By Bruce Houdesheldt
With each passing day we get closer to the official start to Fall, which is a busy time in the Sacramento Valley as stone fruit, tomato, walnut, and almond harvest give way to rice harvest.
It is the culmination of a year, unlike the past three, in which water has been available to work together with sun and soil to yield a bountiful harvest worthy of celebration. The Sacramento Valley faces challenges with commodity prices and recovery from three years of drought, yet the one thing that has been a hallmark of the Sacramento Valley for many generations is the fortitude and undaunted spirit to bring the region to life.
To capture this spirit, a group of talented local chefs–Patrick and Bobbin Mulvaney, Randy Selland, and Josh Nelson–faced a seemingly impossible task, to design a restaurant on top of what is California’s shortest highway, the Tower Bridge, to bring a four-star dining experience to 800 people showcasing the unmatched local bounty and flavors of Northern California. Since 2013, the Tower Bridge Dinner has been the culmination of and showcase for Farm-to-Fork activities in the region.
The Tower Bridge Dinner and Farm-to-Fork have highlighted the important intersection of the region’s amazing farming and culinary communities, with proceeds from the dinner advancing Farm-to-Fork activities on Capitol Mall and providing scholarships for students in Sacramento State’s CAMP program, developed for the children of migrant farmworkers.
This year’s dinner entrees featured ingredients from well-known names from the Sacramento Valley, including Rancho Llano Seco, Full Belly Farm, Durst Organics, Rue and Forsman, and Twin Peaks Orchard. This year’s chef team included Chef Rebecca Campbell of Sac City Brews & Nourish Event Kitchen; Chef Sean Rumery of Canon East Sacramento; Chef Derek Sawyer of Allora; Chef Dennis Syndor of Renegade Dining and Café Frederico; and Chef Craig Takehara of Binchoyaki Izakaya, along with Culinary Advisors Brad Cecchi, executive chef and partner of Canon; Patrico Wise, chef/owner of Nixtaco Mexican Kitchen; and Tyler Bond, chef and founder of two local farm-to-fork underground dining circuits, “We the Freaks” and “Dirty Feet Dining.” Many of these entities are in the new 3-part television series featuring local food and farms, Breaking Bread.
We celebrate the farmers in the Sacramento Valley and the culinary pioneers in the region who have made Sacramento the Nation’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, as well as providing important fish and wildlife benefits that offer biodiversity that makes the region unique and special. We are proud that our working agricultural landscapes and vibrant communities create the ingredients for the Tower Bridge Dinner, and the food that supports the people and fish and wildlife that grace this region.
On October 19, the NCWA family will come together at 4:00pm for our annual celebration of the Sacramento Valley and its families, farms, fish, and fowl at Matchbook Winery in the Dunnigan Hills. It would be our honor to have you join us in celebrating the bountiful life created by the union of water, land, and sun!