Food & Drink

All-female team, two-Michelin-starred chef to cook this year’s Tower Bridge Dinner

Sacramento’s most exclusive meal will be cooked by an all-female team for the first time this year.

Suzette Gresham of two-Michelin-starred Acquerello in San Francisco will helm the 2019 Tower Bridge Dinner on Sept. 29, according to a Visit Sacramento news release distributed Friday morning.

Gresham will be flanked by four prominent Sacramento female chefs:

“We’re thrilled to have Chef Gresham and such a talented, local team leading this year’s dinner,” Visit Sacramento President/CEO Mike Testa said in the release. “Together, the team offers a combination of skill, experience and diverse expertise that will result in what I believe to be one of our most exciting experiences to date.”

The Tower Bridge Dinner caps Visit Sacramento’s annual Farm-to-Fork Festival and serves as a major fundraiser for the following year’s festival.

Gresham became just the third American woman to earn two Michelin stars at Acquerello in 2015. The San Francisco Chronicle recently named Acquerello, which Gresham opened with business partner Giancarlo Paterlini in July 1989, one of the city’s Top 100 for the 22nd consecutive year.

A Grass Valley native and The Sacramento Bee’s 2002 Sacramento region female high school golfer of the year, Harvie cooked at several San Francisco restaurants before coming back to Sacramento to helm LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar. She was slated to be executive chef of The Patriot in Carmichael, but left before it opened to be chef de cuisine at The Kitchen.

Shideler, a Mulvaney’s B&L and Blackbird Kitchen & Bar alumna, attended culinary school in her native Kansas before moving to Sacramento in 2014. Named Taylor’s Kitchen’s executive chef at the age of 29, she previously cooked the Tower Bridge Dinner in 2017.

Hawks and her husband Michael Fagnoni run her eponymous Granite Bay restaurant as well as East Sacramento’s Hawks Provisions + Public House. After earning a degree in biology from UCLA, she veered off from pre-med studies to attend the California Culinary Academy, which led to positions at Bay Area restaurants Lapis, Village Pub and LiveFire.

Sawada opened Binchoyaki as the pastry chef alongside husband Craig Takehara, though she has since stepped back to take care of their two young children. Born in Japan and raised in Los Angeles, she attended culinary school in Pasadena and worked as a sous chef in several Southern California restaurants.

Jeremiah Tower of Chez Panisse fame ran last year’s dinner with help from Ed Roehr of Magpie, Ravin Patel of Selland Family Restaurants, Brad Cecchi of Canon and Kathi Riley Smith of Oak Cafe and American River College’s culinary arts program. Tower cooked at the groundbreaking Berkeley restaurant for six years before opening Stars in San Francisco, then disappeared off the face of the culinary map for much of the last 20 years.

A small number of tickets are available to the public through a lottery, which can be entered here. If selected, two tickets cost $465.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.