May 11, 2012
SacTown Dining Collective forms, will host kick-off dinner

Here's something most local chefs can agree on: the talent pool for Sacramento chefs runs deep, and the area deserves a better reputation given its quality restaurants and access to world-class produce. The SacTown Dining Collective was born with this idea of rallying local chefs to better promote this town, but behind the scenes, it's been more like the SacTown Herding Cats Collective. What exactly will this collective do? Who will represent the group in front of media, and what's its agreed upon message? And who's up for meeting at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning to figure all this out?

That's to say, despite its good aims, getting a bunch of chefs together isn't so easy. There's overloaded work schedules to contend with, family obligations, not to mention the strong personalities which are a hallmark of many chefs. But, after a few months of figuring this out and a few hurt feelings, the SacTown Dining Collective board was recently formed: Mike Thiemann (Ella Dining Room & Bar), Adam Pechal (Tuli Bistro, Restaurant Thi13en), Pedro Depina (Ettore's), Kimio Bazett (The Golden Bear) and Amber Turner - a local food enthusiast with a marketing background who came up with the idea for this collective. Other members of the collective include Pajo Bruich (formerly of Lounge ON20), restaurant consultant Andy Soto, Michael Passmore (Passmore Ranch), Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney's B&L and about a dozen others.

"We all have ultra-full lives but we're ready to go that extra step because we care so much about this industry and what we're doing in this community," said Pechal. "All of us chefs are very supportive of one another and we want to raise the bar for all of us. It's all about pulling our resources together and hopefully get more into a national scale."

To introduce the group to the public, a kick-off dinner featuring the Sacramento Dining Collective will be held on June 7. The event will be held at Plate's Cafe (Depot Park at 14 Business Park Way, Bldg. 149, Sacramento), which helps support homeless women with children via job training in the hospitality industry. The event includes a cocktail hour and reception, along with appetizers and a three-course menu created by some of Sacramento's most prominent chefs. Thiemann will serve as head chef, with all others collaborating on various dishes.

"It'll be fun," said Pechal. "I love being under another chef, like, 'What do you need, chef?' In this situation, we're all out for a common good and there's no room for stepping on toes."

Tickets cost $45, and can be purchased here.

The SacTown Dining Collective is brainstorming more events, possibly to include an outdoor summer festival and bike crawl through local restaurants.

"We've done pretty well in keeping our structure and organization," said Pechal. "We're looking to bring in more members. It's all about educating people and making them aware of the things we're doing with an emphasis on local products. That's our ace in the hole."

Chris Macias is the Bee's food and wine writer. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias

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