Tickets for the Sept. 29 "Farm-to-Fork Tower Bridge Dinner" are on sale starting today, and the price might come as a sticker shock for many. Tickets cost $175 per person, which makes dinner for two about the price of an iPad mini. The four-course dinner will be held on the Tower Bridge, which includes beer and wine from local purveyors, and will cap a "Farm-to-Fork Week" which kicks off Sept. 21 and includes a festival on the Capitol Mall and locavore related restaurant offerings.
Throwing a dinner for 600 people certainly doesn't come cheap. Along with the assorted food costs, servers and other staff need to be paid, makeshift kitchens will need to be installed, plates and glassware must be rented, plus the permitting and other logistics which need to be handled for shutting down the Tower Bridge for a few hours.
The food will meanwhile be crafted from a roll-call of signature Sacramento chefs, including Patrick Mulvaney, Oliver Ridgeway, Randall Selland, Molly Hawks and many more. Tables will be set up to span the length of the Tower Bridge, to create a symbolic bridge between Yolo and Sacramento counties.
But with a $175 ticket price, there's another potential bit of symbolism: The local farm-to-fork movement quickly starts looking like the "Farm-to-Silver-Spoon"movement. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a moderate weekly food budget for a family of four with children ages 6 to 11 costs $238.30. Let's just say a couple of these bridge dinner tickets would throw a huge whammy into a family household that has to stick close to its budgets.
The branding of Sacramento of "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital" is a consortium effort from the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, local chefs and restaurateurs, city officials, and other groups. While the end game is to boost food tourism to Sacramento, the initial phases of this movement are meant to sell this idea to locals.
"It's essentially an identity campaign that locals can embrace," said Mike Testa, senior vice president of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau. "If they don't believe in what we are, it won't work toward the outside. It's an education campaign of what northern California grows, what we export and why that's important."
The editors of SacTown magazine take credit for inspiring this bridge dinner idea after learning about a series of bridge brunches in Portland. However, the cost of those Portland brunch festivals were just $25 per person, and the ticket price included food. Attendees could also purchase additional food from other vendors on the bridge.
Sacramento's "Farm-to-Fork Week" will also include low cost and free events, including a free Sept. 28 festival on the Capitol Mall that features cooking demonstrations, food vendors, live music and more. Monies raised from the Tower Bridge dinner will be used for funding such public farm-to-fork events, said Testa.
"We expect the (Tower Bridge dinner) quality to be second to none," Testa added. "We also plan to bring in higher end local wines. Part of the price is for the experience. The Tower Bridge has never been closed down and there are fees associated with that."
So, do you plan on attending this Tower Bridge dinner?
* YES, this is a historic Sacramento dinner and the costs are understandable.
* NO, I am priced out.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.
FROM THE BEE: