After a four-year hiatus, it’s time to pig out again.
Patrick Mulvaney, his crew from Mulvaney’s B&L and other top Sacramento chefs are preparing an all-you-can-eat fiesta of pork and summery side dishes for approximately 1,500 hungry folks at Raley Field on Sunday.
The inaugural event, known as FoodStock, will include music as well, with cover tunes from Wonderbread 5 and bluegrass by Mind X. Proceeds will benefit Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and Soil Born Farms, the urban agriculture and food education nonprofit.
FoodStock is set to take place during the opening weekend of Sacramento’s second annual Farm-to-Fork celebration, which runs Friday through Sept. 28. Other events include a free festival at the Capitol Mall on Sept. 27 and restaurant specials that highlight local ingredients.
“We’re hoping FoodStock is a way to use farm-to-fork to embrace the community,” said Mulvaney. “It’s a day for Sacramento to come out and say, ‘We live in a cool place and we’re pretty lucky.’ ”
FoodStock is modeled after a pig-roast event that Mulvaney held for seven years. Irish whiskey flowed while chefs carved freshly roasted pork, and the free event took on a block-party vibe with crowds reaching 1,000. Being allowed to carve the pig was considered a badge of honor among chefs.
Guests included Mulvaney’s comrades in the local restaurant industry, friends and supporters. But toward the end, the gathering fell victim to its own success. Word had spread too far and wide that free food could be had at Mulvaney’s B&L on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. Mulvaney and his wife, Bobbin, pulled the plug after the 2009 pig roast.
“For me, it was always a great way to say thank you to the restaurant community and the folks who supported us through the tough times,” Mulvaney said. “It did get too big. The last three years, we didn’t have invites. We just said, ‘Don’t post this on Facebook.’ ”
The Mulvaneys decided to revive the pig roast for the wider community as the farm-to-form movement has increased its presence around the Sacramento region.
While there’s no shortage of farm-to-fork options at fine dining establishments during the citywide celebration – including the sold-out, $175-per-head Tower Bridge gala dinner on Sept. 28 – FoodStock and its $40 ticket put affordability at the forefront.
“We’re thinking about what farm-to-fork means and how we can involve the whole community,” Mulvaney said. “The pig roast began as a communal gathering for the restaurant community, and we want to bring that spirit back and with a good price.”
FoodStock is a buffet-style affair that’s geared toward filling bellies and loosening belts. In addition to the roasted pork, the meal includes a tomato-and-watermelon salad, pasta salad with roasted corn and squash, pickled onions and a dessert bar to build your own shortcake with fresh stone fruits.
Craft beers will also be for sale, along with local sodas from Silk Road.
“There will be plenty to eat, for sure,” said Mulvaney. “Leftovers will possibly go to the food bank. Nothing is going to waste.”
Prepping for this feast will start Saturday. Around 20 pigs from Stone Valley Farm of Contra Costa County will be roasted at Raley Field over a bed of mesquite coals. The pigs will first be prepped with a light vinegar solution and seasoned with salt and pepper before being cooked for up to five hours.
A volunteer crew of top Sacramento chefs will help oversee the cooking and the all-important slicing of the pork. Among those lending their culinary talents: Aimal Formoli (Formoli’s Bistro), Billy Ngo (Kru), Oliver Ridgeway (Grange), John Bays (Red Rabbit), Rob Venditti (Pangaea) and Adam Schulze (The Waterboy).
“It’ll be a return of the pig roast, just like we had at the restaurant,” Mulvaney said. “The idea is (that) we’re saying thanks and recognizing our community, which does such a great job of making Sacramento what it is.”