TBD Fest brings leading chefs to square off in The Pit

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TBD Fest, the three-day music and culture festival set for West Sacramento this October, is serving up news on the local food front as well.

Organizers today revealed plans for The Pit, a wood-fired cooking demonstration zone featuring 14 chefs from acclaimed regional eateries including Grange, Hawks, Hook & Ladder, Lucca, Mother and Paragary’s. The chefs from each restaurant will face off for what TBD Fest is calling “Friendly Fire,” in which their teams will have roughly three hours to prepare a dish for festival attendees, who will then vote for a winner.

“It’ll be the chefs’ version of the stage,” says Michael Tuohy, the kitchen mastermind at LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar (both co-owned by TBD Fest founders Michael Hargis and Clay Nutting). “We’ll get good chefs who do the right thing local-food wise, and they can take a turn using The Pit, and they can prepare a dish where they have to prepare at least 350 tastes of. They get to basically do a pop-up for that time.”

Tuohy explains that the “Friendly Fire” idea arose after the overwhelmingly positive response from chefs he approached to participate at The Pit. (The pairings have yet to be determined.) Its competition factor is intended to take a back seat to showcasing the chefs’ treatment of locally grown ingredients on a giant scale.

“We want each chef to have their turn at the festival doing something fun and cool,” Tuohy says. “That’s what it really is about. We asked, ‘How do we do this? What if we do two per slot? Sure, why not?’ And we kind of went with that. But as soon as they square off, I’m sure the sparks will fly.”

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Participating chefs include Tuohy, as well as:

Matt Brown (58 Degrees) 
Michael Fagnoni (Hawks)
Jason Kupper (Urban Heritage)
Ian MacBride (Lucca)
Jess Milbourn (Capital Dime)
Brian Mizner (Hook & Ladder)
∙ Oliver Ridgeway (Grange)
∙ Kurt Spataro (Paragary Group) 
Michael Thiemann and Matt Masera (Mother)
Jay Veregge and Dennis Sydnor (Ten22)
Noah Zonca (Zoncas LLC)

Other culinary elements at TBD Fest will include a fleet of food trucks (Tuohy’s preliminary estimate is around 20 trucks) and an “Artisan Pavilion,” where restaurants will have a chance to serve meals to be paired with locally developed craft beers and cocktails.

“We’re at a music festival,” Tuohy says, “so it’s going to be very accessible—food for the people.”

TBD Fest runs Oct. 3-5 at the River Walk in West Sacramento. For more information about the musical acts and other additions, visit the festival’s site at tbdfest.com.

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