Derek Sawyer grew up in Sacramento but at age seventeen he sought adventure and moved to New Mexico! Derek started working at the restaurant in the St. Francis Hotel as a busser under executive Chef Estevan Gracias. Derek worked and watched as Chef Estevan was busy creating New Mexican dishes with a French influence. After four years, Derek moved back to Sacramento. Bit by the restaurant bug, Derek started working as a server and bartender at Dominick’s Restaurant and Deli in Granite Bay. Ever curious and always watching, Derek realized he actually enjoyed the process of where and how the food was being prepared more than actually serving it. After about six months Derek took a chance and asked for a shot in the kitchen. Dominick’s offered him a starter position at the New York Style Deli next-door to the main restaurant. For six months Derek dazzled in the deli but he still craved more. He asked to move up to the kitchen so he could learn how to make the house-made pastas, sauces and cured meats, and he was promoted. Derek worked in the Dominick’s kitchen for the next four years.
Derek has found his experiences as a boy with his Grandma Epi and Aunties influenced his cooking style. He has fond memories of going to the market with Grandma Epi to pick fresh local ingredients and also of making handmade sopapillas in the kitchen alongside all his Aunties! His New Mexican side of the family plays a huge role in his food style and flare, especially with his chosen ingredients and flavors, all the while with an Italian influence.
Derek earned a position as a line cook at Hawks in Granite Bay in 2015. Two huge influences in Derek’s path are Chef Mike Fagnoni and Chef Ed Lopez. Chef Mike furthered Derek’s passion for pasta, teaching him new fun shapes and fine tuning his skills. Additionally, Derek utilizes the calm, patient, and understanding mentoring methods of Chef Mike to train and grow his chefs. Chef Ed quickly became a role model sharing similar styles in how they create and prepare dishes. Derek learned the Hawks’ dance from Chef Mike and Chef Ed and was promoted to Sous Chef at Hawks in 2018.
During Derek’s time at Hawks in Granite Bay, Chef Mike Fagnoni and Molly Hawks opened their sister restaurant, Hawks Provisions + Public House in Sacramento. After celebrating it’s fourth birthday, Hawks Public House had a need for a new, enthusiastic Chef de Cuisine and there was no better choice than Derek Sawyer. He has hit the ground running, bringing his many experiences to life with an updated menu and unique additions!