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Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Chef Noah Zonca has left Capital Dime.

Done with The Dime, Zonca to be a chef for hire

Published: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 - 12:27 pm

Noah Zonca’s abrupt departure from Capital Dime has not become any clearer and probably won’t any time soon.

The high-energy, outgoing Zonca, 37, gave the new midtown restaurant instant stature when he attached his name and vision to the venture. The restaurant opened last July with a novel concept — farm-to-fork cuisine for $10 a plate. But things were rocky from the start, and those prices quickly went up. Some of the entrees now cost as much as $30.

Zonca was almost always there, working the room and chatting up customers. But he wasn’t cooking.

So, what happened? At this point, it’s anybody’s guess. Contacted Friday morning, the former chef at The Kitchen said he signed a non-disclosure agreement upon his departure. That’s an unusual legal step for a local restaurant divorce.

Asked what happened, Zonca said, “I’m not at liberty to say. I signed a separation statement that we’re no longer associated. I wish them the best. That’s all I can say.”

We pushed a little more, asking about the challenges of opening a new restaurant and attempting something new.

“No matter what, opening a new business is tough,” the chef said. “I think I created something amazing. I just wanted to pursue other ventures.”

Zonca gave hints of what’s to come but wouldn’t elaborate. At one point, he mentioned TV, then said he would have to wait to provide further details.

The man who once presided over $135-per-person sold out dinners at The Kitchen, is for now a chef for hire at people’s homes. For high-end prix fixe dinner parties, Zonca will come to your home with a multi-course menu and, no doubt, give his personal touch to the affair.

“It’s kind of a dinner and a show in their home. People are really into it,” Zonca said.

Asked about the name of this upscale catering venture, Zonca said, “You know, I never really labeled it. Call it Zonca’s. It doesn’t matter.”

Zonca doesn’t have a website either. For those interested in hiring him to cook high-end prix fixe dinners, he can be reached at nzonca@gmail.com or (916) 747-7069.

Zonca said he continues to hear from customers of The Kitchen that they miss him. The performance-style restaurant is owned and operated by the Selland Family Restaurants, which also owns Ella Dining Room & Bar, and Selland’s Market-Cafe (two locations).

Zonca hinted that a venture might be in the works that will have him back in a restaurant and, perhaps, performing in front of a dining audience once again. But he said it wouldn’t be the same concept as the seminal Kitchen. He did not elaborate.

“It’s moving how much people support me,” he said. “It’s an awesome thing. I love this town.”


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
cmacias@sacbee.com
(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
apierleoni@sacbee.com
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

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

Read his restaurant reviews here
brobertson@sacbee.com
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob


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