Just about a year to the date which Mike Thiemann took over as executive chef for Ella Dining Room & Bar, he will be leaving Sacramento in early February. Thiemann has accepted a job as culinary director for Tyler Florence, the Food Network celebrity chef who oversees restaurants, a line of cookware and authors cookbooks. Before Thiemann came to Ella in early 2012, he served as Florence's chef de cuisine and helped him open restaurants and develop recipes.
Thiemann will serve as Florence's right hand man in many facets of his food empire.
"It was cool that he offered me the title," said Thiemann. "I didn't expect to leave Sacramento so quick. Tyler was always a great working partner. The idea of doing multiple projects is something that works with me. There is going to be a new learning curve."
Thiemann is a Rancho Cordova native who started his restaurant career at the now-defunct Greta's Cafe at 19th and Capitol in midtown. From there, his culinary travels took him to New Zealand, Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay Area with Florence. Thiemann is also well known in local indie-rock circles for playing drums in Yah Mos, a nationally renowned hardcore punk band, and Crash & Britany, which was handpicked to open for Pearl Jam in Golden Gate Park.
While we're happy to see Thiemann land this prestigious gig, it still stings a little that Sacramento's restaurant scene is losing another of its leading chefs to the Bay Area. Thiemann was an active member of the SacTown Dining Collective, led one of the most unique dinners of 2012 at Verge Gallery and was promoted to oversee all of the kitchen in the Selland Group, which operates Ella, The Kitchen and Selland's Market-Cafe.
Ella sous chef Ravin Patel will take over for Thiemann as executive chef.
"Working with Ravin, he's amazing and I really care about him," said Thiemann. "I'm actually stoked to get out of his way.
The good news is that Thiemann will still maintain a bit of a presence in Sacramento's dining scene after he moves to the Bay Area next month. Thiemann will help kick off a new series of pop-up dinners starting in March and be a part of Sacramento's official "Farm to Fork" activities later in 2013, among other obligations.
"I love Sacramento, so you'll see me around," said Thiemann. "I honestly had one of the best professional years of my life. I'm leaving on good terms. Sacramento has a cheerleader in the wider world. I will be singing its praises."
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