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Sacramento's the Kitchen Combines Fine Dining With High-Wire Culinary Theater

Fine dining meets dinner theater, Friday at 6:30p.m.

Welcome to the photo series Eater Scenes, in which photographers visit some of the world's great restaurants to capture them at a certain, and very specific, point in the day. Here now, DL Cunningham at Sacramento's fine-dining hotspot the Kitchen.

For nearly 25 years — and long before the "open kitchen" became de rigueur — Sacramento's the Kitchen has been combining destination fine dining with a high-wire theater act. When the Kitchen debuted in 1991, founding chef/owner Randall Selland quickly became known for his commanding presence as "master of ceremonies" for the restaurant's lengthy dinners, filling the room with "ingredient presentations," jokes, and camaraderie.

Today, the menu is spearheaded by chef David Chavez, and the dinner-theater theme remains: The playbill is playfully separated into "Acts," many requiring audience participation. Upon opening, guests are told to "stroll" the kitchen and chat with chefs, Act I sees the presentation of the ingredients, and the fourth-course "Intermission" provides guests with multiple stage instructions: "Walk around. Visit and sample at chef stations. Enjoy our garden patio. Relax by the fire." Photographer DL Cunningham recently stepped into the Kitchen during a Friday-night dinner service, capturing the first few acts as they unfolded. Watch the chefs take center stage in the photo gallery above.

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