While it’s not surprising that chefs switch restaurants often, sometimes a move is a bit of a shakeup. Such was the case in Sacramento this week, as chef Matt Masera (Mother) abruptly departed Saddle Rock for Hook & Ladder.
Masera helped to launch Saddle Rock when it opened last July, garnering immediate positive reviews of his creative take on Gold Rush era dishes like hot cakes and beef wellington. His departure is considered amicable, though both chef and Owner Chris Jarosz cite their differences in direction as the impetus for the move.
Previously, Masera worked as the corporate pastry chef and chef de cuisine at Tyler Florence’s flagship restaurant, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. Eventually he returned to Sacramento to help in opening the acclaimed vegetarian restaurant Mother as well as the meat-centric Empress the following year.
At Hook & Ladder, Masera says he is not interested in an immediate overhaul of the menu. Instead, he wants to pare it down slightly, and plans to add daily specials to see what dish work well with diners. However, he does plan to put his own spin on the restaurant’s rustic, urban Italian dishes, including the wood fired pizzas. With the understanding that Sacramento is more of a comfort food town, Masera looks to use his creative flair on familiar items, like with the very popular and addictive chicken skin biscuits he served at Saddle Rock.
Over the years, Masera has developed a fan base that has followed him from Mother and Empress to Saddle Rock; they will surely be following him to Hook & Ladder as well.