The scent of sizzling pork and the spirit of community wafted around Raley Field on Sunday afternoon.
FoodStock, hosted by Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant and a collective of local chefs, helped usher in two weeks of celebrations of Sacramento as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” with a pig roast for 900 people.
Twenty pigs were roasted in front of Raley Field’s main entrance, undergoing a four-hour cook over a bed of mesquite charcoal. The pigs were then trucked to a tented area behind center field, where a consortium of cooks broke them down into various pieces and bite-sized portions.
The $40 all-you-can-eat buffet included the roast pork with a variety of summery side dishes, including tomato and watermelon salad, and pasta salad. Proceeds benefited Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and Soil Born Farms.
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FoodStock was a marquee event for the opening weekend of Sacramento’s annual farm-to-fork celebrations. The festivities kicked off Friday with a tractor parade at Capitol Mall and will wrap up Sept. 28 with a sold-out gala dinner on Tower Bridge.
This weekend’s food-related activities also included a “Farm to Every Fork” dinner on Saturday to benefit homeless services. A free block party on Sunday dubbed “Farm to Handle II” showcased foods from midtown restaurants, along with spirit tastings.
Other events will include a free festival Sept. 27 at Capitol Mall, a variety of restaurant specials highlighting local ingredients and a “Legends of Wine Tasting” event at the state Capitol on Thursday.
Chef Patrick Mulvaney fashioned FoodStock after a free pig roast he once held for friends and family at his restaurant, Mulvaney’s B&L. He envisioned FoodStock as a way to engage the community about Sacramento’s farm-to-fork movement at an accessible price.
“It’s really a way to give thanks to the restaurant community and Sacramento in general,” Mulvaney said. “For me, it’s the revival of a tradition and we can present farm-to-fork in a way that doesn’t feel like a lecture.”
FoodStock carried a lazy Sunday kind of vibe, especially as attendees themselves roasted in heat that hit the mid-90s. A series of communal tables lined the outfield, though many sought shade in the stands or kicked back in left field with their plates of food. Kids tossed Frisbees while Mind X played an eclectic set of bluegrass and jazzy tunes.
The sight of multiple pigs roasting on spits drew a handful of animal rights protesters at Raley Field’s entrance.
But the FoodStock crowd was primarily a mellow bunch looking to eat among friends and family. “Farm-to-Fork is always at the top of our minds,” said Michelle Basso Reynolds, who attended with her husband, David. “It’s a great time, and it looks like a friendly bunch.”
Mulvaney’s original pig roast ran from 2002 to 2010, but was discontinued after the free event became too unwieldy for staff. He’s now hoping to make FoodStock an annual event.
“It’s something we’d like to do again,” said Mulvaney, in between greeting attendees. “Even though our staff had a love-hate affair with the original pig roast, today we get to see the love.”