Due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, Family Service Agency (FSA) is pivoting its annual Cooking Up Dreams event, to a fundraiser and drawing. The popular foodie event that traditionally wows guests with a cooking competition and tasting experience will transition to a drawing for gift certificates to local restaurants and wineries that have previously supported the event. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit mental health counseling and family support services for at-risk children, families and seniors provided by FSA, Santa Maria Valley Youth & Family Center, and Guadalupe’s Little House By The Park.

“Last year’s Cooking Up Dreams event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Even though we can’t meet in person, we still need to raise critical funds for mental health counseling and family support services,” said Executive Director, Lisa Brabo. “In 2021, FSA, SMVYFC, and LHP experienced an increase in services by 20%. There are a lot of families and seniors that still need our help.”

This year, a portion of the sponsorship funds will be used to purchase gift certificates to 50 restaurants and wineries around the county. In lieu of attending an event, participants are being asked to donate the typical cost of a ticket ($125 and up) to the organization. In return, they will be entered into a raffle to win $50, $75, and $100 gift certificates to establishments in the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, or Lompoc areas AND receive a recipe booklet containing delectable dishes from local chefs.

“In past years, restaurants have been generous in supporting our fundraiser by bringing their best dishes to our cooking competition. Knowing the toll the pandemic has taken on the hospitality industry, we hope to give back to these businesses, in a small way, and acknowledge the key role they play in our community,” said Brabo.

Presenting sponsors of this year’s Cooking Up Dreams are Marni and Michael Cooney and Tania and John Burke. Additional sponsors include Union Bank (Chef Sponsor); John and Jill Bishop, Timothy and Virgina Bliss, Les and Zora Charles, Gary Simpson and Home Improvement Center, Carole MacElhenny, and Tisha Weber Ford (Restaurateur Sponsors); Steve and Lupe Buhr, Liz and Andrea Butcher, Maureen Harmon, Sandy and Dave Nordahl, Maryan Schall, and Jane and Fred Sweeney (Maître D’ Sponsors); and Lisa Brabo, CenCal Health, Rod Durham, James and Chana Jackson, James and Mary Morouse, Douglas Rossi, Tricia and Craig Price, SEIU Local 620, and Andrew Wilson (Host Sponsors).

Media Sponsors are Santa Maria Times/Lompoc Record, Santa Barbara Independent, and Noozhawk. VIP sponsors include Katya Armistead & Tim Pritchard, David and Diane Black, Jeff and Colette Becker, Robin Doell-Sawaske, Victoria and Mark Eaton, Roberta Heter, David and Jeanne Hoffman, Bill and Jean Howard, Robert Janeway, Chuck and Teressa Johnes, Bruce and Cathy Milner, Montecito Village Grocery, Judi Nishmori and Richard Ellis, Kathy O’Leary, Emily and Mark Rogers, Sybil Rosen, and South Side Coffee Co.

For more information, including a complete list of sponsors and gift certificates, visit CookingUpDreams.org.