Block Butcher Bar is coming soon!

Sacramento ESC Future Home of The Sacramento Kings Food Program

It's been a while since I've posted anything to this blog. Please accept my apology!

Here's a quick update on my new endeavor with a brief interview by Andrea Thompson, of the Sacramento Business Journal. Published this morning 12/3/2014.

I will try and be better in the new year with more frequent posts of our progress, as time permits of course!

Happy Holidays!

Catching up with chef Michael Tuohy, off to lead arena food program

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Ed Murrieta

Chef Michael Tuohy, seen in this file photo at Block Butcher Bar, moves on to his role as executive chef and general manager of the future downtown arena's food program.

When I caught up with chef Michael Tuohy, he told me he had 668 days until he would be selling food again. Truthfully, he was able to tell me how many hours, minutes and even seconds it would be until the Entertainment Sports Complex, aka the new Sacramento Kingsarena, opens, thanks to its website's countdown clock.

Last week, Tuohy stepped down as chef of LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar, after giving two month's notice. Within weeks, he will officially start in his new role as the executive chef and general manager of the arena's food program, which has been contracted to Legends Hospitality. At Block, charcutier and butcher Brock MacDonald will handle the duties Tuohy leaves behind, while at LowBrau, Marshall Massa will continue to manage the kitchen with additional responsibilities.

Though it may seem early for him to focus on the job, chef Tuohy has a lot of preparation to do before the arena opens in October 2016. Without even being on the clock, he's already been in several meetings and studied blueprints of production kitchens, concession stands, bars, VIP dining areas, suites and cart designs. "I've been involved since early going," he explains.

The food service plan in Tuohy's mind involves using local restaurants, and he's been meeting with possible partners. "I'm keeping my feelers out for the perfect fit. I want dynamic and fun operators there -- good representation from not just popular restaurants but also ethnic communities."

One of the largest tasks at hand is setting up the supply chains. His hope is to source at least 90 percent of all the food from a 150-mile radius of Sacramento. "It takes a lot of time. I'm talking to farmers about entire crops. You can't wait until the last minute for hundreds of thousands of pounds of products. And it has to be delivered at a price point that won't scare everyone away."

The rich diversity of food in the Sacramento Valley is leading the way for Tuohy's vision to set the new arena apart from sports complexes in other cities. "We don't have to buy from one large distributor and open cans and dump it out. No way." Instead, he's enthused to capitalize on homegrown products. One farmer even suggested creating a signature Kings tomato which could be used in a Kings salsa for nachos.

Even though he has almost two years until the food will be served, he laughingly says, "I'm starting to panic that it won't be enough time."

Andrea Thompson has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She has experience working in restaurants, managing a test kitchen and writing about food for Wine Country magazine, Sacramento Magazine and Food.com.

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