Comstock's magazine 0419 - April 2019 - Page 31

talking to some of the local restaurateurs like Brad Cecchi at Canon that came from a Michelin-starred restaurant, it attracts people to your restaurant. It’s that credibility.” Testa says he expects dozens of local restaurants to be included in the guide, even if potentially none earn a star. Testa sold Michelin on the region’s high-end farm-to-fork credentials, playing up the fact that many of the top San Francisco restaurants source produce from the Sacramento area. “Ninety-nine percent of the country’s sushi rice is coming out of Sacramento, 80 percent of the nation’s domestic caviar is coming out of Sacra- mento. It’s more than just growing as- paragus,” Testa says. “We are growing a lot of the high-end products that are be- ing utilized across the country.” Michelin took the bait, and Visit Cal- ifornia came onboard when the concept of a statewide guide was broached, but Testa ultimately gives all the credit to the maturing Sacramento restaurant scene. “We’ve got that end-user product that fits with the production that hap- pens already in this region,” he says. “I’m optimistic we’ve got some pretty talent- ed chefs in this market that will achieve a star.” Starred restaurants tend to cater to the ultra-elite, especially those that earn multiple Michelin stars. In the 2019 Mi- chelin Guide, a third star was awarded to Atelier Crenn, an eight-seat San Francis- co restaurant with $335 tasting menus. “At its root, it’s an old French book,” says Pajo Bruich, a Sacramento native and former executive chef at Bourbon Steak San Francisco, which is owned by multi-Michelin winner Michael Mina. “It all ties back to a very old-school French culture rooted in fine dining.” When Bruich was hired in 2012 as executive chef at the now-closed Eno- tria Restaurant & Wine Bar on Del Paso Boulevard, he made a conscious and ag- gressive attempt to earn the city’s first Michelin star. The restaurant habitually struggled to draw diners away from the grid, and Bruich hoped that Michelin star power would make the difference. “It was a personal and professional goal that I held dear,” he says. “I could not afford to throw all caution to the wind, move to San Francisco and chase that, so I was going to try to create it in my own backyard.” Bruich hired a sommelier from the three-star The French Laundry, brought in a manager from the three-star The Restaurant at Meadowood, and em- ployed a public relations firm experi- enced in promoting three-star restau- rants. Numerous media events were held in San Francisco and at Enotria, and Bruich and his team kept in contact with the Michelin people through email and social media. However, even though the restaurant received rave reviews, no star was awarded, and the public support never emerged. “We went for about two years, and then people just weren’t getting it,” says industry veteran Kathi Riley Smith, who hired Bruich at Enotria while working there as a consultant. “It’s a deep com- mitment to go after a Michelin star. You need an owner that’s willing to lose money for years while you’re building that reputation.” The lack of a vast moneyed elite, especially when compared to the Bay Area or Los Angeles, is one of the great- est roadblocks to Sacramento getting a The seared ahi tuna with black garlic, mustard, chimichurri and ginger at Canon. What Sacramento area restaurants do you consider worthy of a Michelin star? TWEET US @COMSTOCKSMAG. April 2019 | 31