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Best Chefs Heating Up The Culinary Scene In Sacramento

While often in the shadows of neighboring culinary meccas like San Francisco and Napa Valley, Sacramento is home to a few celebrity chefs and some renowned, award-winning restaurants. With names like Guy Fieri, Biba Caggiano and Kurt Spataro owning restaurants in the city, Sacramento definitely is earning a stronghold in the culinary world. With ample farmers' markets and quality food producers within a short drive, Sacramento chefs have a wealth of top ingredients at their fingertips and they are creating some one-of-a-kind menu items. If you are wondering which chefs are heating up the culinary scene, keep an eye on these five Sacramento chefs and restaurateurs.
Adam Pechal
Adam Pechal (credit:

Adam Pechal
Tuli Bistro
2031 S St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 451-8854

While Chef Adam Pechal may not be a "true" television celebrity chef (he did last through three rounds of auditions for Bravo's "Top Chef" however), he's definitely worked with a number of top chefs in the country and is earning himself quite a following at his Tuli Bistro. He graduated top of his class from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has worked with renowned chefs like Christine Keff, Thomas Keller, Donna Scala and Kurt Spataro. Pechal's menu changes daily and may include specialties like gnocchi in brodo -- housemade ricotta dumplings with spicy pork meatballs, pea shoots and peas in a Grana Padano broth -- or Peruvian Ceviche -- quick-marinated Canadian albacore loin, sweet potato, red onion, white corn and pickled spring onions.

Related: Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants In Sacramento

Oliver Ridgeway
Oliver Ridgeway (credit:

Oliver Ridgeway
Grange Restaurant & Bar
926 J St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 492-4450

One of the newest chefs in town making headlines is Oliver Ridgeway. He took the helm of Grange Restaurant & Bar back in October 2011 and has earned high praise during his first year. Originally from Sussex, England, his background is quite impressive including a stint on the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship, two different Olympic Games and a host of award-winning restaurants in the United States. Ridgeway had big shoes to fill from exiting chef Michael Tuohy. Ridgeway has kept many of the founding chef's principles and routines in place, including a weekly visit to farmers' markets for ingredients, and on Wednesdays, he hosts tours of the market followed by a three-course lunch.

Patrick Mulvaney
Patrick Mulvaney (credit:

Patrick Mulvaney
Mulvaney's B&L
1215 19th St
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 441-6022

Chef Patrick Mulvaney has built himself a culinary gem with his Mulvaney's Building and Loan in Sacramento, earning him top praise as one of the best spots to eat in the country. While his cuisine is certainly top notch, Mulvaney has made an even bigger name for himself outside the restaurant walls. He is one of the biggest supporters of the local community and is often involved in various food events, functions, charity endeavors and even culinary political battles -- like the legislation designed to ban foie gras from California menus. While foie gras is certainly a debated topic, Mulvaney is quick to point out that advances since the legislation was proposed in 2004 help keep the ducks healthier, which includes raising them in cage-free environments with feeding methods that do not harm the esophagus. Located in an 1893 firehouse, Mulvaney's B&L is definitely worth a visit if you haven't been yet. And if you couldn't gather from the "pigasus" on the corner, pork is one of chef Mulvaney's most beloved ingredients. He is quite well-known for his annual St. Pat's pig roast that brings in crowds each year.

Clay Purcell

Clay Purcell
Tower Bridge Bistro
Embassy Suites Hotel
100 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 326-5050

If you haven't visited the Tower Bridge Bistro, you might be groaning at the thought of a hotel restaurant among the ranks here. However, throw out any preconceived notions of hotel restaurants you might have and stop by for lunch or dinner. You will find that many of the diners are actually locals and not hotel guests. Chef Purcell has done a magnificent job with this picturesque spot, featuring one of the best menus around. While his motto is to keep things simple when it comes to ingredients, his dishes offer a wealth of complexity in taste and texture. Menu items may include beef tenderloin risotto -- beef tips with sautéed mushrooms, thyme, Aborio rice and parmesan cheese -- or Sonoma duck breast -- seared duck breast with grilled Bosc pears and goat cheese. And for those who may be vegetarian or even vegan, there are options available as chef Purcell is adept at producing meat-free dishes, choosing to eat vegetarian or vegan himself several times a week.

Related: Best Tapas In The Sacramento Area

Edie Stewart dessert

Edie Stewart
The Waterboy
2000 Capitol Ave
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 498-9891

No roundup of great chefs would be complete without the sweet ending to a meal -- the often forgotten-about pastry chef. One of the best in Sacramento is longtime The Waterboy pastry chef, Edie Stewart. Stewart has worked with The Waterboy owner, Rick Mahan, for over 15 years, even back in the day at Americo's, predecessor to The Waterboy. Surprisingly, Stewart is self-taught, learning much of what she knows from on-the-job training. Her desserts are classic and simple, earning them high praise from local foodies. Her specialty is the fruit crostada and other decadent menu offerings include Valrhona chocolate mousse cake, buttermilk panna cotta and affogato.

Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs.  She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at

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