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Casa Pacifica Serves Up 9th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner

The 9th Annual Yummie Top Chef Dinner moved to Rancho De Las Palmas in Moorpark, standing alone and separate from the annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival for the first time. The sold-out, “Under the Tuscan Stars”-themed dinner gathered some of Casa Pacifica’s previous Yummie Culinary Competition winners to create an unforgettable epicurean event. Retired Sheriff Geoff Dean returned as emcee and continued his reign as a crowd favorite with his humor and passion for Casa Pacifica’s cause of helping foster and at-risk youth.

The showcased chefs cooked up incredible dishes for more than 225 guests to enjoy and together with the winemakers shared special details of their creations. 

Following a cocktail hour, guests were treated to the first culinary treat of the night—Ahi Tuna Tartare by Chef Nic Manocchio of University Auxiliary Services CSUCI, complemented with Rocks & Drams’ specialty cocktails—an Old Fashioned and a Coconut Cucumber Spritz—and Institution Ale Co.’s RX Pils, winner of Casa Pacifica’s 2022 Best in Fest Brewery Competition.

Guests bid through the night on live and silent auction items such as sporting event packages, a helicopter tour, private chef dinners, wine baskets, fine jewelry, special getaways and more. A highlight of the silent auction was beautiful paintings, tiles and jewelry designed and handmade by kids at Casa Pacifica. All proceeds from auctioned art pieces went directly to Casa Pacifica’s Recreational Therapy Department.

To kick-off the sit-down portion of the dinner, hosts Hugh and Keets Cassar of The Cassar Family gave a warm welcome and led guests in a cheerful toast to Casa Pacifica.

Guests enjoyed a beautifully prepared Duck Confit Salad presented by Chef Nic Manocchio of University Auxiliary Services, CSUCI, with blood orange vanilla bean vinaigrette, radicchio, fennel, arugula, dried cherries and Point Reyes blue cheese. The salad was paired with Brassfield Estate Winery’s lovely 2019 Pinot Gris.

The third course, Local Red Snapper, was prepared by Chef Jason Collis, Vice President of World Central Kitchen, and featured a delicious Catalan saffron tomato sauce finished with ground almonds and garlic. The Red Snapper was paired with Magnavino Cellars’ excellent 2018 Reserve Chardonnay.

Next, the Intermezzo course cleaned and refreshed guests’ palates with a lovely glass of honeydew and mint-infused Prosecco, melon ball and mint oil. The fifth course presented guests with a beautiful Lamb Risotto by Chef Alex Montoya of Water’s Edge and Waterside restaurants, comprised of flavorful sumac-braised lamb shoulder, parmesan risotto, chimichurri butter and micro greens. The Ojai Vineyard’s 2018 John Sebastiano Grenache boldly accompanied the course. 

The sixth and main course featured incredible Korean BBQ Short Ribs by Chef Alex Castillo of Latitude 34—slow roasted ribs, brushed with a flavorful sweet and spicy sauce, served over steamed Calrose rice. Opolo Vineyard’s 2020 Mountain Zinfandel was a perfect pairing to the course.

And finally, course seven offered an irresistible dessert trio of a citrus-infused Mascarpone Mousse Mini Chocolate Tart by Chef Julia San Bartolome of Sweet Arleen’s, a smooth Pistachio Cookie Butter Gelato created by Chef Alex Montoya representing Honey Cup Coffee House & Creamery, and a tangy, sweet Lemon Drop Crunch Mini Cupcake by Missy Drayton of Missy’s Cupcake Creations. Dessert also included drinks from The Cappuccino Express and a unique Rocks & Drams’ Tiny Teeling Martini made with Teeling Irish Whiskey Small Batch, espresso, and spiced Demerara Cane.

All proceeds from the Yummie Top Chef Dinner directly support Casa Pacifica’s vital programs and services serving vulnerable children, youth, and their families.

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