Michael Passmore, the man behind the sustainable farm-raised fish operation, Passmore Ranch, in Sloughhouse, has been doing business with some of the best restaurants in Northern California.
But perhaps the biggest fish on Passmore’s list of clients is Meadowood in St. Helena, where executive chef Christopher Kostow’s cooking has earned the restaurant three Michelin stars. The only other three-star restaurant in Californa is The French Laundry in Yountville.
More recently, Passmore has branched out beyond fish to grow vegetables for restaurants on a very limited basis. As Sacramento’s Farm-To-Fork campaign began to take shape, Passmore wondered what the ranch could do to highlight what the region is all about. He came up with an idea that will boggle the minds of foodies.
“There’s much more than a chef-farmer relationship there. There’s a real relationship,” Passmore said of Kostow. “We were talking about the larger relationship of a chef and farmer working together. Both of us recognize that we’d like to evolve what’s going on and elevate it.
“I asked him, ‘Do you think you could do a really neat dinner that would celebrate this farm-to-fork relationship between farmer and chef?’”
That question and Kostow’s reply have been a year in the making, resulting in a dinner for 12 seated in the kitchen at Passmore Ranch, only a few feet from where one of America’s great culinary talents will be cooking and plating his food . That Passmore managed to get a world-renowned chef to cook for this dinner is no small feat. He’s certainly humbled and appreciative that Kostow not bought into Passmore’s vision but was able to pull off the logistics and make it happen.
The dinner will focus on fish and vegetables from Passmore Ranch, of course, with wines from Skinner Vineyards in El Dorado County.The cost is $400, with proceeds going to the Future Farmers of America program at Pleasant Grove High School.
While some may scoff at the price, consider that Kostow is a world-class chef whose work has had a major impact on the culinary scene. Further, proceeds are donated locally and, in keeping with the farm-to-fork theme, that money will be spent on creating a new generation of farmer. This is also a dinner in a private setting and is not part of the official events. Indeed, for Farm-To-Fork to be successful, the idea has to reach the masses. We need farm-to-affordable. But we also could use a smattering of these bold and prestigious events to show that Sacramento wants to play in the big leagues.
How does this dinner compare pricewise? The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento costs about $135 for its fixed menu. At The French Laundry, it’s about $240 per person, while the chef’s tasting menu at Meadowood is $225. A seat at the intimate “chef’s counter” at Meadowood, however, is $500 (though I doubt there’s a $9.95 Eventbrite fee!). And of course, there’s the $175 dinner on the Tower Bridge.
What if you really want to attend but can’t afford it? Passmore is reserving one seat at the table for someone willing to use “sweat equity” to pay for it by volunteering to help out with the big Tower Bridge dinner event and festival on Saturday. For details, contact Passmore Ranch. I’m guessing you’ll want to jump on this opportunity right away.
Update: I asked Passmore how folks can apply for the sweat equity seat and here’s what he told me:
“We will be asking those folks interested to just email us and tell us why they want to be there, how they connect with Sacramento's farmers, ranchers, and chefs. Extra points for making us laugh, cry, or jump up and down like Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch! They can send their emails to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Chef and I will read them, then choose one.”
Dinner with a 3-star Michelin chef, his cooks and his servers in a private home? Some might just call that priceless.
This is a very impressive coup for Passmore, and a great opportunity for the serious student of cooking and eating to attend what should be the meal of a lifetime.
Ready to pull the trigger and head to Sloughhouse? Visit the website here to do so.