May 9, 2011
Chef Michael Tuohy leaving Grange to pursue new challenge

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Tuohy.jpgMichael Tuohy, executive chef at Grange, the widely respected restaurant at the Citizen Hotel downtown, is leaving the position to pursue new opportunities.

Tuohy, 49, has been a significant influence on the local food scene, both for his thoughtful approach to cooking and for the public outreach he performed in various ways, including leading tours of the farmers market to buy produce he would later prepare and serve at the restaurant for tour participants.

Tuohy enjoyed an excellent reputation for his cooking at Grange, but some diners, myself included, were occasionally frustrated that the service did not live up to the professionalism of the kitchen.

Tuohy told me by phone that he is exploring various options as his time winds down at Grange. He's also taking a look at the traditional model for running a restaurant and wondering if now might be the time to reinvent things. For instance, if he opens a new restaurant, it could also showcase agri-tourism, as well as interactive dinners and other events.

"I'm searching for a site with a kitchen and thinking it could be a multi-faceted facility," Tuohy said. "We have a tremendous opportunity in Sacramento to really grow a segment of business that I call agri-tourism."

The chef explained that such a facility could be a restaurant, but not necessarily every day. He would also like to devote some of his efforts to consulting and hosting special events.

Will such a neo-restaurant be in Sacramento? That remains to be seen. Tuohy says he is looking at local sites, as well as locations in the Napa Valley.

When our chat turned to cooking and Sacramento's identity restaurant-wise, Tuohy underscored his reputation for farm-to-table cooking. But he also mentioned he has a copy of the new cookbook sensation "Modernist Cuisine," the $625 multi-volume tome by Nathan Myhrvold.

Tuohy's interest in modern techniques, or molecular gastronomy, may surprise many of his fans. He is known for showcasing the ingredients rather than distorting or manipulating them in artful ways. But he said it's simply a matter of embracing new approaches while holding on to tried and true techniques that never go out of fashion.

"To have the opportunity to grow is very important, especially if you want to stay relevant," he said.

While Tuohy's days at the restaurant draw to a close over the next few weeks, Grange is expected to conduct a national search for a replacement.

For those interested in reading Tuohy's thoughts on food and cooking, visit his blog,

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