Fresh ingredients, local businesses and tasty foods. You know what that means: Farm-to-Fork Week is upon us! Farmers, ranchers, small business owners and foodies from around Northern California will be gathering in the Farm-to-Fork capital of America.

When: Friday, Sept. 27 from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento

UC Davis Health's Executive Chef Santana Diaz and his team have been working hard preparing for the big events around the state Capitol in Sacramento. As evident by this blog and the great work the Food and Nutrition Services team is doing at UC Davis Health, this week is an opportune time to showcase how eating right can taste good and keep you healthy.

Ahead of the festival, Chef Santana talks about what his team is doing for the event:

What are you and your staff responsible for during Farm-to-Fork Week?

Chef Santana: Our staff prepared an appetizer for the Legends of Wine event that was held the week before the festival on the steps of the State Capitol. About 850 people attended this event ahead of the official Farm-to-Fork Week. During the Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall, our Executive Sous Chef Jet Aguirre is hosting a demonstration on the UC Davis Health stage. In addition, our team helped create the menu for the Tower Bridge Dinner on Sunday night and will make an appetizer for the dinner (which we’ll discuss in just a bit). We’ve been planning for a couple of months, so we're excited to show off all the hard work of the entire team.

Why is it so important for UC Davis Health to be a part of this event?

Chef Santana: Good Food is Good Medicine. Connecting with our community in this effort to truly help educate everyone is the goal. Proactive measures with respect to eating clean and healthy foods are the true solution to a healthy lifestyle. We want people to know that healthy food can taste great as well.

Your team participated in this event last year, so what’s changing this year?

Chef Santana: Guests of the event really enjoyed the whole food, plant-based option that we provided last year for the Tower Bridge Dinner appetizer. It resonated with the Good Food is Good Medicine message, so we decided to keep that going this year! Our awesome Food and Nutrition Services culinary staff have created another clean and healthy whole food, plant-based “bite”: Fennel Pollen Seared Figs / Apple Crisp. This appetizer will not use any ingredients with gluten and will be vegan.

I personally am mostly involved with logistics this year, creating staffing plans and prep logistics. I’m also working with Chef Suzette Gresham and supporting the lead chefs so the Tower Bridge Dinner is a successful experience for all attendees.

How did your team come up with the food that's being served at the Tower Bridge Dinner?

Chef Santana: The dinner menu was written and created by the lead chefs. Our team collaborated and came up with the bite for the Tower Bridge Dinner in about 10 minutes. We simply looked at what’s seasonal and thought the food could speak for itself. We are excited to see the reaction from the Tower Bridge guests again when they hear that these are the flavor profiles we are continuing to move towards in our healthcare facility.

Chefs preparing the appetizer at the 2018 Tower-Bridge-DinnerUC Davis Health chefs preparing the appetizer at the 2018 Tower Bridge Dinner

Where are the ingredients sourced from for the appetizer?

Chef Santana: The apples are sourced from Apple Hill in El Dorado County; the wild local fennel pollen is from Plymouth in Amador County; and the Del Rio botanicals figs are out of West Sacramento.

Learn more about how UC Davis Health is a leader in the farm-to-fork movement: