Executive Chef Satana Diaz in front of the Tower Bridge
Executive Chef Santana Diaz looks forward to the chance to lead a stellar team of Sacramento chefs at Sacramento's Tower Bridge Dinner on Sunday.

After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival is returning, much to the delight of the region’s foodies and culinary experts. And for the first time ever, a hospital chef is highlighted to lead the week’s much sought-after dinner.

UC Davis Health’s Executive Chef Santana Diaz will lead a group of top Sacramento chefs to coordinate the locally crafted Tower Bridge Dinner, which benefits the festival and funds Sacramento State scholarships for CAMP students, who are children of migrant farmworkers.

“It’s such an honor to be part of the Tower Bridge Dinner,” said Diaz. “I’m proud to represent UC Davis Health and help create a menu that will help show the community that good food can be good for our health, too.”

Diaz has led the charge in changing hospital food by tapping into Northern California’s resources of locally grown foods. He and his team believe that food is medicine and can help in the healing of not just patients, but the community as a whole.

In 2018 and 2019, Diaz and the UC Davis Health Food and Nutrition Services team were chosen to serve appetizers at the Tower Bridge Dinner. The appetizers included apples from Larsen Apple Barn at Apple Hill, figs from Windmill Farm in the Butte County town of Gridley, micro beets, candied oranges and fennel pollen.

For this year's Tower Bridge Dinner, the culinary team features distinguished chefs who were selected for the 2020 dinner which was canceled due to the pandemic. In addition to Diaz, they include chefs from Nixtaco Mexican Kitchen, Raley’s grocery stores, Grange Restaurant and Bar, Track 7 Brewing Company and Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine.

Together, they will prepare more than 800 dinners for guests who will dine on Sacramento’s iconic Tower Bridge.

“We feature our region throughout every course of this dinner. Whether it’s our Latin-inspired dish, our Asian-inspired course, or simply showcasing the bounty of produce available to us in a salad,” Diaz said. “We’re sourcing much of the food for the dinner from just miles from our hospital and that benefits the farmers and ranchers of our town.”

For the first time this year, the five-course dinner will include a surprise whole food plant-based dish.

“What we’re looking at is trying to make sure people can really understand that good food doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy,” Diaz said. “And then we’re looking at the sourcing and the great talents of our chefs in this area. It’s going to be great.”

Diaz is excited for the chance to increase awareness about UC Davis Health’s focus on healthy and sustainable foods and hopes that this dinner will act as another educational platform to communicate this important community message.

“Our focus on good food can be summed up as a real commitment to promote better health through food choices,” said Diaz. “We’re doing this as a health system, and it’s our vision to influence at an individual – and family – level, so that we all can enjoy better health.”

The weekend following the Tower Bridge Dinner is the Farm-to-Fork Street Festival on Sept. 17 and 18 on Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento. UC Davis Health’s Executive Sous Chef Jet Aguirre will be hosting a cooking demonstration at the festival. Also, stop by the UC Davis Health table on Capitol Mall for a free goody.

Check out other events happening at the Farm-to-Fork Festival

In the News:

Tower Bridge Dinner Chefs An Example Of Resilience We’ve Come To Know Amid Pandemic (GoodDay Sacramento)

Chefs showcase Tower Bridge Dinner menu (Fox40 News)

Visit Sacramento Announces Tower Bridge Dinner Chef Team (Visit Sacramento)