As a leader in Sacramento’s drive to be “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” Oliver Ridgeway knows where to find foodie treasures.
The British-born chef started cooking in his father’s restaurant in Sussex. After attending cooking school, his career took off at a meteoric rate—the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, the 2000 Olympics, and New York’s Carlyle Restaurant are just a few of the places he’s showcased his culinary gifts. In Sacramento, he started at Grange Restaurant & Bar—in the Citizen Hotel—in 2011, where, as executive chef, he was able to focus on what he loves: California’s abundance of seafood and vegetables.
As successful as his time there was, it was in late 2018 that he achieved a major career milestone with the opening of his first venture: the highly anticipated Camden Spit & Larder. Located in downtown Sacramento’s Capitol Mall, the gorgeous 4,000-square-foot eatery is reminiscent of a swanky London pub, with pressed tin ceilings, Windsor chairs, and an overall between-the-wars vibe set off by ultra-modern touches. The menu draws deliciously from Ridgeway’s British roots as well, focusing on spit-roasted meats and such classic dishes as salt cod fritters and prime rib of beef with fermented horseradish. The execution, however, is pure California farm-to-fork—ingredients are sourced locally from such Northern California purveyors as Capay Organic, Del Rio Botanical, and Passamore Ranch.
We asked Ridgeway where he likes to eat when he goes out, and about some other favorite places in the city he now calls home.
“People think vegetarian food is boring. Not at Mother. You won’t miss meat.”
“Sacramento is like a Disneyland for craft-beer lovers, and Track 7 created all the buzz. They’ve got a fun, experimental approach to making beer—their IPA took the city by storm—plus it’s got food trucks and great areas for kids.”
“Chef Patrick Mulvaney takes a rustic-but-elevated approach to farmhouse cuisine, using honest ingredients that are sourced locally—fresh pasta, hand-pulled mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes. At Mulvaney’s B&L, you definitely feel like you’re in someone’s living room.”
“This farm’s urban-ag programs are creating farmers for tomorrow. What you see at Soil Born Farms depends on the season. In spring, there are lambs and baby pigs; autumn brings special events with small bites and live music.”
“This is a really nice celebration on the Capitol Mall, a good opportunity to experience local restaurants’ food and see what farmers are doing. Even better, it's free!”