Sunday, February 18 , 2018, 2:12 pm | Fair 60º


16 Star Chefs Combine Culinary Talents to Support Youth and Family Services YMCA

James Sly of Sly’s in Carpinteria; Carolyn Williams and Tammy Kronen, Youth and Family Services board members and event committee members; and Vincent Vanhecke of the Valley Club of Montecito gather at Youth and Family Services YMCA’s 17th Annual “Reaching for the Stars” event. Click to view larger
James Sly of Sly’s in Carpinteria; Carolyn Williams and Tammy Kronen, Youth and Family Services board members and event committee members; and Vincent Vanhecke of the Valley Club of Montecito gather at Youth and Family Services YMCA’s 17th Annual “Reaching for the Stars” event. (Youth and Family Services photo)

Sixteen highly acclaimed local chefs came together to prepare extraordinary cuisine for the 160 guests who attended Youth and Family Services YMCA’s sold-out “Reaching for Stars” event May 25 at the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club, which raised more than $66,000 for vital programs for local youth.

Local wineries and brewers donated their fine wine and beer to be paired with the gourmet food, and at the start of the event, several vintners poured tastings to accompany hors d’oeuvres.

Youth and Family Services Executive Director Lynn Karlson addressed attendees as they sat down for the five-course dinner.

Karlson described the four programs of Youth and Family Services YMCA: My Home, which offers supportive housing for homeless young adults ages 18-23; Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, which provides a trusted refuge for vulnerable youth; Support and Outreach Services, which assists youth and young adults (ages 10-24) who find themselves living on the streets or being at-risk of homelessness; and the St. George Family Youth Center, which provides quality after school programs, leadership, enrichment and recreational opportunities for youth in Isla Vista.

Karlson then introduced Maggie Cabrera, a past resident at Noah’s Anchorage, who shared her inspiring story.

Cabrera first became familiar with Youth and Family Services YMCA at 16 years old. Because of family circumstances, she was homeless, sleeping on floors or in the back of a car, when she met Youth and Family Services staff, who helped her receive shelter, meals and other supportive services at Noah’s Anchorage.

Cabrera continues to utilize the drop-in center run by Support and Outreach Services.

“The staff who work at Youth and Family Services YMCA don’t just stick to their job description, they genuinely care,” the 21-year-old said of her experience. “They looked out for me and my well-being when many adults in my life could not.”

The audience gave a standing ovation when Cabrera informed them she graduated with honors from Santa Barbara City College and is one of the 14 percent of applicants accepted to UC Berkeley this fall.

Following the meal consisting of fine foods such as foie gras torchon, smoked duck and goose rillettes, port-braised short rib au jus and delectable cheeses and desserts, the star chefs took the stage.

Led by Vincent Vanhecke of the Valley Club of Montecito, the chefs worked in teams to create the culinary masterpieces enjoyed by the guests throughout the evening.

Each chef was recognized with a special plate hand-decorated by a youth who has benefited from Youth and Family Services YMCA.

Participating chefs included Michael Blackwell (Chef Blackwell), Jean-Michel Carre, (Chocolats du CaliBressan), Pete Clements (Cook Better Live Better), Christine Dahl (Christine Dahl Pastries), Jessica Foster (Jessica Foster Confections), Michael Hutchings (Michael’s Catering), Becca Iglesias and her team (C’est Cheese), Grant MacDonald (Four Seasons Biltmore), Greg Murphy (bouchon), Stephanie Rapp (SBCC School of Culinary Arts), David Rosner (Wine Cask), James and Annie Sly (Sly’s), Mossin Sugich (Santa Barbara Yacht Club), Vincent Vanhecke (Valley Club of Montecito), Jamie West (Chef West Production) and Eric Widmer (La Cumbre Country Club).

Participating wineries and brewers included Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, The Brander Vineyard, Ca’ Del Grevino, Fess Parker Winery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Grassini Family Vineyards, Lucky Dogg Winery, Oreana Winery, Rancho Sisquoc Winery, Sagebrush Annie’s, Touring and Tasting, Westerly Wines and Zaca Mesa Winery.

Event sponsors included Star Sponsors Marilyn & Steven Gutsche; Table Sponsors Ann Jackson Family Foundation, The Whimsie Fund (Wendy & Harry Atterbury) and The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; Patron Sponsors BB&H Benefit Designs, Hutton Parker Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, Doyle-Morgan Structural Engineering (Phileen & Morgan Jones), The Storage Place, Venoco Inc.; and Individual Sponsors Bryant and Sons, Ltd., Jordano’s Inc., Anna & David Grotenhuis, Sally Irving & Michael Cook, Marsha & Al Roberson, Lynn & Roger Karlson, Ventura Rental Party Center and Carolyn & Bob Williams.

To make a donation to Youth and Family Services YMCA, contact Lynn Karlson at 805.569.1103 x32 or [email protected] or visit

Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing Youth and Family Services YMCA.

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