The Taste, an ABC reality show where the judges blindly taste one spoonful without getting a glimpse of the chef or hearing a description of the dish, premiered last night on ABC. Sacramento's own Adam Pechal of Tuli and Restaurant Thir13en is a contestant on the show, but after the first two hours of auditions, he's yet to hit the silver screen.
Next Tuesday is the third and final hour of auditions where Pechal is sure to make an appearance.
In the interim, the Sac Bee's Chris Macias profiled the hometown chef ahead of Tuesday's series premiere:
Pechal honed his cooking chops at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. – Bourdain's alma mater – but being a chef has been in his blood since he was a toddler. Pechal was raised in the Pocket-Greenhaven area of Sacramento, where he learned to cook while his peers were still playing with Hot Wheels...
Pechal has paid plenty of kitchen dues since launching his career at age 15, first taking a job in the Downtown Plaza food court at Steak Escape. He's since become a staple of Sacramento's restaurant scene, with other stints in Napa, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Pechal served as sous chef and head of the grill station at downtown's Esquire Grill, where dinner rushes meant a spool of ticket orders running to the floor, and hovering over the hottest spot in the kitchen.
"I got my butt kicked at that place," Pechal said. "It's not 'Esquire Sauté,' it's Esquire Grill."
Pechal once worked days on the wok station at P.F. Chang's and nights cooking Asian fusion at the now- defunct Sammy Chu's. ("We got to do these amazing recipes. To this day, I made the best pad thai I've ever had.")
Read the entire profile in the Sac Bee.
Warm your Toes at Midtown's Zocalo - The tacos – three to an order – came composed on earthy housemade flour tortillas and contained large chunks of succulent fried fish, crunchy chopped cabbage, radish slices and cilantro. Drizzled with a feisty chipotle aioli and garnished with pico de gallo salsa, the tacos exploded with fresh, clean flavors and an enticing combination of textures. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.
First Bite: Hampton's on Sutter - I had a great burger recently at Hampton’s on Sutter, a new “Urban Drink and Eatery” located in the historic section of Folsom. Crowded and convivial, the spot features a lively bar area downstairs and an expanded dining loft upstairs. The restaurant has a number of creative burgers – I tried the Taco Guac Burger, piled on a jalapeno aioli-slathered bun and topped with melted cheddar and Jack cheeses, with a chunky, spicy house-made guacamole – a fun, messy nosh on a chilly Folsom evening. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.
State of the burrito - As a Californian, native or otherwise, it is your civic duty to learn about the hybrid dish known as the California burrito. This burrito originated in Southern California, specifically in San Diego, and is a mixture of carne asada, cheddar cheese, grilled onions and french fries. It simple, elegant, timeless and a brilliant mash-up of Mexican and American culture, just like California herself. As one would hope, California Burrito makes an excellent example of such a dish. Becky Gruenwald in Sac News & Review.
Roseville promoter hangs his future on beer pong - The Beer Pong King, with a microphone peeking from his front pocket, ascends to his throne – otherwise known as the DJ booth at the Union in Roseville. Below he sees four long tables stacked with red plastic party cups, a crowd of 20 thirsty teams vying for a $100 purse, and wayward pingpong balls popping around the floor like random bacon splatter. "Welcome to Tuesday night beer pong at the Union," said his royal highness, his microphone now live. "If you're here for beer pong, come see me at the DJ booth. And we've got $5 pitchers all night. Anyone looking for a partner?" Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.
Skip the Corn Nuts: Two gas stations, two restaurants, many options to fill up your tank - The human entrepreneurial spirit is amazing. For instance, New York magazine just published an article about rings of thieves stealing vast amounts of Tide laundry detergent in order to resell it for $5 a pop on the street. Anywhere there is a tiny gap, someone will envision a business or product to fill the need—so why not a restaurant inside a gas station? Why not two such establishments? Gold Town Chinese in Davis, which adjoins an Exxon station, is not the first Chinese restaurant to occupy this space—or even the second. The first, Hometown Chinese, specializing in Taiwanese cuisine, was successful enough to move to a storefront in downtown Davis; judging from how popular it is with UC Davis students, Gold Town may also be well on its way. Becky Gruenwald in Sac News & Review.