The 2019 Tower Bridge Dinner will feature a star-studded cast of women who have made their mark on the culinary scene led by Suzette Gresham of San Francisco’s Acquerello, who has held a two-star rating from Michelin since 2015. Joining her will be Sacramento chefs Allyson Harvie of Ella Dining Room and Bar, Casey Shideler of Taylor’s Kitchen, Molly Hawks of Hawks Restaurant, and Tokiko Sawada of Binchoyaki.
“We’re thrilled to have Chef Gresham and such a talented, local team leading this year’s dinner,” said Visit Sacramento President & CEO Mike Testa. “Together, the team offers a combination of skill, experience and diverse expertise that will result in what I believe to be one of our most exciting experiences to date.”
The annual Tower Bridge Dinner remains one of the hottest tickets in town as it heads into its seventh year, and it serves not only as a marquee event that showcases what Sacramento’s culinary community can produce, but it also serves as the major fundraiser for the free two-day street festival that leads up to it and welcomed more than 100,000 people in 2018.
Suzette Gresham became only the third American woman to be honored with two Michelin stars in 2015, and her work in San Francisco’s Acquerello has seen it land a spot in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurant List for the past 22 years. Ingredients are one of the central pillars in her kitchen, and she seeks to provide diners with an experience. Additionally, she has long focused on providing a workplace free of fear and intimidation, regardless of gender, and focuses on passing on her knowledge to the next generation, including passing 63 interns through her kitchen.
Allyson Harvie spent more than a decade honing her craft in San Francisco at restaurants including Absinthe, Ragazza and Salt House before coming to Sacramento and working as chef de cuisine at The Kitchen in 2017. She became chef de cuisine at Ella Dining Room and Bar in 2018 and continues to value her authentic relationships with farmers to bring quality seasonal meals to her restaurant. Ella Dining Room and Bar was one of 10 Sacramento restaurants honored with Michelin Plate awards in 2019.
Casey Shideler was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, and, knowing she wanted to cook professionally, went to culinary school in her home state, and moved to Sacramento five years ago. Working her way up in Sacramento’s culinary scene at restaurants such as Blackbird Kitchen and Bar, and Mulvaney’s Building & Loan, she took a keen interest in using farm-fresh ingredients. She became the Executive Chef at Taylor’s Kitchen in 2016, and in 2017 was one of the lead chefs for the Tower Bridge Dinner. In addition to cooking, Shideler is an avid runner and an outspoken leader in conversations around mental health challenges and women in restaurant kitchens.
Molly Hawks is the proprietress of Hawks Restaurant in Granite Bay and Hawks Provisions + Public House in Sacramento along with her husband, Michael Fagnoni. Hawks attended California Culinary Academy and worked at San Francisco’s LiveFire and The Village Pub. Hawks Restaurant opened in 2007 and has been a staple in the community since. Hawks Provisions + Public House opened in 2015 and focuses on quality seasonal fare with local ingredients.
Tokiko Sawada is a co-owner of Binchoyaki with more than 17 years in the culinary industry. Being surrounded at a young age by inspirational food during summers in Japan inspired her to pursue an education at le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. Upon graduating, she served as a sous chef in several restaurants in Southern California before opening an upscale bakery and restaurant le Pain Quotidien. Along with husband Craig Takehara, she opened Binchoyaki in 2016 in Sacramento, serving Japanese barbecue and soul food. Binchoyaki was another of the 10 Sacramento restaurants awarded a Michelin Plate in 2019.