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  • Brian Nguyen /

    Executive chef Pajo Bruich during a recent dinner service at Enotria.

  • Janine Mapurunga

    Portrait of Pajo Bruich, part of the Sacramento Farmers and Chefs photography project.

  • Special to The Bee

    Some of the 60 portraits on display at the exhibit.

Recap: Sold out photo exhibit makes powerful statement

Published: Monday, Sep. 16, 2013 - 1:19 pm

Photographer Janine Mapurunga’s exhibit Saturday night was sold out and, from what I am hearing, the 60 oversized portraits of farmers and chefs had an emotional impact on many of those who attended.

To get a sense of what it was like, I chatted early Monday with Pajo Bruich, executive chef at Enotria, who felt the exhibit was important enough that he slipped away from a busy dinner service to attend the event. Like many chefs, Bruich has been pushing to elevate the local food and restaurant scene. And you know what? The photos he encountered Saturday showed him how far we’ve come.

“I walked into a room that had these large-than-life images of people. I think it was very impactful,” Bruich told me. “The great thing (Mapurunga) has done is shown the common bond between all of us by stripping away a lot of our external layers and showing us in our true raw form. I think that form is passion, dedication and commitment. You can see that commonality.

“All of these people are doing what they’re doing because they believe in their craft. They’re not trying to get rich. They’re not trying to be famous.”

Bruich himself has done more than his share since taking the helm of Enotria a year ago. On Wednesday in The Bee, our Chris Macias will have a story about Bruich’s impressive “guest chef” series at Enotria, in which he invites an acclaimed Bay Area chef to cook with him for a night.

So how did he feel walking into the exhibit at Sunh Fish Co.?

“There’s a piece of you that feels greatly rewarded. I walked into a room and saw a lot of pride to be part of this. This moment in time in Sacramento is so special and be will looked back upon for years. I’ve pushed for things in my way. Everybody is pushing. You have a photographer who pushed for her thing.

“It was really apparent standing in the room that something special is happening in Sacramento right now.”

Bruich, who has a very capable kitchen crew at Enotria working alongside him, showed up wearing his chef’s coat.

“It was very challenging for me to get out of the restaurant, but I thought it was very important for me to show my support for this project. I couldn’t be happier that I did. Standing in that room, there was a real sense that, ‘Wow! People are really getting it. You look into the eyes of those photographs and you say this is exciting.”

If you missed the Saturday event and want to understand what Bruich and others are getting at, a pared down version of the project will be on display beginning Wednesday at Exhibit S in the Downtown Plaza. For more about the project, check out the website here:

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob

Read more articles by Blair Anthony Robertson

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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