Sac Chefs shine in Pebble Beach
Sacramento sends its farm-to-fork all-stars on tour
Sacramento chefs are earning respect on a national scale. The world-famous Pebble Beach Food & Wine (#PBFW) festival, where the country’s best chefs and winemakers come together for a hedonistic four-day event on a beautiful stretch of California coastline, is the-place-to-be if you like to hobnob with celebrity chefs. Seriously, you can’t throw a duck confit taco without hitting at least three Top Chef contenders.
At this year's festival, Sacramento chefs were honored with an invitation to host their own event, an exclusive four-course affair titled “Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork All Stars.” The white-tablecloth luncheon attracted 120 guests. In attendance was Jeremiah Tower, who will be leading local chefs for this year's Tower Bridge Dinner, alongside Senior Culinary Director Dorothy Maras, who organizes the culinary side of PBFW.
A native to the area, Maras says she planned this event to highlight Sac chefs for one primary reason: She is impressed with the depth and creativity of our local talent. “I've heard it referred to as an emerging culinary hot spot,” she says, “but I thought it was high time to give notice to our audience at PBFW that Sacramento has not only emerged, but has beaten down the kitchen doors of San Francisco and Napa. Sacramento has completely arrived.”
The Farm-to-Fork All Stars menu showcased the best produce, grains, meats and wines from the Sacramento area, including products by Passmore Ranch, Azolla Farm, Emigh Lamb, Capay Organic, Del Rio Botanical and Rue & Forsman Ranch. Representing wineries included Bogle, Skinner, Turley, and Haarmeyer, with grapes from several local vineyards.
Sacramento chefs lived up to their reputation for creating innovative dishes based on the area's best seasonal produce, bringing their well-known creativity to the table and giving PBFW attendees a taste of what we have available every day of the week. Highlights include Billy Ngo's Passmore Ranch sturgeon rillettes with caviar, yuzu, yaki onigiri, and pea tendrils; Michael Fagnoni's chilled Dungeness crab with sunchokes, edible flowers and lemon verbena gelée; Oliver Ridgway's duck breast with sorghum, beet ketchup, foie gras and smoked olive oil; and Ramon Perez's colorful plate of chocolate truffles, hibiscus-caramel cups, cucumber-lime macarons and pea-mint bonbons.
“Sacramento chefs have great energy and a laser-focus on delivering excellence,” says Maras, who was excited to experience the lunch she helped create. “This isn't a clichéd and over-hyped version of farm-to-fork fare. This is the real deal.”
Sac chefs also featured strongly at PBFW's prestigious tasting tents, having earned spots among the country's most celebrated culinary talent. Several local chefs and purveyors hosted their own tasting tables, including Brad Cecchi, Ginger Elizabeth, Michael Passmore and several chefs from the All Stars luncheon.
Cecchi, who opened his new restaurant Canon in late 2017, was elated to receive his first invite as a guest chef. “I was honored to get the call to represent Sacramento,” he says. “You work hard hoping that people notice, so to have the hard work validated, especially for a new place like Canon, it means a lot. To be invited to an event at that level to execute your craft is special.”