Reality TV dreams come true: Chef Adam Pechal to appear on ‘The Taste’

Adam Pechal has dreamt of landing a gig on the small screen for years. Not for his stage prowess though, but for his culinary artisanship. Chef Pechal – the head chef and owner of The Tuli Restaurant Group – is in it to win. He’ll make his debut on ABC’s new reality cooking show, “The Taste,” on Tuesday, Jan. 22. “I’ve been trying to get on a show for a few years with not much success,” said Pechal. “I have a casting director who’s always been in my corner and liked what I did. She gave me a call and told me there was a new show. I went and tried out and it stuck this time.” Pechal has been whipping up culinary delights in Sacramento since he started cooking at the age of 17. A graduate of New York’s Culinary Institute of America, Pechal is now the chef and owner of Midtown favorite Tuli Bistro, the sophisticated Restaurant THIR13EN and the more personalized Tuli Catering. “I’ve come and gone, but I started cooking here in Sacramento, and I’ve now been cooking for over half of my life,” Pechal said. “What I love most about my job is that no two days are the same. Each day is a whole new set of challenges, new obstacles and new adventures.” During his 15 years in the […]

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Hype about Kru Restaurant

Kru Restaurant located in downtown Sacramento is one of the most gossiped about Japanese restaurants. Receiving an astonishing four star on yelp, many customer flocks to this restaurant for their dose of the Japanese cuisine. I visited this restaurant to see what all the hype was about. Working at two Japanese restaurants I have a very high expectation of Japanese food. I work at Nishiki in downtown, and Mikuni in Elk Grove. I grew up eating Japanese food often so I wondered if the food was as delicious as described in reviews. When I saw the place from the outside it looked pretty small. Once I walked in, it was as small as it seemed. To my surprise there weren’t too many customers and we were sat immediately. They brought us two menus, one with food and the other one which contained cocktails and wine. I ordered the lychee cocktail, which was very sweet, fruity, and delicious. My companion ordered a Japanese beer, Coedo White Shiro. They had many selections from the menu to choose from. The waiter notified us of the specials and we chose to try the pork belly. We also ordered the sashimi tapa, oysters, amaebi, and spicy d roll. The oysters came out first, and they tasted delicious and fresh. It was up to par with other oysters I have eaten […]

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Mobile food vendors join for a fourth SactoMoFo festival

Foodies of Sacramento will be gathering for a fourth SactoMoFo mobile food festival. SactoMoFo 4 will be held from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on April 21. There will be more food vendors, more activities, and more space than the previous events. The new location will be at sixth and W streets under the freeway. “We anticipate seeing a lot of smiling people with food-stained faces,” said Paul Somerhausen, managing partner of SactoMoFo. The first SactoMoFo festival was held in April of last year with 20 food vendors and a crowd of over 10,000 people at Fremont park. Whole Foods, SactoMoFo’s original sponser, will be sponsoring this festival. Access to SactoMoFo is free, and the food is pay-as-you-go for each food truck. There will be live music and a beer and wine garden. A children’s area will be set up with a mobile woodshop, face painting and other activities. There will be food trucks from Sacramento as well as the rest of Northern California. Twelve food trucks will be coming from the Bay Area, including returning vendors Chairman Bao and Nom Nom. Somerhausen said there will also be new vendors because SactoMoFo tries to rotate to have fresh vendors for “hardcore foodies.” There will be a petition on city regulation of mobile food vendors that attendees can sign. The city regulations currently include a 30 […]

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Indian restaurant opens on K Street in Midtown

Indian cuisine arrived at the corner of 16th and K streets last week when Monsoon Indian Bar & Grill opened Dec. 8, and the response has been positive, co-owner Paul Singh said. “I go to Yelp, and we’re getting reallygood reviews,” Singh said. “I think it’s a good barometer, and it also gives you feedback. People take the time to go and write, and I take them seriously, even though it’s only about 10 or so so far.” Some of the most popular dishes so far, Singh said, are thechicken tikka masala, lamb Vindaloo and the samosa pakora appetizers – vegetarian-friendly pastry wraps of peas and rice. “People are coming back for additional visits, and that gives me confidence,” Singh said. Many of the nearby buildings house state offices, and some of those employees were in the restaurant for lunch on Wednesday. “This is my first time trying Indian food,” said Nadine Jordan, a 50-year-old state employee from Sacramento. “It was an awesome experience. I’ve never tried it in my life, and it was absolutely good.” Farzana Buksh, a 27-year-old state worker from Sacramento, is from an Indian background and said she thinks the food is authentic, though not necessarily what her mother would make at home. “The food was really delicious,” she said. “I had the chicken tikka masala, and it was good.” Erik […]

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A Sign in the Window

One walks down 16th Street on the “grid” in Sacramento and comes across two large and empty buildings at the corners of L and K streets. Both once newly operating restaurants in this energetic area have since closed their doors. The buildings, a common sight for many pedestrians and grid commuters like me, are prominent icons within the mid and downtown areas of Sacramento. The old Firestone building at 16th and K streets with its art deco details and sidewalk-fixed spot lights stands lonesome among the moving traffic and thriving businesses in the suites next door. The contemporary O Street Lofts, built back in 2005, beg for a tenant in their corner, first-floor suite with a wrap-around patio. If they stay vacant what will happen to the positive image that many want in the revitalization of Sacramento? In mid-2011, after only being open for just a couple of years, California Pizza Kitchen closed its doors, despite an advantageous location within Midtown, due to corporate acquisition and forced closure of many locations. Just a few months later its neighbor, Spin Burger Bar, a concept of the well-known Bistro 33 name, a block away, foundered as well. With a rough economy and deep recession many restaurants, both corporate and “mom and pop,” saw a huge hit to business in the last couple of years and struggled to […]

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Ernesto’s Mexican Food celebrates 20 years

Despite challenging times, Ernesto’s Mexican Food in Midtown will celebrate 20 years in business next week, and owner Pauline Jiménez said the key to success has been focusing on quality food and service. “We’re a neighborhood restaurant,” Jiménez said. “I’ve lived in the community for 50 years, and I think for the past 20 years we have been a staple here, and we are still going strong.” For 13 of the past 20 years, Jiménez said, Ernesto’s – located at 1901 16th St. – has been listed as best Mexican restaurant in Sacramento Magazine and has received other recognition in local contests. The business opened Nov. 18, 1991 in a space that was best-known for a Chinese restaurant, The Golden Buddha, which operated for 40 years. A pizza restaurant was there for three years in between. To celebrate the milestone, the restaurant is preparing a $20 prix-fixe menu for two people, which will include an appetizer, two entrées and dessert. The special menu will be available Nov. 17-19 starting at 6 p.m. The local Mariachi Mi Tierra Mariachi band will perform each night starting at 6:30. Tequila tastings will also be held during the celebration, with Jose Cuervo Tradicional tequila being used in all margaritas – without a price change. “We partnered with Jose Cuervo, so people are getting the premium tequila for the same […]

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Thai Basil and Level Up Lounge owner pursues second-floor patio

A Midtown business owner is looking to add a second-floor patio area to her combination restaurant and lounge, but as the plans go to the Planning Commission for review Thursday, some neighbors say it will present a noise problem. Suleka Sun-Lindley owns Thai Basil and Level Up Lounge at 2431 J St., and with the lounge – which opened in 2007 – not making money, she said she hopes the addition of an open-air balcony will help it become profitable. “Thai Basil is doing well, but Level Up has been costing us money,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m hoping that adding an area where people can go outside and smoke will make more people want to come.” The Thai restaurant, which opened in May 2002, is a successful branch of a family business begun by Sun-Lindley, her mother and sister in Roseville in 1996. Sun-Lindley, who moved from Thailand in 1989, was an architect before going into the restaurant business. After being granted a liquor license in a lottery in 2006, the upstairs portion of the building was turned into Level Up Lounge. Building an upper deck or patio was the logical solution to two problems, Sun-Lindley said. “We like to have our outdoor seating at Thai Basil, but the awning leaks in the rain, and I wanted to build a permanent covering over it,” […]

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Celestin’s to close this month

After 28 years, Celestin’s Island Eats and Cajun Cuisine is closing its doors Sept. 30, according to owner Phoebe Celestin. The Midtown restaurant will be replaced by a new venture from the owners of Capitol Garage, called The Porch Restaurant & Bar, which will feature Southern-style cuisine, according to a Wednesday press release. The business was handed down to Celestin’s son and his wife several years ago, she said, but once they had a child, they wanted to spend evenings together – something not conducive to running a restaurant. "My husband and I came back and were considering offers that have been made," Celestin said. "We talked to several people and have a really good connection with the guys from Capitol Garage." She added that there are currently no plans for her and her husband to open another restaurant, but that might be a possibility down the line. "My husband loves to cook for people and will probably do it until he is no longer able to," she said. "He may look for something similar as a labor of love, but it’s not in the plans at this moment." Celestin’s, currently located at 1815 K St., originally opened on J Street in 1983 before moving to the current space in 2001, according to the restaurant’s website. The Celestin family, originally from Port au Prince, Haiti, […]

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The Kitchen celebrates 20 years

Husband-and-wife team Randall Selland and Nancy Zimmer, who are the co-founders, executive chefs and owners of The Selland Group, will celebrate the 20-year success of The Kitchen restaurant by opening up another Selland’s Market-Café in El Dorado Hills on Nov. 24. The Kitchen started in May 1991, offering Sacramento the revolutionary demonstration dinners while providing a personal and intimate experience by talking with guests while cooking in front of them. Prior to cooking, Zimmer and Selland were both involved in art. Zimmer worked at an art gallery when she and Selland first met, Zimmer said. “I always had an interest in cooking, and I just loved to cook. (Selland) was always just an artist, and so I think he just turned his food into art.” Selland said Zimmer worked as a manager for Tower Gallery on El Camino. Selland said he was trained in the stained glass business before he became a chef. Zimmer saw his artwork at a show in Sacramento and she tracked him down because she liked his artwork. After meeting each other for the first time, they started dating and have stayed together ever since. Selland said he traveled on large-scale commissions. “I was in Amsterdam in a show in 1985,” Selland said. “I decided that I didn’t want to do (stained glass), so I traveled to Spain and Portugal. I […]

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Chefs compete in Iron Chef-style contest

Six chefs. Five secret ingredients. Three dishes. Forty-five minutes. While hundreds watch. That’s what’s happening Friday when the Celebrity Chef Challenge by InAlliance takes place in Sacramento. Half a dozen local chefs will compete in this Iron Chef-style cook-off that raises money to help people with developmental disabilities. The nonprofit’s ninth annual chef challenge will be much more spontaneous than other types of cooking contests because no one will know what the secret ingredients are until minutes before the event begins. The chefs are planning to have a good time in this friendly competition. "It’s going to be fun," said Evan’s Kitchen owner Evan Elsberry. "We’re going to put on a good show." Elsberry will take the stage in a lion costume – joining his sous chef, Michael Steele, who will be dressed as a lamb. While the theme song "Born To Be Wild" plays, Steele will prance around until Elsberry the lion takes out a fake pistol and pretends to shoot. Lamb chops will be served at the East Sacramento restaurant’s booth at the event. He will be going up against Richard Pannell of Cuisine Noir magazine, Mark Liberman of Black Sheep Butchery, Ramiro Alarcón of Tequila Museo Mayahuel, Jim Turknett of the Vizcaya and Keith Richardson of Colusa Casino. About 600 people are expected to watch as the chefs use five mystery ingredients […]

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