Chef Derek Sawyer's love for the culinary arts began with his family. As a young boy, he often helped his Grandma Epi and his Aunties in the kitchen. He warmly recognizes that the traditions of trips to farmers markets, making handmade sopapillas and sharing laughter, are what drove him to become a chef.
Derek grew up in Sacramento but moved to New Mexico at the age of 17. He took a busser position at the St. Francis Hotel Restaurant, which focused on French influenced New Mexican cuisine. Derek worked under executive Chef Estevan Gracias for a few years, but he desired more.
In 2012, Derek moved back to Sacramento and began working at Dominick’s Restaurant & Deli in Granite Bay. He realized quickly that he was more interested in the process of how the food was being prepared than he was of serving it. Derek learned as much as he could, and eventually was running the deli himself.
Forever curious and driven to learn, Derek applied for a position as a line cook at Hawks in Granite Bay in 2015. Chef Mike Fagnoni and Chef Ed Lopez have been mentors and highly influential in Derek’s career and life. He was quickly promoted to Sous Chef in 2018.
In 2019, Derek earned the title of Chef de Cuisine at their sister restaurant, Hawks Provisions + Public House in East Sacramento. This is where Derek’s food love language exploded. PASTA, PASTA, PASTA! Derek was making it all, extruded in-house and handmade. He also worked directly and closely with local farmers, bringing in seasonal and fresh ingredients to create beautiful picture-worthy food in a small gastro pub. Derek’s passion for Italian cuisine bloomed there, and was showcased at Hawks Public House in 2022 when they were added to the Michelin Guide.
Derek is truly a multi-faceted talent; a skilled chef, an amateur photographer, a tattoo artist, and a devoted husband. He joins Allora’s culinary team in February 2023 as Chef de Cuisine. We are thrilled to have him on our team!