Third Annual Fundraising Event Benefits Programs for At-Risk Youth

Over 300 guests, celebrity judges and leading local chefs filled the Grand Ballroom of the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort last Friday to vote for their favorite dish and support programs for at-risk youth in Santa Barbara County. The sold-out event raised a record $140,000, which will help provide services to those on waiting lists for school-based counseling, Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring and youth behavioral counseling.

“We are humbled and energized by the support from our community,” said Executive Director Lisa Brabo. “This event is not just an important fundraiser for us, it’s a great way to connect with our supporters. We share a common passion for helping families create paths for life success.”

Celebrity judges and 300 guests sampled expertly prepared dishes from leading local chefs and voted for their favorite dish.  The Judges’ Choice award went to Peter McNee of Convivo for his Pesce Crudo–ahi and avocado on a squid ink cracker. Owner Adam White accepted the People’s Choice award for Santa Barbara FisHouse for the Prawnton appetizer. Awards were presented by event co-chairs Meredith Garofalo and Emily Nordee.

Local eateries competing at the event included Barbareno, Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, Casa Blanca, Chef Michael Hutchings, Convivo, Finch & Fork, First & Oak at the Mirabelle Inn, Les Merchands Wine Bar, Nimita’s Cuisine, Oveja Blanca/Black Sheep, Patxi’s Pizza, Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria, Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro, and Santa Barbara FisHouse.

Celebrities helping out with the judging included Joey Buttitta, Anchor, KEYT; John Dickson, Food Critic, Santa Barbara Independent; Krista Harris, Editor, Edible Santa Barbara; Jen Jasinski, owner, Rioja (Denver) and Max Mackissock, owner, Bar Dough (Denver).

Emcee Andrew Firestone helped raise over $50,000 in the live auction and call for support. Guests also enjoyed lively music from DJ Scott Topper and a digital photo booth provided by RUMOR Photo Media.

This year, the event was presented by Union Bank. Gold Sponsors were Les & Zora Charles and the Penny Sheehan Foundation. Silver Sponsors included  John & Jill Bishop, Michael & Marni Cooney, Jim & Shirley Ann Hurley, Bob & Susan Manning, Montecito Bank & Trust, Maryan Schall, RUMOR Photo Media, Jeff Slay of Woodruff-Sawyer FKA Neovia, and SMI Concepts. Bronze Sponsors were Abbey’s Carpet City & Flooring, Bergquist Wang LLC, Tim & Ginny Bliss, Hugh & Kelly Boss, Bunnin Chevrolet Cadillac, Liz & Andrew Butcher, Coast Village Chevron Wine & Grotto, Felici Events, Foundation for Santa Barbara City College, Ghita Ginberg, Michael Hardwick, Jim & Chana Jackson, Jim & Mary Morouse, Price Postel & Parma LLC, Sybil Rosen, David L. Smith, Fred & Jane Sweeney, Jon & Elen Vanderhoof  and Stephanie Wilson & Dr. Ron Ungerer. Wine was sponsored by Grassini and Santa Barbara Wineries. VIP Sponsors were Katya Armistead & Tim Pritchard, Collette & Jeff Becker, Lisa Brabo, Richard Ellis & Judith Nishimori, Kohanya & Scott Groff, Jeanne & David Hoffman, Richard & Andrea Hutton, Bob & Margie Neihaus, Kathy O’Leary and Dr. Robert Reid.

Proceeds from Cooking Up Dreams support Family Service Agency’s youth enrichment programs including Big Brothers Big Sisters, school-based counseling, and youth behavioral health—all programs targeting low-income at-risk youth who, with the help of counseling and mentors, are able to improve their personal growth and academic experience.