Sacramento's 'Farm-to-Fork' dinner on Tower Bridge sells out quickly

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 4, 2013 - 12:08 pm

Showing that Sacramentans have an appetite for high-cost dining, $175 tickets for a "Farm-to-Fork Tower Bridge Dinner" were gobbled up within hours of going on sale.

Six hundred seats went on sale Monday morning and were sold out by midafternoon.

The dinner will be held Sept. 29 on the Tower Bridge as a finale for Sacramento's inaugural "Farm to Fork Week." The four-course dinner, which includes local beer and wine, will be prepared by more than 20 Sacramento area chefs. A series of tables will be set up on the Tower Bridge, creating one long communal meal for 600 people.

Chefs who plan to participate include Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney's B&L, Oliver Ridgeway of Grange, Randall Selland of the Kitchen, Billy Ngo of Kru and more than a dozen others.

"Based on the chatter leading up to the event, the sellout doesn't surprise me," said Josh Nelson of the Selland Group, which oversees the Kitchen and Ella Dining Room & Bar, and will participate in the Tower Bridge dinner. "I expected it within 24 hours, not eight hours."

The Tower Bridge dinner stems from Sacramento being branded in October as "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital" by a consortium led by local restaurateurs and chefs, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, civic officials and others. Mayor Kevin Johnson proclaimed 2013 is the "year of food" in his State of the City address, and mentioned preliminary "Farm to Fork Week" plans in his February speech.

Boosting food tourism to Sacramento is one goal of the area's farm-fork-movement, but the initial focus is to gain local support.

"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."

Activities for September's "Farm to Fork Week" include restaurant specials, events at area farms and a free Sept. 28 festival on the Capitol Mall that will feature food vendors, cooking demonstrations and more.

The Tower Bridge dinner was inspired by a series of brunches held on Portland's Hawthorne Bridge. Unlike Sacramento's high ticket price for dining on a bridge, the Portland bridge brunches cost $25 per person. Attendees could also purchase additional food from other vendors.

The Tower Bridge dinner was geared partly to fund public events for "Farm to Fork Week." The dinner stands to gross more than $100,000 through a combination of ticket sales and sponsorships for tables of eight, which cost $3,000 and $5,000.

A waiting list for Tower Bridge dinner tickets has since become available through www.farmtoforkcapital.com.

"In some ways this is a fundraiser that allows us to have marketing dollars," said Testa. "We're trying to create an event that we can put revenue back into free public events."

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. On Twitter @chris_macias.

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