Restaurant News & Reviews

The Kitchen becomes Sacramento’s first and only Michelin-starred restaurant

The Kitchen became the first and only Michelin-starred Sacramento restaurant Monday, joining dozens of other restaurants in the first-ever statewide guide by receiving one star.

Sixty-nine restaurants received one Michelin star, including 27 newcomers. This marked the first year Sacramento restaurants were eligible.

“The Kitchen provides an interactive dining experience in Sacramento that doubles as dinner and a show,” Michelin’s description of the restaurant read. “Whether you’re slurping oysters in the kitchen’s cooler or chatting with your neighbors over hors d’oeuvres, this elaborate menu is a spectacle that is sure to impress.”

When Randall Selland and Nancy Zimmer founded The Kitchen in 1991, it was open just one night per week and served three courses for $35. Selland was the loud, engaging emcee and chef, a title he later relinquished to former dishwasher Noah Zonca, who died at age 41 last year.

The Kitchen now does one seating per night of a five-course, $135-per-person dinner (plus gratuity and drinks). Customers are told to budget up to four hours for their meal, which includes unguided tours of the kitchen, interactive theater from the chef and second helpings of certain dishes upon request.

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After Zonca left to open Capital Dime in 2013, John Griffiths and David Chavez each had turns as The Kitchen’s emcee/chef before current host Kelly McCown took over in July 2015. McCown had previously been chef at Ella Dining Room & Bar as well as Goose & Gander in Napa Valley, which earned a Bib Gourmand from Michelin under his leadership.

The Kitchen was named among the top 100 restaurants nationwide in separate polls by Open Table and Wine Spectator in 2016 and was a James Beard Award semifinalist for the “Outstanding Restaurant” category in 2012. It has held AAA’s 5-Diamond rating since 2011, placing it among the top 0.2 percent of restaurants reviewed by the travel/insurance agency.

Selland Family Restaurants also owns Ella, OBO’ Italian Table & Bar and Selland’s Market-Cafe, and plans to soon open Bawk in the R Street Corridor with Urban Roots co-founder Rob Archie. The restaurant group had announced The Kitchen would move to 10th and Broadway in 2015, but ultimately opened a third Selland’s Market-Cafe in that remodeled office park two years later.

Canon, Mother and Frank Fat’s were recognized last week on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, which highlights restaurants where customers can order two dishes and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. The list included 151 restaurants from Monterey, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Sacramento and the Bay Area.

Michelin also gave out Plates to Allora, Bacon and Butter, Mulvaney’s B&L, Ella, Ming Dynasty, Zocalo, Mayahuel, Binchoyaki Izakaya, Localis and Grange. The designation means all will be included in the guide as very good restaurants.

Fourteen restaurants were awarded two stars, all in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, and seven Bay Area restaurants were awarded three stars. San Diego and Monterey each received one star, while Santa Barbara received none.

Visit California paid Michelin $600,000 to expand its guide throughout the state this year. The travel company publishes guides for 32 cities or countries worldwide but only Chicago, Washington D.C., California and New York City within the U.S.

To see the complete list of starred restaurants, click here.

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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.