Comstock's magazine 0419 - April 2019 - Page 32

n TASTE Chef Brad Cecchi of Canon says try- ing to nab a Michelin star “adds a lot of pressure to the day-to-day.” Michelin star, according to several local chefs interviewed before the announce- ment in March. “I don’t think the com- munity is screaming out for that level of dining,” Bruich says. “I don’t think we have the income for that level of dining.” Patrick Prager, who opened restau- rateur Michael Mina’s namesake restau- rant in San Francisco and currently serves as executive chef at Revival, the rooftop bar and lounge located inside the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in Sacramen- to, echoes those sentiments. “While it is possible here in Sacramento, I don’t know if the money is here yet,” he says. According to Origami Asian Grill co-owner Scott Ostrander, who worked in the kitchens of one-, two- and three- starred restaurants (including Alinea in Chicago) before returning to Sacramen- to, it’s not just about the lack of money, but the lack of an established fine-din- ing culture in the city. “The priorities are different, the customer base is different,” Ostrander says. “You could walk into Ella in the middle of summer with shorts and flip-flops on, and you’ll get served just as 32 | April 2019 if you were dressed in a blazer. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and nobody does.” (An employee at Ella confirmed there is no dress code.) Since the reviewers are all unknown faces, the attention to detail in Michelin- starred restaurants needs to be off the charts. Every move matters, so Michelin- level restaurants go to extravagant lengths to ensure that the dining experi- ence remains exactly the same from day to day. That’s because gaining or losing a star can have profound effects on a restaurant’s bottom line. “It is a pretty big boost to business, so it definitely plays a role in defining success,” says Cecchi of Canon, a restau- rant widely recognized for its refined yet adventurous cuisine since debuting in 2017. That was the same year that the Carmichael native Cecchi earned a star for his work at Solbar in Calistoga. “It’s a level of accountability that I think can make restaurants a lot better but adds a lot of pressure to the day-to-day.” Prager believes pressure is part of what breeds excellence in Michelin-level restaurants. “Michelin is super focused on everything: guest experience, the way that the dining room looks, the way the food is, the way the food is plated, the way you conduct yourself in that envi- ronment,” he says. Asked about the restaurants he be- lieves hold the best odds of earning Sacramento’s first Michelin star, Testa rattles off a list of heavy hitters that in- cludes Ella, Kru, Localis, The Waterboy, Mulvaney’s and Grange. “There’s prob- ably 10 that you intuitively feel have a decent shot or are at least in the conver- sation,” he says. Whatever happens, Sacramento will definitely be in the conversation when the California Michelin Guide is re- vealed this June. n Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer and member of the San Francisco Film Crit- ics Circle. His work has appeared in The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento News & Review, East Bay Express, Philadel- phia Weekly and San Antonio Current, among others.