West Sacramento is on the rise as a player in the farm-to-fork game, and its new-look farmers market on Thursday nights is a reflection of that. Last year, city politicos asked Chris Jarosz, co-owner of the popular Wicked Wich food truck and the highly regarded casual eatery Broderick Roadhouse, to help boost the farmers markets image and recast its mission.
Jarosz and members of a committee looked for ways to make the market distinctive from others in the region. One of the initiatives launched last year is the DigIn! dinner series, in which a prominent local chef is paired with a local politician to prepare a multicourse dinner for 120 guests. The first dinner this year was Thursday featuring Michael Thiemann, chef/owner of Mother. To make reservations for the dinners, which are $75 per person (including beer and wine), or for more more information, visit www.westsacramentochamber.com.
Why are you involved in the West Sacramento farmers market?
When we moved here, the West Sacramento Chamber recognized that we were really active with sourcing from local farmers. They asked me to sit on the steering committee, and we gave (the market) a whole new look. We came up with some ways to change the market from somewhere that just sold produce to something that engaged the consumer and educated them at the same time.
Last year, the DigIn! dinners were a big hit. What are they like?
On the last Thursday of every month, we get a local chef to come out and source produce from the farmers market. We set up a big tent with two long tables for 120-130 people. The chef will cook a casual, fine dining dinner and they will speak throughout the dinner about what they did, how it was sourced and whatever people want to ask. There is a charity component to each dinner. Last year, every one of them sold out. Its a really cool space. Youre sitting in front of City Hall on West Capitol under a big tent.
Progressive food ideas keep coming out of West Sacramento. Whats going on?
I think its the governments ability to work together. Theyre able to get things done in a timely manner. Its an inspiration to think you can go into a community and not get push-back but actually get a pull in the other direction where they say: How can we help you get to the next level? When we wanted to open Broderick, Mayor (Christopher) Cabaldon sat down and had coffee with us and he said, If anything gets in your way, give me a call and let me know.
Why are your food trucks and restaurant embracing farm-to-fork?
For me, its a passion for food. I came from the East Coast, where the growing season was three months in a good year. Coming here and seeing the access we had to incredible meat and fish, and to be able to go out to the farms and talk to farmers, was inspiring. Were at a point where we have pieces of several small farms dedicated to growing for us. We have five farms growing Hungarian wax peppers for our Johnny Cash burger.
Why should people give the West Sac farmers market a look?
Its great produce. Theyre not mass-producing anything. Its actually that farmer who pulled it out of the ground. All of the farmers are excited to talk to you about their produce and how to use it. Once a month, we get all the microbreweries together to talk about their beer. Theres a healthy living segment where they come out and talk about sustainability or zero waste. We do a thing called farm to food trucks where we donate our truck once a month to an up-and-coming chef or a person interested in getting into the business.
Call The Bees Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.