3rd Annual So-Cal Chef Open Benefiting Oak Grove Athletic Program & Gymnasium Monday, November 15th.
Last Monday night brought out the golfers and the gourmands to enjoy the talents of local chefs and raise money for a wonderful cause. Held at the beautiful Journey at Pechanga Golf Course and Clubhouse, the event was a hole-in-one for all involved.
Proceeds from the event benefited Oak Grove, a non-profit organization and school that serves 150 local at-risk youth through residential and day treatment programs in Murrieta and Perris. After reveling in the fun of the day, the packed house was reminded of the importance and effectiveness of Oak Grove’s work as the staff and students shared their dream of raising $1 million dollars for a new gymnasium/multi-purpose room.
The real winners were certainly the Oak Grove students themselves, but the official “People’s Choice” winners of this year’s So-Cal Chef Open were Executive Chef Luis Camacho and Executive Chef Tony Nanci from Anthony’s Lounge & Ristorante. These talented chefs impressed the crowd with “Crab Stuffed Filet Mignon with Cognac Peppercorn Sauce and Tortellini Alfredo with Asparagus.” It’s hard to go wrong with filet mignon, and this was especially buttery—and the sauce was divine. Congratulations, Chef Luis and Chef Tony!
However, I feel like I won first prize myself, as I tasted my way through the inspired and delicious dishes from some of the area’s best chefs. The task was an arduous one because all the creations were so eclectic and delectable. Here is the mouth-watering description of our menu that evening:
• “Caprese Salad” served by Chef Sabastian Crivello of Crivello Ristorante Italiano. My all-time favorite appetizer with quality ingredients; so simple, so good!
• “Filet Lollipops Wrapped in Prosciutto paired with Layered Crab Stack with Avocado, Onion, Tomato, and Mango” created by Chef Francesco Cusimano from Rustico Ristorante & Pizzeria. The presentation was too pretty to eat…but I’m glad I did!
• “Jambalaya; Spicy Pork Sliders; and Alligator Bites” created by Chef Sharon Cunningham from Simply Sharon’s. Always simply savory and scrumptious!
• “House Cured Duroc Pork Belly Braised in Double Bastard Ale on top of Spent Grain Waffle with Beluga Lentils, Crème Fraiche, Double Bastard Syrup and Candied Walnuts” created by Executive Chef Alex Carballo of Stone Brewing Company World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido. Wow, the sum is definitely more than its parts!
• “Short Rib Mini Tacos with Mango Papaya Salsa; Mini Monte Cristo Sandwiches on a Stick” created by Sous Chef Tim Nalick from Pechanga Resort & Casino. The Monte Cristos are crispy, doughy, sweet, and salty—hard to eat just one!
• “Potstickers stuffed with Foie Gras, Chicken and Shitake Mushroom Mousse paired with a Salad Roll with Roast Pork, Peanuts, Cilantro and Basil with Grape and Chile Sauce” created by Executive Chef Michael Henry from Meritage at Callaway. Great to have an Asian influence with this flavorful combination of spicy refreshment!
• “Ahi Poke Tuna Salad on Fried Wonton with Mango and Daikon Relish drizzled with Wasabi Cream Sauce; Wild Boar Short Rib on Citrus Fennel Slaw; Pork Tenderloin with Broccoli Rabe and Porcini Mushroom Risotto; and Sweet Potato, Bacon, and Cream Fraiche on Endive”. These four ambitious and enchanting plates were created by Chef Maurice Vibar, one of the talented and up-and-coming chefs at Wilson Creek Winery’s Creekside Grille.
If you’re drooling and jealous, make sure you sign up for next year’s event. This classy affair’s $40 admission fee included generous samplings of all that food, wine tastings from Wilson Creek, and a never-ending supply of gourmet chocolates from Pechanga’s own Executive Pastery Chef, Jean-Marie Verhoeven. Local businesses also sponsored extremely generous and elaborate prizes and gift baskets that were raffled off to lucky donors.
Or, if you can’t wait until next year to get a taste of this amazing food, make sure to visit these talented chefs at their home restaurants. This event reminded us all what culinary talent we have in the Temecula Valley and surrounding areas.
Bravo to all the chefs for donating their time and talents to make our palates sing. Bravo to the dedicated staff at Oak Grove for working tirelessly to improve the futures of children in need. And thanks to all who worked so hard to put on an elegant and fun event which allowed the community to play and eat for a great cause.