Catering for the hungry

Culinary students showcase their talent, raise money for local food bank

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The Hult Center hosted over 50 restaurants, breweries and wineries to fund money for Food for Lane County, on April 8. Mike West, a local restaurateur, founded Chef’s Night Out in 1991 and has helped raise over $2.13 million to feed the hungry in Lane County.

West founded local eatery treasures, such as the Fisherman’s Market and Bill and Tim’s BBQ, in his 51 years of life. In his passing in 2011 the West family created the “Mike West Overall Best Bite Award” in honor of his memory. The award is given to a student at Lane Community College enrolled in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program, with a $2,000 cash prize.

This year the West family awarded Kathleen Noll and Rebekah Glen, each earning $2,000 with the award.

Tickets for admission were $75 for general admission or $95 for an hour of early access to all the treats and sweets without a large crowd. The money was all to benefit Food for Lane County. Over the past 29 years, Chef’s Night Out has raised funds to be able to supply over 6.4 million meals for the less fortunate in the lane community.

The participants were quickly accommodated with a few bites of chocolate-covered strawberries or light and flaky gourmet pizza dishes. Their plates came equipped with cup holders for the many varieties of brew and wine samples.

The lobby was turned into a three story medley of fine foods, fun dishes and quality drinks. The crowds were easy to guide in the early hour but quickly became packed shoulder to shoulder. Lines to get food nearly became a feeding frenzy to grab the chef’s specials on silver platters.

The first table attendees passed by was LCC’s Culinary and Hospitality programs’. They brought three separate dishes to the event. The first was a crowd favorite of maple glazed black pepper bacon dipped in dark chocolate spread. Second was marbled cubes of coffee latte gelee. The third was sliced radishes from the learning garden with rum vanilla sauce.

These flavors were not designed to only be scrumptious but also to bring awareness to the ingredients. Each of the three dishes included the ingredients chocolate, coffee and vanilla, which are threatened to go extinct by climate change.

The group of LCC students brought the school an award for best overall presentation and hospitality.