative fare from Kevin O’Connor, the young chef behind the Tree House pop-ups and formerly of Blackbird. Obviously, that didn’t pan out. Mere days ago, O’Connor took a job with an olive oil company in Australia.

Masera told SN&R that he hopes the Saddle Rock will open in June. The big renovations are done—the staircase and bar have been replaced, for example—and now the team is down to the little things, such as choosing tableware.

As for Masera’s planned Maiden Ice Cream, part of the anticipated Mother empire? He still hopes to continue with it in the future, and create full-on desserts based on ice cream that can be sold in restaurants that don’t make desserts in-house. Previously, you could find Maiden Ice Cream at the Mill in its affogatos, but the Mill recently switched to San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe.

Lunch is up: Downtown’s newest wine bar Whired Wine (410 L Street) now offers weekday lunch in addition to its evening small plates. The menu features sandwiches, salads, flatbread, charcuterie and cheese plates. Whired went through the trouble of designating which dishes are vegetarian or gluten-free, but oddly, only a bean and lentil salad ($7) contains no gluten.

Some examples: the Funky Mushroom ($9), a sandwich of marinated mushrooms, blue and truffle cheeses and garlic aioli; and the Spaniard ($9), a naan flatbread topped with calabrian aioli, goat gouda, spicy capicola and bell peppers.

Food trucks, it’s what’s for dinner: Competition for SactoMoFo is on its way. Off the Grid, the absurdly popular food truck festival based in San Francisco, will start throwing events in Sacramento in June. No word on location yet, but organizers are slowly leaking information on its Facebook page. So far, we know it’ll use lots of local businesses, such as Slightly Skewed, Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen and Gyro Stop. Follow along at