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Local Chefs ‘Reaching for Stars’ in Benefit for YMCA Youth Programs

Tickets available now for the annual fundraiser, set for April 10 at the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club

Reaching for Stars, the annual fundraiser supporting Youth and Family Services YMCA, will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 at the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club (Rockwood), 670 Mission Canyon Road.

Guests will enjoy a sumptuous, multicourse dinner headed up by Valley Club chef Vincent Vanhecke and prepared by his team of Santa Barbara’s most talented and generous chefs. Local vintners will generously donate wine to pair with each menu course, and this year Gainey Vineyard will also host a pre-dinner wine tasting.

Proceeds from the event will benefit YFS programs, including My Home at Artisan Court, a supportive housing program for emancipated foster youth, Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, Street Outreach and the Isla Vista Teen Center.

Chef Charlie Rushton from the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, a member of Vanhecke’s Reaching for Stars culinary team, was so moved by the young people who spoke at the event in 2011 that he wanted to do more.

“Charlie approached us after last year’s Reaching for Stars event and asked, ‘What else can I do to help?’” YFS Executive Director Lynn Karlson said. “He is now teaching monthly cooking classes for the residents at My Home, who are learning to prepare affordable, fresh and healthful meals.”

The affable chef has quickly developed a rapport with the young residents, who are developing confidence in the kitchen and in life as a result of their inclusion in the My Home program. According to Karlson, “40 percent of foster children become homeless within six months when they emancipate at age 18. The goal of My Home is to help prepare them for independence and end the cycle of homelessness.”

This year’s Reaching for Stars chefs include: Alessandro Cartumini (Four Seasons The Biltmore), Brandon Hughes (Wine Cask), Brian Parks (Canary Hotel), Charlie Fredericks (SBCC) Charlie Rushton (Four Seasons The Biltmore), Christine Dahl-Hutchings (Christine Dahl Pastries) Don Skipworth (private chef), Eric Widmer (La Cumbre Country Club), Greg Murphy (bouchon), James Sly (Sly’s), Mari Bartoli (private chef), Michael Blackwell (Montecito Country Club), Michael Hutchings (Michael’s Catering), Mossin Sugish (Blush), Randy Bublitz and culinary students (SBCC), Stephane Rapp (SBCC) and Vincent Vanhecke (Valley Club).

Vanhecke is especially excited about the opportunity to include a number of young people from the SBCC culinary program on the chef’s team this year.

“This year more than ever it is all about the kids — the kids at Noah’s and My Home and the Teen Center, and the kids in the kitchen helping to prepare dinner for our guests and raise money for the programs,” Vanhecke said.

“We hope the community will turn out for a great dining experience that benefits a great cause,” Karlson said.

Tickets for the event are $200 and can be purchased by calling 805.569.1103 X32. A limited number of table sponsorships are also available for $1,000 to $5,000. This year’s event sponsors include Venoco Inc., Steven and Marilyn Gutsche, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, the Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Pete and Gerd Jordano, Joline Godfrey, BB&H Benefit Designs and UCSB Student Affairs.

To purchase tickets or for more information, click here or call 805.569.1103 x32.

— Lynn Karlson is executive director of Youth and Family Services YMCA.

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