Food & Drink

Lamb, beef, pork – the menu’s meaty for the Tower Bridge Dinner

Tower Bridge Dinner menu unveiled at preview

Mike Testa, CEO of Visit Sacramento, says the organization leaves the menu up to the chefs for the annual Tower Bridge Dinner, a sold-out Farm-to-Fork celebration that runs $199 per ticket. The menu was unveiled at a preview at Golden 1 Center on
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Mike Testa, CEO of Visit Sacramento, says the organization leaves the menu up to the chefs for the annual Tower Bridge Dinner, a sold-out Farm-to-Fork celebration that runs $199 per ticket. The menu was unveiled at a preview at Golden 1 Center on

The menu for the Sept. 24 Tower Bridge dinner will go heavy on meat – a focus befitting the farm-to-fork push that has become a substantial part of Sacramento’s identity.

Now in its fifth year, Sacramento’s farm-to-fork celebration spans most of September and will culminate in the sold-out, $199-per-ticket Tower Bridge Dinner, the menu for which was unveiled at a press event Monday at Golden 1 Center. Bridge dinner proceeds help fund the free Sept. 23 Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall.

The menu features whole smoked grass-fed ribeye made by chef Casey Shideler of Taylor’s Kitchen; grilled lamb loin with fennel yogurt by Chris Barnum-Dann of Localis; and a “pork and beans” dish composed of a porchetta roast, wax beans and a stone-fruit gastrique, from Golden 1/Legends Hospitality chefs Michael Tuohy and Santana Diaz.

A meatier-than-usual menu was not by any particular design, said Mike Testa, CEO of Visit Sacramento, which puts on the annual farm-to-fork celebration.

“We leave that up to the chefs,” Testa said. The dishes chosen by the chefs picked to head up each year’s bridge dinner tend to reflect their existing relationships with ranchers and farmers, Testa said.

Though the meat dishes share a heartiness factor, they would never be confused. Shideler said she smoked her ribeye – from Yuba County’s Richards’ Grassfed Beef – to distinguish it from other meat courses.

Shideler, executive chef at Taylor’s since 2016, said she wanted to be part of the bridge dinner’s chef lineup to celebrate the agricultural bounty surrounding Sacramento, and the availability of local ingredients to chefs.

“I am from Kansas, and it is not like that there,” Shideler said.

Meat also shows up in the bridge dinner’s opening course, but in much smaller doses. Chilies en nogada by Ernesto Delgado (Mayahuel, Mesa Mercado, La Cosecha) features ground pork and beef, along with fruit and nuts, inside a roasted poblano topped by walnut cream and pomegranate sauces. The dish’s green, white and red colors symbolize the Mexican flag, said Delgado, a native of Mexico. (Delgado is also making a vegan version of this dish).

Kurt Spataro, executive chef for Paragary’s restaurants, will contribute the bridge’s lone seafood dish: smoked Mount Lassen steelhead trout served with cucumber and a horseradish creme fraiche.

Sacramento branded itself as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” in 2012 and held its first Farm-to-Fork Week in 2013. Since then, the celebration has expanded to other weeks in September and its message has reached far and wide, Testa said.

“Over the past five years, we have noticed a change in the narrative on Sacramento” when visiting other cities, Testa said. “Instead of asking about the Gold Rush scene and more of the heritage here, people are asking about the food scene.”

A film titled '"Gay ceremony marks opening of a huge bridge" shows a large crowd gathered to witness the opening of Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River on Dec. 18, 1935. California Governor Frank Merriam (1934-1939) presides over the ceremony.

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