Appetizers

Sacramento’s top pastry chefs star in a savory-meets-sweet prix fixe dinner

Five of the top pastry chefs in the region are pooling their talents to host a dinner extravaganza that promises to provoke questions about the role of sweet and savory in a modern eating experience.

Tickets for this Nov. 9 10-course tasting menu dinner go on sale today at Eventbrite.com. Tickets are $115 per person, plus a $7.52 service charge. There will be two seatings for this dinner, each limited to 30 people. Mother Restaurant is hosting the event, but it will not be restricted to vegetarian dishes. As the dinner’s promotional poster states, the meal is expected to “blur the line between sweet and savory.”

Prompted by Ramon Perez, whose Puur Chocolat creates and sells artisan chocolates online, these chefs have banded together to take charge of a dinner in a way traditional savory chefs would. The idea is to see how they might approach savory courses, how they use ingredients in new and provocative ways and, if all goes according to plan, compel devoted foodies to think about sweet and savory elements in new ways.

When Perez moved to Sacramento last year to start Puur, he took stock of the local talent pool and knew he wanted to get the best of the pastry chefs together to push each other, inspire new ideas and, most of all, wow folks who sit down to eat their food. The other participating pastry chefs are Matt Masera of Mother, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn of Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, Edward Martinez of Bourbon Steak in San Francisco (formerly of Hawks and Enotria), and Jane Anderson of Ella Dining Room & Bar.

“It’s an event I put together in Los Angeles about two years ago,” said Perez. “I basically took the best talent there, and we did a one-night pop-up. It sold out right away, and we had an incredible turnout. We had a lot of calls afterward asking us to do more and more of these sweet-and-savory events because people were really digging it. It’s the uniqueness of pastry chefs doing savory. I honestly think the talent up here is as good if not better than what there is in L.A.”

Asked how the dinner will work, Perez said the specific dishes being served will not be revealed until the dinner. He said the chefs, have been planning their courses for weeks, could serve food that looks like one thing and tastes like something else.

“I’m not going to give my dish away, but my savory course is basically based off of a cake that I’m doing,” he said. “It will be a fun outlook, but at the same time, doing a dinner this way can entertain and educate the guests about what we’re doing.”

The pastry chefs all go about their business in different ways. Some focus on modern techniques and create desserts that look and perhaps taste radically different than the classics. Others, are more grounded in tradition, with an emphasis on balance and familiar flavors. They say that working together will tempt them to up their games, take calculated risks and take their works to new heights.

Masera, who these days spends much of his time as executive chef at Mother cooking in the savory realm, got his start in desserts and trained for a time under Hahn at Ginger Elizabeth. He says the two disciplines are vastly different in approach and temperament.

“With savory, it’s a lot of cooking by eye. It’s more tasting as you go. Whereas with desserts, you’re prepping days ahead just to keep up. It’s a process. Everything is measured. It’s a science. With savory cooking, it’s a lot more on the fly and in the moment, which is great, too.

For this dinner, then, these chefs will be in both disciplines. They will also be trying to show off to their colleagues and, of course, wow the paying customers.

“That’s one of the driving forces,” said Perez, when asked about the idea of trying to top the other chefs. “When you have five insanely talented pastry chefs working together, we’re all going to be feeding off of each other and it’s only going to make everyone better.”

Said Masera, “Any time people are paying for an event like this, you’re a rock star in a way. You’re going up on stage, and people are paying to see your show. So there is a little bit of showing off. We don’t get to do it on a day-to-day basis like that, so it’s going to be fun.”

Hahn, whose Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates has become renowned as a retail dessert experience, says she is not only looking forward to the creative challenge — she’s never done savory dishes in a professional setting — but also the energy of being in throes of a live restaurant dinner experience.

“It’s a challenge for me because I haven’t done it in years. It’s an energy that I’ll never be able to get again,” she said.

Tickets are expected to sell out quickly. In addition to the $115 dinner, there is wine pairing option for $55. Purchasing the wine pairing is not done through Eventbrite, but by emailing Perez directly at ramon@puurchocolat.com.

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