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Kathleen Hill: Food Fest at La Luz, No Pay pays it forward and more

Food Fest tonight at La Luz

Enjoy a surprise Food Fest tonight, Friday, April 27, at La Luz Center. La Luz Center computer class students came up with the idea when they heard that La Luz was trying to fundraise for scholarships – and they thought the Food Fest was a way they could contribute and give back to the organization that once helped them.

Computer students and alums will cook all of the food and collect donations for it.

They will be serving the sought-after pozole, tacos dorados, shredded chicken tostadas, tamales, tuna ceviche, carne asada tacos, tacos dorados the papa, pizza, fruit, bionicos (fruit salad), and flavored waters. 6 to 8 p.m. 17560 Greger St., Sonoma. 938-5131. Laluzcenter.org.

No Pay Café thank you party

Sheana Davis and partner Ben Sessions have invited everyone who volunteered at the No Pay Café/Café Gratis at the Springs Community Hall following the October wildfires to attend a thank you party at the General’s Daughter on Sunday, May 6. The Epicurean Connection will serve food, wine, ice tea and lemonade to any of the 150 people who she says volunteered to pass out or deliver the food from Facebook and other sources. 4 to 6 p.m. RSVP to Sheana at sheanadavis@gmail.com or 235-9530.

Divewalk Café pop-up Sunday

Fans of Divewalk Café, and those who never got to its previous brick-and-mortar location next to Sonoma Brewing Company, will rush to Sonoma Springs Community Hall (formerly the Grange) for a Divewalk pop-up on Sunday, April 29.

Freshly back from a stay in Vietnam, Lorene and Marc Reed will serve both crêpes and bánh mi sandwiches to go with the Springs community’s Spring Up Market and Open House across from Mary’s Pizza on Highway 12.

The Spring Up Market will be “a small market with local agricultural products and plant starts,” according to Seth Dolinsky, president of Sonoma Springs Community Hall.

As Lorene said, “It will be our first test of the pop-up scene, and hopefully the beginning of more to come. Our menu will be limited as we begin to flex our kitchen muscles again.” They will be cooking in the newly renovated “community kitchen,” which is for rent for commercial food preparation.

Watch for their crêpes filled with homemade raspberry jam, scrambled eggs, Jack cheese and scallions, the “ham it up” with Swiss cheese, ham, scallions and a fried egg, or the “goat for it” with Jack cheese, herbed chicken, goat cheese and avocado crêpes ($9 to $11). Among the bánh mi selections will be their Hanoi chicken, chili-cumin pulled pork, and bánh mi opla, “a fancy new name we learned on our travels for the omelet bánh mi.”

Lorene and Marc ask that you order online at squareup.com/market/divewalkcafe. They say, “Choose your time of arrival and don’t worry, we will wait for you to arrive before making the food, and if you can’t make it we will issue a refund.” They just need to know quantities to prepare. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 18627 Sonoma Highway, Boyes Hot Springs. sonomaspringshall@gmail.com.

‘Sip, Savor’ for senior transportation

Vintage House will host a “Sip, Savor & Celebrate” event at Sunrise Villa, the big senior residence on Napa Road east of Broadway, to raise funds for its Local Independent Mobility Options (LIMO) service, which provides free rides for seniors who need transportation to grocery stores, hair dressers, the post office, banks, the library, farmers’ markets, and other non-medical destinations.

The Tuesday, May 2 event will feature wine, a big buffet, raffle baskets, a silent auction, music from Sonoma Soul with Jami Jamison, Keith Ridenhour on flute and sax and Steve Della Maggiora on guitar and piano playing a mix of jazz and popular music from the ‘50s through the ‘70s. Tickets $25 Vintage House members, $30 public at vintagehouse.org. 1 to 3 p.m. 91 Napa Rd., Sonoma. More info with Denise Wilbanks at 996-0311.

Sonoma Mission Inn loses name chefs

Chef Andrew Cain has left Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn to join former chef Bruno Tison as a corporate chef at Northwell Health, a New York healthcare system, with the goal of producing good food for more than 60,000 staff at the company’s 22 New York hospitals. The duo will teach the company’s many cooks to be better chefs. Tison spent 14 years at the Plaza Hotel kitchen in Manhattan before he came to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.

Cain was most recently chef at Santé Restaurant in the inn. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he also worked at La Folie, San Francisco, served as a chef at Michele Richard¹s Citronelle, at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Michael Mina¹s San Francisco restaurant and at El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma.

Many chefs have been gravitating toward the hassle-less environment of institutional cooking with somewhat regular hours, fewer financial pressures, and working with people who want to cook for people who really need better food. Tison was quoted on newsday.com as saying, “I want restaurant-quality food in the hospital industry. That’s my vision and my duty.” What a concept!

Manager Rick Corcoran left Sonoma Mission Inn recently to become General Manager of the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco.

Aventine in escrow

The Aventine/Grist Mill/Juanita business in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village is in escrow, according to owner Adolfo Veronese. Remember that Toni and Adolfo have had to slow down due to various serious health issues they are overcoming. All are excited at what might develop in Aventine space.

Cinco de Mayo next weekend

La Luz Center now organizes the Cinco de Mayo celebration on the Plaza and will offer fabulous food from some familiar and unfamiliar sources. It’s always a beautiful and stirring event. In fact a book club from Tahoe is coming for the weekend to tour local carnicerias and stay for Cinco de Mayo.

And yes, Cinco de Mayo in Sonoma Plaza will be celebrated Sunday, May 6, seis de Mayo.

El Brinquito (famous for its barbecued chickens), will sell gorditas, Tacos La Chencha will serve tacos and elotes, which are boiled and grilled corn on the cob, to which you can add crumbly Cotija cheeses. Others will serve huaraches and ceviche de camaron (shrimp), enchiladas Michoacanas of chicken and rice, tacos dorados, various fresh fruit salads, aguas frescas, and churros by Sonoma Valley High School students.

For those dedicated to American food, Aunt Betty’s corndogs and the Java Wagon will be there form smoothies and hot and cold drinks.

Nibs & Sips

Cochon Volant BBQ Smokehouse is now open Thursdays through Sundays on the Springs. Amy’s Chinese buffet is now closed on Mondays.

The Red Grape, Ramekins and Delhi Belly are all hiring.

More olive oil awards

Stacking up the award medals since 1995 when Deborah Rogers was a co-founder and miller, the Olive Press just won two more golds at the Central Coast Olive Oil Competition. Judges tasted olive oils among 137 entries from 52 farms throughout California.

The Olive Press’s two golds were for their Jalapeno Olive Oil and Heritage Mission Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Get yours either at the Olive Press adjacent to Jacuzzi Family Winery or at Oxbow Public Market in Napa.

Big deal menus

Probably more readers are interested in what the glams at the Kentucky Derby will dine on than in what President Donald Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron ate at Mount Vernon, Virginia on Tuesday.

And readers might be more inclined to serve mint julips and try to recreate the Derby menu than the White House menu.

So here are the menus:

Churchill Downs menu

Each year Churchill Downs chef David Danielson tries to offer a modern approach to traditional southern dishes. This year Danielson has to draw from Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which reportedly includes flavors of wood spice, grain, sweet aromatics and fruit.

This official menu will be served to 22,000 guests in the course’s premium dining areas on Saturday, May 5 and at the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 4. Food quantities include 5,640 pounds of turkey, 4,075 pounds of braised pork, 8,200 pounds of pasta, 7,600 pounds of potatoes, 3,800 pounds of carrots, and 3,600 oysters.

As appetizers, you might enjoy roasted sweet potato salad with charred pecans, ham with roasted beats, goat cheese with peach and tomato Caprese salad with goat cheese, chilled oysters, and cracklins’ with pimento cheese.

Entrées will be mushroom-braised pork medallions with grits and pickled asparagus, roasted turkey breast with bourbon peach glaze, or lamb bolognaise ziti pasta with ricotta and mint.

Desserts bring apple cranberry crisp with vanilla bean ice cream and bourbon caramel crème brûlée.

Trump-Macron dinner at Mount Vernon

Apparently the State Dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, and President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, was organized by Melania according to recent headlines.

Longtime White House chef Christeta Comerford is said to have utilized vegetables from First Lady Michelle Obama’s famous garden, which had been rumored to be destined for dust early in the Trump Administration.

This dinner, too, headed south for flavors and culinary traditions.

The first course included a goat cheese gâteau, tomato jam, buttermilk biscuit crumbles, and variegated lettuces. The main course was rack of spring lamb, burnt cipollini soubise, and Carolina gold rice jambalaya, followed by dessert of a nectarine tart and crème fraiche ice cream.

State Dinner wines were all west coast, with no Trump wines on the menu.