Home » Chef Adam Pechal and Feeding Crane cook up farm-to-fork fun
Farm to Fork

Chef Adam Pechal and Feeding Crane cook up farm-to-fork fun

A cooking class taught by a Sacramento chef with national television exposure, paired with wines and cheeses from Northern California artisans, barely hinted at the afternoon’s food and festivities.

Part cooking class and demonstration, part product-promoting dog and pony show, part wine-and-food pairing, and, frankly, part inadvertent live reality show featuring chef Adam Pechal bantering with his mother as she photographed the event, Saturday’s class at Lulu’s Commercial Kitchen in downtown Sacramento was two hours of farm-to-fork fun that easily could have stretched to three hours.

“We’re gonna kick your palate right in the teeth right off the bat,” Pechal, dressed in a green t-shirt and blue striped apron with his pony-tail pulled tight, announced to the intimate group of 15 people assembled in Lulu’s dining room, setting the tone for five fun-filled courses.

Following a trial run in March, the “class” was the kick-off of a monthly series, Chef Adam Pechal’s Northern California Favorites, featuring local farms and artisan producers. The events are scheduled to coincide with Sacramento’s Second Saturday Art Walk, which is centered just a few blocks away from the commercial kitchen that’s owned by Sacramento’s Feeding Crane Farms, the certified organic micro-farm that’s sponsoring Pechal’s food-and-beverages events over the next six months.

Last Saturday’s event starred Pechal, the personable showman and talented chef-owner of Sacramento’s Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en who recently competed on the ABC food show “The Taste.” In supporting roles were wines from Sean Minor of Napa and cheeses from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company of Willows – the latter a company that started inside Sacramento’s landmark Foothill Home Dairy in 1997 but moved north in 2003 when the operation grew.

Pechal didn’t only pair his food with Sean Minor wines — he used the winemaker’s varietals in his food, an approach called bridging.

That translucent gelee accompanying a charcuterie board featuring Sierra Nevada’s habanero Jack and three coppa salamis cured at Restaurant Thir13en? Made from the same sauvignon blanc that the winemaker poured – a crisp and fruity jiggle of white wine and gelatin that cut the heat of the spicy cheese and spicy meat.

That silky pinot noir paired with goat-cheese-and-mushroom crostini? A generous pour into a hot sauté pan added fruity depth to the beech, oyster and king trumpet mushrooms, cultivated locally by Dragon Gourmet Mushrooms.

Pechal demonstrated two appetizer courses, with class attendees crowded around the stove in the working kitchen, and everyone, including the chef, sipping Sean Minor wines –- approachable, delicious and all in the $20-a-bottle range. (Look for them in Sacramento at Selland’s Market-Cafe and at Whole Foods.)

Zucchini fritters, fortified with Sierra Nevada’s grassy raw sharp white cheddar, paired with Sean Minor’s lightly buttery chardonnay.

For the mushroom-goat-cheese crostini, Minor’s silky, fruity pinot noir balanced the tang of Sierra Nevada’s Bella Capra Chevre –- a first-place winner in last year’s American Cheese Society judging. (Look for Sierra Nevada cheeses at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Nugget Market and Whole Foods.)

Minor’s vin gris, a dry pink rose made from an early stage of Minor’s pinot, had the right watermelon and strawberry notes to complement Pechal’s dessert of whipped and lightly sweetened Bella Capra Chevre with sliced strawberries and toasted pine nuts.

Minor’s biggest wine, a cabernet sauvignon, stood up to a small version of Pechal’s hugely popular Capitol burger, with cabernet-cooked onions and Sierra Nevada’s smoked Bella Capra.

Sweating from the heat of the stove and the pace of the class, Pechal fielded questions on cooking techniques (don’t wash mushrooms because they soak up all moisture, avoid shredding zucchini down to the bitter seed pack) and dished on his appearance on the ABC cooking competition “The Taste.”

After Pechal brushed baguette slices with butter, olive oil and garlic and put them in the oven, Pechal’s mom, who was photographing the class, asked the questions Pechal’s audience wanted to ask.

“How long do you bake them and at what temperature?” she blurted.

“Can we make sure my mom’s not at the next class?” Pechal asked no one in particular.

That prompted sympathetic groans from the audience and a minute of banter between Pechal and his mom –- unexpected, unscripted and sounding very much like the chef and his mom had a reality TV routine in their future.

Chef Adam Pechal’s Northern California Favorites

Chef Adam Pechal’s Northern California Favorites will be held on the second Saturday of every month through October. Tickets cost $49 per person or $89 per couple (includes free parking) and may be purchased through Pechal’s Eventbrite web page. Please note that the lineup of classes is subject to change.

May 11
Oysters All Ways

With oysters from Drakes Bay Oyster Company (Point Reyes National Seashore) and champagne from Charbay Distillery & Winery (St. Helena).

June 8
Summer Grillin’

With Dinner Bell Farm (Grass Valley) and Knee Deep Brewing (Lincoln).

July 13
One Fish, Two Fish

With Passmore Ranch (Sloughhouse) and New Helvetia Brewing Co. (Sacramento).

August 10
Summer Garden Party @ Feeding Crane Farms

Featuring Feeding Crane Farms’ produce and Feeding Crane Farms’ summer punch recipes.
This class will take place at Feeding Crane Farms in Sacramento’s Natomas region. For an additional $20 per couple, transportation will be provided from Lulu’s Commercial Kitchen to Feeding Crane Farms.

September 14
Preserving Summer

With the artisans from Preservation and Co., a Sacramento start-up that pickles and preserves vegetables, and produce from Hanks Hens & All Things Good (Rio Linda), Dragon Gourmet Mushrooms (Sacramento) and other local farms.

October 12
Is It Fall Already?

With Hanks Hens & All Things Good (Rio Linda) and Scribner Bend Vineyards (Sacramento).


Chef Adam Pechal’s Zucchini-Cheddar Fritters
Makes approximately 40 bite-sized fritters

12 ounces zucchini (about 2 cups or 2-3 medium-sized vegetables), grated
6 ounces dry white cheddar cheese, grated
4 scallions thinly sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon thyme
1 clove garlic, microplaned 
Zest of 1 lemon, microplaned
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste 

Use the large holes of box grater to grate the zucchini. Grate the zucchini to within a quarter inch of the center seed pack and discard the remaining portion of the vegetable. Place the grated zucchini in a clean dish towel or linen napkin and squeeze out the majority of liquid. 

In a bowl, combine the zucchini with the remaining ingredients until the mixture resembles moist cookie dough. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Heat a griddle or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat and apply a thin coat of canola oil. When the oil starts to smoke, use two spoons to scoop up and deposit bite-sized portions of the zucchini mixture onto the hot griddle. Cook until the fritters start to brown and crisp, about 2 minutes, then flip and finish cooking. 

Remove cooked fritters and place them on a rack or a plate lined with a paper towel to cool. 

Serve with spicy serrano ranch dressing. 

Adam Pechal Spicy Serrano Ranch Dressing
Makes approximately 2 cups

1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream 
1 cup mayonnaise 
¼ cup buttermilk
1 serrano chili, minced (seeds optional)
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 tablespoon dill, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, microplaned
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Serve with zucchini-cheddar fritters. 


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