Look for a new executive chef to be heading Ella Dining Room & Bar starting Feb. 1. His name is Michael Thiemann, and is currently executive chef with the San Francisco Bay area's Wayfare Tavern and Hawks Tavern. If Thiemann's name sounds familiar, it might be because he's a former Sacramento local who started his culinary career at the now-defunct Greta's Cafe. He has since landed chef gigs in New Zealand, Hawaii and most recently with the Tyler Florence restaurants Wayfare Tavern and Hawks Tavern.
The owners of Ella conducted a national search after chef Kelly McCown put in notice that he was returning to Napa wine country. McCown will be chef at Goose & Gander, located in the former Martini House - a restaurant where McCown once worked before coming to Sacramento about two years ago.
For Thiemann's try-out at Ella, he prepared a range of dishes including salmon crudo, a sous vide 1/2 chicken, lamb shanks and other items. His managerial experience with Tyler Florence's restaurant group helped seal this deal.
"Since he's from Sacramento, I've known Mike and followed his career," said Josh Nelson, a partner in The Selland Group, which operates Ella. "Putting out quality food is one thing, but putting out quality food and being a good manager is another. At Wayfare Tavern, Mike is used to dealing with both."
Thiemann will start transitioning into his new Ella role starting this month, with help from McCown, and then lead the kitchen on his own by Feb. 1.
Chris Macias is the Bee's food and wine writer. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias