We’ll have what he’s having
Paul Somerhausen has eaten his way around the world while living in a multitude of cities. Now that he’s in Sacramento, he satisfies his international palate by running the Sacramento Epicureans, a social group for culinary enthusiasts which meets at a different restaurant each month. He also facilitates two rotating dinner-party groups. Recently, he’s been helping to organize the SactoMoFo food-truck event that will be held at Fremont Park on April 30. You can learn more about this delicious festival, which features 20 mobile food vendors from Sacramento and the Bay Area, at www.sactomofo.com.
You grew up on Ibiza?
I grew up in Spain and Holland. In Spain there’s an established food culture, where people center their lives around potluck-style meals. When I came to the U.S., I realized it’s not like that here. I had a bit of culture shock. At the time I moved to Sacramento, it was a fairly rural small-town city, but I started realizing the city had a lot of potential. We probably have upward of 30 cuisines in the city. I started Epicureans because I wanted to start a progressive dinner group. I had such a big response, I started doing restaurant events to showcase places that people don’t usually go to. I’ll eat anything, from street food to The Kitchen-style food.
That wasn’t enough? You started two dinner groups, too?
I wanted to have people in those groups that had the same passion for a variety of foods. The dinners we make have a global focus. The first group was so successful, and I started meeting more people that I wanted to get to know better, so I started a second group. I’ve been doing those now for four and three years each.
But you don’t actually do food stuff for a living?
I’ve been a political meeting planner of sorts for the last 10 to 15 years, so it’s a natural extension of what I do anyway. I do menu planning and one big dinner for each conference I organize. I’m planning one in New Mexico with a wine tasting and a Western gunfight. My passion comes in handy for that. I’ve also been a 10-year volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I believe that community service in general is really important.
How did you get involved with SactoMoFo?
Joshua, a good friend of mine, runs YumTacos.com. He’s been trying to get an event put together to show why Sacramento should have mobile food vending. Right now it’s nearly impossible to have trucks that are stationed in one spot and they prep to order. We have people interested in doing trucks, but because of city ordinances, they can’t. We’ll have 20 different vendors, one third from the Bay Area, selling street food of every variety that you can imagine—tacos, pupusas, exotic burgers, coffee, ice cream. There’s been a lot of interest from the community, especially restaurants. They see the potential that it gives them to branch out. We’re also cooperating with the California Restaurant Association, which has been actively participating.
Why do the laws need to change?
We’re looking for trucks to be able to operate with reasonable criteria. They’ll get inspected like every other food establishment. We want it to be sensible, where people who are serious about this can have a business. As the ordinances are now, trucks will need to move every 30 minutes! Anyone who heats up food takes 15 to 20 minutes to set up and then has only 5 minutes to sell before they have to move. It’s not conducive to a good business environment.
How do you have time for all of these interests?
It’s a passion, so it’s easy to find time. It doesn’t take me that much effort, because it’s a natural extension of what I do. Being a natural organizer, it’s easy to categorize each part of my life, but it also keeps my life interesting. I’m always hearing about the latest strange or fun restaurant. It adds spice to the city. When you have a web of friends who are that much into food, you find out about the new food places. I don’t discriminate. I like it all!