Recap: Sold out photo exhibit makes powerful statement

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: