June 2, 2010
Chefs, and what else they can bring to the city's table

Following up on Rick Kushman's piece in The Bee today (and before that, Ann Martin Rolke's fine account at the excellent Sacramento-based blog "Sacatomato") on Chef Michael Tuohy's weekly guided tour of farmer's market across the street from his restaurant Grange.

It seems like an excellent idea in many ways. It's good PR for the restaurant. It's a good way for the chef to pass along ideas he believes in about cooking with local ingredients. And it's good for the city -- this kind of thing, on a larger scale, could be something of tourist attraction. Oh, and the farmers are happy, too, with the reminder that home cooks can actually save money by going the fresh and local route.

So, what else can chefs do to make it a win-win-win? Reading the recent issue of the magazine Food Arts, I noticed a brief item on a successful program in Houston that could work just as well here. It's called "Where the Chefs Eat," and it involves getting chefs to describe where they like to eat when they're not toiling in their own kitchens. What's more, the chefs then take groups of 16 or so on a tour of the restaurant, often a hole-in-the-wall joint or hidden-away ethnic eatery.

My round-up review last month on hamburgers revealed that more than a few chefs like to grab a good burger, usually late at night, when they don't feel like cooking? But where do they go for a little adventure or a little comfort? That's the idea behind the Houston program.

Since the farmers market tours show we have an eager audience for food and education, this seems like a great idea we can borrow for Sacramento. It would be good exposure for the chefs, their restaurants and this city.

By the way, I'm going to take the dining advice of the chefs over the nice fellow who sold me the magazine. What did he have for dinner? He had just returned from a break, where he dined at the nearby Old Spaghetti Factory. His meal? A plate of broccoli and a liter of beer.

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