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Top Chef/Winemaker Dinner Benefits At-Risk Teens

Reaching for Stars dinner will take place on Aril 26 at the Santa Barbara Women’s Club. Click to view larger
Reaching for Stars dinner will take place on Aril 26 at the Santa Barbara Women’s Club. (Courtesy photo)

One night a year, top chefs team up to create the Reaching for Stars five-course dinner to benefit local at-risk and homeless youth.

This year's event, set for Thursday, April 26, at the Santa Barbara Women’s Club, will be enhanced with premium wines from Brander, Alma Rosa, Babcock, Flying Goat Cellars, Buscador, and Lumen specifically paired to the culinary creations.

Winemakers also will pour from their portfolios in a pre-dinner tasting, Reaching for Stars said.
 
Reaching for Stars is the principal fundraiser for Youth & Family Services (YFS), the social services branch of the Channel Islands YMCA.

YFS comprises Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, a licensed shelter for teens; My Home, providing housing for transitional age young adults; Support and Outreach Services, assisting homeless teens and those in risk of losing their housing; and St. George Youth Center, providing after-school enrichment and support.
 
Executive Chef Vincent Vanhecke has been leading the chef team for 14 years. His passion for helping kids comes from his heart and his history, Reaching for Stars said.

“Supporting Reaching for Stars and YFS is important to me because it shows that the community cares about kids who are at-risk and who have had a harsh upbringing," he said.

"It is important to let them know that they are not different, that there is hope, and that many of us have been able to come out of these situations successfully,” he said.

Vanhecke's donation of his time and talent has been matched with his top-chef team, including chefs from:

The Wine Cask, the Yacht Club, La Cumbre Country Club, Michael’s Catering, Christine Dahl Pastries, Chocolats du CaliBressan, Bouchon, the University Club, SBCCS’s School of Culinary Arts and its students.
 
This year’s menu will be accompanied by curated regional wine pairings, Reaching for Stars reports.

Tama Takahashi of Inside Wine Santa Barbara has also selected vintners to participate in the wine tasting that will greet attendees as they arrive at the event. Takahashi volunteered her services after attending the event for several years.

“Twice I’ve had the good fortune to be seated next to the keynote speaker, who is always one of the teens who have been helped by YFS," Takahashi said.

"Hearing the personal story of a young person taken out of danger and mentored toward college has been profoundly moving and inspirational,” Takahashi said.
 
With regards to the challenges facing youth, Valerie Kissell, YFS executive director, said: “We know that youth are extremely vulnerable when faced with trauma or adversity in their formative years.

"The support provided by programs, such as YFS, with consistent, caring adults can strengthen resiliency and the improve the prospect of future success.”

Tickets for the event are $250 and include the winemaker tasting, five-course gourmet wine-paired dinner, and a souvenir wine glass. A limited number of table sponsorships from $1,000-$10,000 are available to support YFS programs.

Visit https://santabarbaracountyys.org/give/reachingforstars2018.html to buy tickets or for more information.

For more information, contact Kissell at 569-1103 ext. 32.

— Valerie Kissell for Channel Islands YMCA.

 

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