Culinary department hosts Food and Wine, raises $30,000

Outside venue excites huge crowd, brings profit

Attune Wine representative Jason Campbell (left) pours Richmond resident Barry Grant a glass of 2015 chardonnay during the Food and Wine Event in the Campus Center Plaza on Sunday.

By Dylan Collier, Assistant Scene Editor

The college hosted its 10th annual Food and Wine Event on Sunday, outside in the Campus Center Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The yearly event is held to fund a study abroad trip to Italy for 10 students from the culinary arts department.

Approximately $30,000 from ticket sales and auctions were raised this year.

Culinary arts instructional assistant Angel Chau said that when the managing staff adds in the money from donations, sponsors and pre-sales tickets that figure will nearly double to near $60,000.

For the past nine years, the event was held in the Gymnasium, but this year holding it outside seemed to make sense for everyone.

The food and wine vendors lined the sidewalk with the sun blazing down and musical tunes resonating throughout the air outside the Student Dining Hall.

The culinary arts department made it elegant by placing a red carpet that ran from the first wine vendor by the entrance, to the tables and music area outside  of the cafeteria.

“I think the event has evolved so much this year by holding it outdoors and got us out of being enclosed in the Gym. This way, we were able to show people about our little oasis in the dessert,” previous recipient of the Italy scholarship and former culinary arts student Joe Quario said.

Chau said that she was pleased with the number of people who showed up, setting the total number at approximately 1,000.

Chef Elisabeth Schwarz said what she liked most about the event was seeing people have fun and enjoy good food.

Schwarz said she takes great pride in teaching students how to achieve that.

Attendee Matt Metcho said, “I have come to this event every year for the past five years and I like that it’s outside because it really adds to the ambiance.”

“It’s also cool that you can go from building to building and it provides a lot more room this way,”  he said.

In the Fireside Hall a silent raffle was held, as was a cake raffle as many food vendors from local areas showed off their dishes.

Rodeo-based restaurant El Sol, a family-run business run by Armando and Josephine Orozco, was there promoting its catering services. The Orozcos said they pride themselves on using their own family recipes from Mexico.

The chefs of Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen traveled from their main restaurant located on Shattuck and Kittredge in Berkeley. They came to introduce the public to the joys of Cajun and Creole food and to support their local culinary community.

The cake raffle was the main contribution from the pastry chefs in the culinary arts department. The advanced baking students designed many decadent cakes, including one that consisted of white chocolate on the inside with alternating layers of chocolate mousse and salted caramel buttercream with Kahlua buttercream on the outside.

Entry into the raffle was $5 per person and announcements of the winners were made every half hour. 

Many former students of culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes attended the event to represent their restaurants, showing that their hard work under Sharkes paid off.

The owner of Lemon Tree Catering Company, Cecilia Romero-Chavez, said she always knew she wanted to start her own business in the culinary world, so she decided to take culinary classes at Contra Costa College.

“Two years ago, I planned this event and in 2013 I was a recipient of the Italy scholarship award. What I learned here is teamwork, respect and love of food,” Romero-Chavez said.

She said nothing has changed since she left and that Sharkes does what he can and that he’s an advocate for the department.

Romero-Chavez said Sharkes is so knowledgeable and that she always goes to Sharkes if she needs a second opinion pertaining to something in her own catering business.

“There were approximately 19 wineries and 30 different food vendors represented and we were pleased with the venue,” Sharkes said.

First year culinary arts student Daphne Ponce said, “I learned how to deal with large crowds and how to cater a big event. There were more people than I thought were going to be here.”

Toward the end of the day, many items were auctioned to the highest bidder, such as a Cleveland Browns autographed football from 1961 for $150 and a chef’s outfit for $200.

The festivities ended with Sharkes announcing the 10 winners who get to go to Italy this summer as part of the Study Abroad Program.