Sacramento's culinary talent has been tapped yet again by the Bay Area. Mike Ward, former executive chef of Slocum House and sous chef at The Kitchen, was recently named executive chef of El Paseo in Mill Valley. This eatery is part of the restaurant group overseen by celebrity chef Tyler Florence, and includes the "red rocker" Sammy Hagar as a proprietor.
Ward's been on the new job just a week, and he's already rubbed elbows with one Hollywood starlet. In his first night on the job, the actress Jessica Alba was one of El Paseo's diners, and posted a pic of her red beet soaked deviled eggs on her Instagram feed. Ward got his own shot with Alba as well.
"She gave me a hug," said a still smitten Ward. "I won't front - that was pretty cool."
Ward was recruited for this gig by Mike Thiemann, the former executive chef of Ella Dining Room & Bar who was recently named culinary director of Tyler Florence's restaurant group.
Ward's culinary stints in Sacramento included the former Lounge ON20, where he developed its much lauded charcuterie program, and executive chef of Rio City Cafe in Old Sacramento. He also spent a year in New York City as an apprentice at such Michelin-starred restaurants as Per Se, Eleven Madison Park and Gilt.
Ward says he plans to pop into Sacramento for some guest chef stints.
"I thought through this decision a lot," said Ward. "I wondered, do I really want to leave now? But in the grand scheme of things, it was such a great opportunity that I couldn't turn down."
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