the kitchen…a dining experience

take a look at the mis en place (prepared cooking materials) all ready to go!

in a not-so-modest five year anniversary celebration, peter and i decided to venture out to the wonderful city of sacramento for an adventurous dining experience. my friends jess and stig had mentioned a restaurant called, the kitchen, saying it was a unique dining experience that i should definitely try considering the topic of my thesis. to be honest, i just wanted any excuse to try the food and to see what they had been talking about.

so glad that we did.

upon arriving at the kitchen, we were greeted with smiles and led to a table for two overlooking the kitchen “stadium”. the entire night the chefs cooked right in front of us all, welcomed us back behind the stoves, welcomed us into the kitchen and invited us to do as we pleased. we could be as involved or uninvolved as we wished. of course, i immediately changed from my high heels into my oh-so fashionable rainbow sandals, and walked straight back to the kitchen with camera in hand. i had a chance to watch the prep, ask the chefs some questions and see behind the curtain.

interns from le cordon bleu's culinary program prepping for the meal

noah, the chef de cuisine introduced himself and we chatted a bit in the back of the kitchen. we exchanged contact information after telling him a bit about my thesis. he told us about the hierarchy in the kitchen and that they bring in interns from le cordon bleu to offer hands off education in a real, fast-paced kitchen. what an intimidating way to work, but such a great way to get comfortable with the kitchen and instead of cooking for a mass of people, getting to know the people you’re cooking for and making it an extensive, interactive, integrated cooking experience.

chef noah cooking off some alcohol for the dessert course

next came the energetic owner, randall selland. again, i shared with him about my thesis, asked him how he came up with the idea of an open kitchen, and how he got into cooking (no formal training). wine was served and then the meal began. six courses later, peter and i were stuffed to the brim with delicious, local food. summer corn soup with black truffle and lobster, petrale sole caught right outside the golden gate bridge, local farmers produce bought at the farmer’s market that day, responsible farming and animal practices.

not only did i enjoy a fabulous meal, but i made some wonderful connections for my thesis. i love meeting people who love food, are passionate about what they do and are willing to share their experience with others. noah, randall, ryan and the others at the kitchen made our five year anniversary over the top. seeing the meal (literally) from start to finish and being invited to be involved, ask questions, take pictures, help if we wanted and to have a new experience at a restaurant inspired me. i loved the concept and wish there were more places like this, getting people involved and interested in the process rather than shoving people in, feeding them as quickly as possibly and sending them out the door to get the next round of guests in.

cooking and dining should be an experience, not just a chore. cooking is fun and there is a process behind everything, stories and memories to back up favorite dishes (both successes and failures). i learned that you have to just get in there and do it to be successful. being bashful isn’t going to get you anywhere. i was proud of myself for taking initiative and making things happen. i look forward to connecting with the chefs and following up with them after this glorious meal.

chef noah explaining the mis en place and process to peter

and just to finish up, had to show peter talking with chef noah behind the stove. such a unique cooking and dining experience!




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