Table Talk Sacramento brings together local food community
The Sacramento Bee and The Sacramento Press teamed up Wednesday night to host Table Talk Sacramento inside the Sacramento Bee building at 2100 Q St. The two-panel discussion addressed the need for a variety of local food writers and various trends being seen within the food and dining communiy.
The first panel focused on the state of Sacramento food writing. Moderated by Chris Macias, the Bee’s food and wine writer since 2008, the discussion featured local blogger Catherine Enfield of Munchie Musings, Niesha Lofing of The Sacramento Bee and Micah Rousey a member of the Yelp Elite Squad for his bulk of restaraunt reviews on Yelp.
“The purpose of this is to get people into a room, get people talking,” Macias said in his opening comments.
He then opened the panel discussion with a question about the purpose of food writing and what types of stories the food panelists find the most valuable.
“What I enjoy most about food writing are the stories that draw you in, that tell a fantastic tale that you can relate to,” Lofing responded.
The panel went on to address the need in the community for food writers, reviewers and bloggers. Macias made the point that everyone has to eat and that focus has to be put on different audiences and demographics.
“I would like to think I’m writing from an average, everyday person’s perspective,” Enfield said about her blog. She added that bloggers should use their blogs to promote local community involvement, like the SactoMoFo Festival on April 30.
SactoMoFo, which stands for Sacramento Mobile Food Festival, is being organized by Enfield and others to promote reasonable city ordinances for food trucks.
The panel closed with a discussion of coming trends. Lofing noted how sustainability, far from being just a trend, is becoming more practical and there are more people eating within a local radius.
“My impression is that Sacramento has always been a farm to table sort of town,” Macias added.
The second panel focused on food and dining trends. It featured Ella Dining Room and Bar Executive Chef Kelly McCown, Preferred Meats, Inc. corporate chef John Paul Khoury, Corti Bros. Market store director Rick Mindermann and was moderated by Allen Pierleoni, a senior writer at the Bee.
Mindermann addressed the issue of trends in the market being cyclical.
Khoury said that the trend is definitely toward more sustainable food and dining but also that the industry continues to change and expand toward more relationship-based production and consumption. By this, he meant creating a connection with the farmer and the animal.
“The change I see is that I bring something into Sacramento now that wouldn’t have sold 10 years ago,” he said. One example he gave was humanely grown and sustainable beef.
This change, he said, more specifically is creating a link from farmer to distributor to restaurant. As distributor, he works directly with the farmer and can then pass on the origin of the product to the restaurant. It creates a trust, he said, and that trust helps create a new experience where people might venture out and try different foods.
McCown said he has noticed a large trend in the market with cocktails. He has noticed a swing toward unique, hand-crafted drinks. Just like food, he said, they are created with a full chef-like experience of presentation.
Most of the panel participants largely discussed the complex network it takes for food, and more specifically meats, to get to the restaurant.
But trust, they all agreed, has to be maintained.
There was a wide variety of attendees. Some operated local blogs on food, recipes and dining, while others were just interested in the topic.
Sacramento locals Abby Fox and Heather Kirkpatrick came to the panel together. They came because they read local food blogs and have also attended other food festivals and events.
“The whole scene is just fascinating from a consumer’s point of view,” Kirkpatrick said.
Fox said she lived near an Almond Orchard in Modesto at one point in her life, and this developed an understanding and interest in agriculture.
“More and more, it’s important to me to know where my food is coming from,” she said.
Also in attendance was Kimberly Morales, author of local food blog Poor Girl Eats Well. She said she came because she likes to see what other members of the local food community are talking about.
Morales said she likes to support those who provide insight into what bloggers have to offer the local community.
“I liked the diversity of panelists they chose,” she added.
Morales added that the second panel’s discussion of trust and quality were very similar to her own delivery of recipes and the relationship she hopes to have with her readership.
After all of the talk about food, attendees were treated to a seafood and chorizo paella from Source Global Tapas, which was prepared and cooked on site.