By Matthew Craggs
Bringing together California’s newest agricultural innovations, skilled professionals and home chefs, and great food from various cultures and regions, the Fair is Northern California’s biggest and best food festival.
Sacramento’s reputation as America’s Farm-to-Fork capital is reflected in the Save Mart Supermarket’s California’s Kitchen and The Kaiser Permanente Farm presented by Save Mart Supermarkets — an on-site, 3.5-acre farm that supplies produce to many of the Fair’s cooking demos during the Fair, and to the Sacramento Food Bank at other times throughout the year.
“We placed California’s Kitchen so that right outside the back door is The Farm,” Michael Marks says. “We need fresh basil? Let’s cut a few sprigs.”
Better known as television’s Your Produce Man, Marks emcees the Fair’s cooking events, which will feature some of the state’s best chefs — including California State Fair Offi cial Chef Keith Breedlove.
At The Grill in The Kaiser Permanente Farm presented by Save Mart Supermarkets, Breedlove feeds and educates fairgoers by connecting them to the food he serves.
“I love talking about The Farm,” says Breedlove, who also owns and operates Sacramento’s Cülinerdy Crüzer food truck. “Getting really deep into tomatoes, how they grow, the different varieties. Really helping people understand where our food comes from.”
For California’s best chefs, and the judges who oversee the Fair’s live cooking challenges and amateur and commercial competitions, this farm-to-fork knowledge is another unique tool in their arsenal. Marks believes that by watching and asking questions, fairgoers can learn to wield this tool and many others.
However, perhaps the best way to expand your culinary knowledge is through taste. Start by sampling exemplary California products at tasting stations throughout California’s Kitchen. One day you may find an award-winning cheese; the next, fresh avocados from a family farm.
Outside, hunt down your favorite Fair food — corn dogs, cinnamon rolls, turkey legs — using the California State Fair app. Then find new favorites, like ceviche, pizza salad, steamed artichokes, from more than 80 food vendors. All of the food vendors offer $2 tastes (Wednesdays and Thursdays, open–4 p.m.).
“The California State Fair is so diverse in what it features, but it’s all focused on California style,” Breedlove says.
A wealth of mouth-watering foods paired with enlightening information and innovation, that’s how California does a food festival.
Whether the Fair feeds your mind or body — or a healthy portion of both — there’s one thing Marks never tires of hearing from fairgoers.
“Wow, I had no idea that could taste so good.”
Eat up, California.