Culinary event helps fund Italian educational trip


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Dance major Wendy Huang (left) grabs some cheese during Chocolate and Champagne event hosted by the culinary arts department in the Aqua Terra Grill on Oct. 8. The event is used to fund raise for students going to Italy.

By Dan Hardin, Advocate Staff

Sparkling wine, live music and delectable chocolates all at the same place and at the same time, sets the stage for the 7th annual Chocolate & Champagne event, set for Oct. 7.

The event, which is hosted by the culinary arts department, helps fund a trip for students to Italy as part of the department’s study abroad program, by raising monies for culinary arts scholarships.

“We plan to have many samplings of savory dishes that feature chocolate overtones, much like last year,” chef Nader Sharks said. “We haven’t completed our menu yet.”

Because the menu is subject to change he couldn’t say exactly what will be on it.

Sharkes did say the standards and quality of the cuisine for this year’s event would be unsurpassed by any previous years.

The 7th annual Chocolate & Champagne event will be held at the Aqua Terra Grill in SA-130, from noon until 3 p.m. on Oct. 7.

Culinary student Yanelli Vidauri said, “This is a fundraising event that allows culinary students to travel to Italy and experience fine dining at its best.”

Music department Chairperson Wayne Organ said that CCC’s own award-winning jazz ensemble, Jazz-ology, will perform at the event.

The six-member ensemble will take center stage and help to set the tone and mood for the charitable and festive occasion.

Performance Program Director Stephanie Austin said, “I love music because it brings people together.”

This is not Dr. Austin and Jazz-ology’s first time at the C & C event in the short amount of time that this event has existed.

Dr. Austin said, “We have performed two other times for this event at the old Three Seasons Restaurant. But this will be a first for the Aqua Terra Grill.”

She said that they had performed in the courtyard outside of the Three Seasons, near the Culinary Garden but she’s not sure where the group will set up in the Aqua Terra Grill.

The restaurant is located the college’s new amphitheater that is somewhat reminiscent of the old college amphitheater, which was much larger in size.

Dr. Austin said, “The Jazz-ology ensemble will perform for a total of two hours out of the three hours scheduled for the event.”

Attendees who plan to come late may want to reconsider, she said.

“The ensemble will perform from noon until 2 p.m.,” Austin said.

“Jazz-ology will perform songs from their latest CD, ‘Get Out of Town,’ and we will be accompanied by a professional rhythm section,” she said. The CDs can be purchased for $15 at the event.

Adrianne Sims, who works for the custodian department at Contra Costa College, said, “The Chocolate & Champagne event is very good for the college, and the community.”

She also complimented Sharks on his quest for culinary excellence.

Second-year culinary arts student David Vidrine said, “I am really looking forward to this year’s event and participating anywhere I am needed. In the past I have assisted vendors with parking and coordinating with set up.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance by accessing, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 510-215-3878. Advanced tickets can be purchased for $25 at the Aqua Terra Grill.

Tickets can also be purchased at the event for $30.