16 Star Chefs Combine Culinary Talents to Support Youth and Family Services YMCA at 17th Annual “Reaching for Stars”

Funds raised provide local youth places to be safe and opportunities to thrive

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(From left to right): James Sly of Sly’s in Carpinteria; Carolyn Williams and Tammy Kronen, Youth and Family Services Board Members and Event Committee Members; Vincent Vanhecke of the Valley Club of Montecito.

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 on 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. At the start of the event, several vintners poured tastings to accompany hors d’oeuvres.

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.

Maggie first became familiar with Youth and Family Services YMCA at 16 years old. Because of family circumstances, Maggie 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. Maggie 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 Maggie 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 with au jus, and delectable cheeses and desserts, the star chefs took the stage.

The chefs – led by Vincent Vanhecke of the Valley Club of Montecito – 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 Carré, (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 Team (C’est Cheese); Grant MacDonald (Four Seasons Biltmore); Greg Murphy (bouchon); Stepanie 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 Wines, Brander Vineyard; Ca’Del Grevino; Fess Parker Winery; Firestone Walker Brewing Company; Grassini Family Vineyards; Lucky Dogg; Oreana Winery; Rancho Sisquoc Winery; Sagebrush Annie’s; Touring and Tasting; Westerly Wines; and Zaca Mesa Winery.

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

To make a donation to Youth and Family Services YMCA, contact Lynn Karlson at (805) 569-1103 x32 or lynn.karlson@ciymca.org, or visit ciymca.org/youthandfamilyservices.

About Youth and Family Services YMCA

Youth and Family Services YMCA serves over 600 children and young people each year through Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, the St. George Family Teen Center, My Home, and Support and Outreach Services. Children and young people in high-risk environments that participate in Youth and Family Services YMCA programs experience increased safety, health and wellbeing and they increase their capacity for self-sufficiency by building skills for independence and developing lasting relationships with adults who are committed to their success. For more information about the Youth and Family Services YMCA, visit http://www.ciymca.org/youthandfamilyservices/ or call (805) 569-1103.

Established in 1887, the Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization of seven YMCA branches serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties including: Camarillo Family YMCA, Lompoc Family YMCA, Montecito Family YMCA, Santa Barbara Family YMCA, Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA in Santa Ynez, Ventura Family YMCA, and Youth and Family Services YMCA.


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