Get a Taste of UC Davis at State Fair

Bin of tomatoes
Freshly harvested tomatoes from Russell Ranch, arriving at the Segundo Culinary Center. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Quick Summary

  • 2 kitchen demos by Dining Services chefs, making pasta sauce
  • Made with tomatoes from Russell Ranch, basil from Student Farm
  • Other UC Davis experts will lead coffee, honey and beer classes

UC Davis chefs will present cooking demonstrations while other university food experts will lead coffee, honey and beer classes in California’s Kitchen at the state fair, which opens this week and runs through the end of the month.

On the first and last days of their fair, Friday, July 15, and Sunday, July 31, Bob Walden, executive chef, and Kue Her, senior executive chef, will prepare Dining Services’ tried-and-true recipe for pasta sauce, using tomatoes from UC Davis’ Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility and basil from the Student Farm.

Chef stands next to vat of tomatoes, being cooked
Chef Bob explains to visitors how the Segundo Culinary Center processes tomatoes in bulk, to make sauce, in this photo from 2014. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

In each of their state fair demonstrations, Walden and Her will make a half-gallon of sauce — considerably less than what the chefs and their Dining Services team normally make. For the coming year, they plan to make two giant batches: 960 gallons in August and 1,160 gallons in December, to be frozen for use as needed. Watch video: “Making Sauce for Student Pasta.”

Recipe cards for the half-gallon batch will be available for people attending the demonstrations. The audience also will be treated to samples of the sauce on sliced baguette.

“We’ve heard our sauce described as rustic, zesty, flavorful, intense, inspired, garlicky, bold,” chef Walden said.

Farm to fork

“We’re happy to show off what we do in the kitchen,” Walden said. “Plus, fairgoers will get to see and taste the UC Davis farm-to-fork experience, part of our commitment to sustainability in food operations.”

Walden said Dining Services expects to take in some 29,000 pounds of tomatoes from Russell Ranch this year, and will use 15,115 pounds for pasta sauce, 12,100 pounds for roasted salsa and 1,107 pounds for roasted tomato soup (320 gallons).

The demonstrations, each starting at 11 a.m., are free with fair admission. The venue is the Cooking Theatre in Building B.

Man bags tomato sauce in bulk processing
Arnulfo Herrera fills plastic bags with tomato sauce for freezing. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Coffee, honey and beer

The UC Davis-led coffee, honey and beer classes will be in the Taste of California Classroom, also in Building B. Tickets ($5 or $10) are required, in addition to fair admission.

See At a Glance below for more information about the fair: location, directions, dates and hours, and ticket prices for the fair and classes. (The UC Davis cooking demonstrations are free.)

Coffee Tasting

Tonya Kuhl headshot
Tonya Kuhl

“Coffee 101: A UC Davis Coffee Center Taste Experience,” led by Tonya Kuhl, professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, and co-director, UC Davis Coffee Center. This program for the state fair comprises portions of the popular chemical engineering class ECH 1: “The Design of Coffee.” Learn more about coffee to get the most out of your coffee brewing and drinking experience. Do a head-to-head taste comparison of different coffees, taste some really unusual coffees, see and smell green coffee, and get answers to any questions you might have about this wonderful beverage that starts your day. Four sessions of this class are scheduled for Friday, July 15. Click on any of the class times below to buy tickets. $5.

Honey Tasting

Amina Harris headshot
Amina Harris

Honey isn’t just sweet anymore! Delve into the world of varietal honey with Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and architect of the UC Davis Honey Wheel. While describing the process of how honey is made — from nectar to beehive and onto your table, Amina will guide you through a tasting experience featuring four very unique honeys. Look for the ticket links here when available. $10.

  • Sunday, July 17 — 4 p.m.
  • Friday, July 29 — 4 p.m.

‘Beer: Science in a Glass’

Jonathan Hughes headshot
Jonathan Hughes

Led by Jonathan Hughes, director of brewing and sensory science at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, where he also teaches microbiology in the Master Brewers Certificate Program. People have been brewing beer for more than 11,000 years, during which time we have learned a lot about every step of the process, from growing and malting barley, to fermentation and yeast biochemistry, to how to make a product shelf-stable for months. This class will include a broad overview of the science behind brewing and fermentation and look at some of the modern practices in the brewing industry, plus an opportunity to taste malt and smell hops. Click on the date and time below to buy tickets. $10.

Related event the same day: Best of California Brewfest.


  • WHAT: California State Fair and Food Festival
  • WHERE: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento
  • WHEN: Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 31
    • Monday through Thursday — 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
    • Friday through Sunday — 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
    • No admission after 8 p.m.
    • Hours in detail
    • In advance, available at Cal Expo and online Adults, $12; seniors 62 and up, $10; and youths 5-12, $8
    • July 15 or later — Add $2
    • Ages 4 and under — Free
    • Ages 12 and under free on Tuesdays
    • Seniors $10 on Fridays
    • All ticket prices and packages
    • For each class, tickets are available online until midnight the day before. After that, tickets can be purchased at the classroom in Building B.
    • The UC Davis cookig demonstrations are free.
  • PARKING: $15

See the events calendar, including olive oil, wine and tea tastings, and a free showing of the doumentary The Sweet History of California Strawberries.


Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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