Brandon Guenther and Shona Campbell – owners of Valley Ford Hotel and its Rocker Oysterfeller’s eatery in Sonoma County – stumbled upon the building that once housed Placerville’s Tortilla Flats while visiting family in the foothills and found they could no longer suppress their desire to run a Mexican restaurant.
This columnist had stayed with Guenther and Campbell at Valley Ford during cycling adventures along the California coast and was surprised they had reopened a restaurant – on Aug. 4 – that is two-plus hours from their home base. Guenther explained: “My mom and my aunt live in Camino. They built a house up here. ... We saw the restaurant, and my wife had the crazy idea to call the Realtor on it. We saw the inside and fell in love with it. We saw a lot of potential and a lot of history in the property.”
Historical architecture was the same thing that attracted the couple to Valley Ford. As for their interest in Mexican food, both have a long history with that cuisine.
“I grew up 40 miles outside Yuma, (Ariz.), in the middle of the desert,” Guenther said. “I had Mexican friends whose families were in the agricultural business. It was all ag down there. I’d go with them when they’d go to Mexico to get their dental work done or to get prescriptions. It was pretty common down there. We’d eat tacos and shrimp cocktails and try to smuggle fireworks back across the border, all that fun kid stuff.”
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Guenther also helped to launch a couple of restaurants in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. One of them, Boca Bento, was named best new restaurant in the 2005 Vallarta Lifestyles Reader’s Choice Awards for dishes such as Szechwan shrimp wonton purses with poblano cream sauce and chipotle-honey glazed pork ribs. Campbell grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast where she was exposed to traditional Mexican dishes and to Tex-Mex.
Before going out on their own in wine country, the couple worked as chefs, managers and salespeople for some of the food industry’s most successful caterers: Lisa Dupar & Co. in Redmond, Wash.; Paula LeDuc Fine Catering of Emeryville; and Jackson Hicks’ Jackson & Co. in Houston, among others. Guenther said diners can expect responsibly sourced food and lots of local produce at Tortilla Flats Cantina (564 Main St.) The couple get an American version of Kobe beef from Snake River Farms for their fajitas, poultry from Mary’s Free Range Chicken, pork from Homestead Natural Meats. ...
Fashion on The Grid: Olia Kedik spent a dozen or so years establishing her reputation in the restaurant industry, opening up the Japanese-leaning fusion seafood restaurant Skool on San Francisco’s Alameda Street in 2010 and then paddling eastward to Sacramento’s K Street with her husband, Andy Mirabell, to open a second location in February.
About four years ago, though, Kedik began indulging her lifelong passion for fashion. Last year, the San Francisco edition of the shopping website Racked.com included Kedik’s Oliamoda blog as one of five fashion blogs that its staff was obsessed with reading.
“The way this started was that people in San Francisco were asking constantly what I was wearing,” said Kedik, a Russian native. “I made my Instagram into an account focused on fashion and started tagging my items, and it organically grew into this following on Instagram. ... Then I saw a need of people just wanting to see where they could get these items, so I started a blog. When you go to my blog, you can click on the items and go to the website and get it that way.”
Kedik now thinks it’s time to take her passion one step further with a monthly pop-up shop where fans of her style can buy the clothing on her blog. She plans her first such event for October’s Second Saturday from 2-9 p.m. at the Skool restaurant (2319 K St., Sacramento).
“I work with a lot of brands and designers that you can’t just go and shop for them at Nordstrom Rack,” she said. “I’m bringing items that I’ve found from around the world. ... My style is very edgy but elegant. I want to give women the opportunity to have this experience with me one-on-one as a stylist. I’d like to take them out of their comfort zone.”