First, let me say how thrilled we are to be back in Sacramento! Since moving back a little over 3 weeks ago, I have found myself suddenly caught up in a whirlwind of activity and projects (all food related of course) that have encroached on my blog post time.I do apologize.
The decision to move back to Sacramento from the Los Carneros AVA of Napa Valley was not easy. Having said that, it was really not hard either. While we no longer have Robert Sinskey's Pinot Noir vineyards in our front and back yard, we've dived right back into "The Grid!" living about 4 blocks from our beautiful state capitol building. No longer do we get awakend by the sound of tractors cruising the vineyards, instead we hear the ring of the metro trains from the nearby rail station. Sounds of the city are much different than sounds in the country and I happen to appreciate both for what they are. There are so many unique and special things about Sacramento. When I lived here before and was the Executive Chef of Grange Restaurant and Bar and Citizen Hotel, I never really had time to truly appreciate it all.
After moving to Napa in 2011, I had the opportunity to cook not only in the Napa Valley at specialty food retailer Dean & Deluca, but also at many wineries and private residences. There was also exploratory stints in Los Angeles as well as in the southbay at Google. While we entertained the idea of moving to Los Angeles and later Mountain View, neither of those places felt right. You really don't know into you peel back as many layers as you can which thankfully, I had the opportunity to do prior to making a leap of faith. As the end of our lease term at our bucolic setting in the Carneros was looming on the horizon, we had to decide whether or not to stay. My wife Patti and I decided that Sacramento made more sense on many levels for us, more so than Napa. Also, since Patti works at the UC Davis Cancer Center, I told her that I would move for her job.
It has been a treat to re-connect with the local food community in Sacramento. In my opinion it is better than ever! Last year, Mayor Kevin Johnson, proclaimed Sacramento as "The Farm-to-Fork Capitol" of the country and 2013 as Sacramento's "Year of Food." The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, the local restaurant community and local farmers and ranchers have banded together to champion the cause. September 2013 is Farm-to-Fork Month, which will celebrate the local food movement with special events at restaurants and around the city. Exciting efforts like the Californa Food Literacy Center (CFLC) founded by Amber Stott, a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire change for a healthy, sustainable tomorrow through enduring community food education. The vision is to promote a food literate population in California. CFLC helps Californians understand the story of their food. They teach children basic cooking skills, nutrition, food and vegetable appreciation and environmental impacts. The CFLC is about to launch EatSmart Campaign during the month of September, which has been declared as the statewide Food Literacy Month. The goal is to help low-income Sacramento children develop healthy food habits to last a lifetime. I have agreed to serve as the Honorary Chef for this program. We are asking local restaurants to participate by encouraging their patrons durning this month to add $1.00 donation to the bill. The program is the brainchild of Board President & Local Food Maven, Peg Tomlinson-Poswall. 100% of funds raised will be used to hire more teachers for the program. This is another great example of the local food community coming together here!
Also, I've been enjoying the wonderful farmer's markets that make Sacramento special. The Sunday morning X street market as well as the new Midtown Farmer's Market at 20th & J street on Saturday morning. Living on the edge of Downtown & Midtown Sac, there are a half dozen farmer's markets within walking distance that happen on different days of the week.
There is a lot of new efforts and businesses that are great additions on the scene since last living here. The new Feeding Crain Farms and the new Suhn Fish Market. Visiting some of my favorites from before like the Sac Natural Foods Co-op and the specialty food palace, Corti Bros. run by local treasure Darrell Corti. New restaurant Hock Farm & Craft Provisions, brought to you by local restaurant guru Randy Paragary, is a welcome addition to the burgeoning restaurant scene.
Another discovery I have encountered upon my return is the Sacramento Delta Region. It is truly what I would consider a "hidden gem!" Having grown up in San Francisco prior to relocating to Atlanta, Ga. I was pretty unaware of not only the area but, the importance of the area. The Delta region is particularly rich in agriculture. It supplies not only the immediate area but, a good amount of the United States. It has tremendous cultural, historical, environmental and recreational resources. Check out the discoverthedelta.org website. The Discover the Delta Foundation is the brainchild of Delta native and resident Ken Scheidegger, PhD. It is run by he and his wife Laura. I will be posting more on this very soon.