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Tower Bridge Dinner Chefs An Example Of Resilience We've Come To Know Amid Pandemic

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The table is set for one of the most iconic fundraisers in Sacramento. The Tower Bridge Dinner helps raise money for a good cause and forges relationships within a community made famous for its farm-to-fork style dining.

"Overall, for us now, it's about health," said Santana Diaz, executive chef for UC Davis Health.

Diaz was going over recipes for this year's Tower Bridge Dinner while remembering how the Farm-to-Fork festival favorite was canceled by COVID last year.

"It was quite disappointing when we had just started having meetings last March and a team," he said.

Diaz will bring his experience to the table. He has changed hospital food – prioritizing fresh ingredients from local farmers in the thousands of meals his staff prepares daily.

He will get some help from other chefs doing the same as they will prepare more than 800 dinners for the iconic fundraiser. Even though the chefs were selected in 2020, they represent the year that was.

"We obviously have Chef Santana from a hospital network in a time when we are so reliant on healthcare. We have an executive chef from Raley's when so many of us were looking to the grocery stores as kind of our touchstones," said Kari Miskit with Visit Sacramento.

Other restaurants represented provided outdoor dining and to-go options when there weren't many dining options at all. This year, Chef Diaz is bucking from tradition when it comes to the menu.

"There will be a surprise whole food plant-based dish that we will be doing and serving for the first time at the Tower Bridge Dinner," he said.

The event, which leads into the Farm-to-Fork Festival, draws in over 100,000 people to the area. Organizers hope that this year the guest list is as diverse as the food in front of them.

"Our sponsors have the great opportunity this year to join Visit Sacramento in prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion, including who they invite to sit at their table," Miskit said.

"What I would love people to be able to do is take away what food is really about is the relationship of where it comes from understanding that source transparency is important," said Diaz.

Public ticket information will be announced at on July 15. All Farm-to-Fork events will return this September, including the Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall.

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