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Decadent affair helps raise funds

Three Seasons offers desserts, champagne

Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 19:11

Bottoms up

Sam Attal / The Advocate

Chrissa Imports associate Judi Antoniotti pours a glass of champagne during the Champagne and Chocolate Event in the Three Seasons Restaurant on Sunday. The event raised money for students to travel abroad.

Delightful treats at the Chocolate and Champagne Event filled the stomachs of patrons in a fundraising event for culinary students in the Three Seasons Restaurant on Sunday.

The culinary arts department at Contra Costa College usually has only one big event a year, but department Chairperson Nader Sharkes wanted to bring decadence to the autumn season.

"We do the Food and Wine Event in April every year, but we wanted something in the fall to help raise more money for the students' scholarships (to study abroad)," Sharkes said.

For three hours, attendees were able to experience the sweet and delectable in various unconventional confections. Some of the creations included truffles, cakes and cookies, all with chocolate as the main component.

Outside, apple cider and champagne, both sweet and bitter, were served.

Sharkes said he estimated more than 100 people attended the fall party.

Previous student trips abroad have included going to China and Italy, and chosen students are likely to return to Italy again in summer 2012.

A committee comprised of students helped obtain the necessary supplies by asking for donations, finding sponsors and getting the decorations needed to make the party a success.

Culinary arts major Sonja Johnson was one of the members of the committee. She said they called various culinary companies and asked for donations, and offered contributors complimentary tickets to the Champagne and Chocolate Event.

The companies that pitched in were really eager to help, and usually participate in the Food and Wine Event too, Johnson said.

Different establishments offered all the amenities. The donors included Guittard Chocolate Company and Chrissa Imports.

"(The event) is great. Everyone seems to be enjoying the food," culinary arts major Sabrina Anderson said. "Especially the savory stuff, like the meat."

The chocolate-crusted steaks were praised by attendees and were consumed so quickly the department ran out of them less than halfway through the event. Former student Junell Patterson said the steaks were tender and beyond appealing.

Nursing major Malina Khan attended the event to support her boyfriend who is in the program.

"The food tastes great," she said, adding that her favorite item was the chocolate hazelnut-filled maroons.

"Nader Sharkes and his students continue to raise the bar," President McKinley Williams said while briefly speaking to the attendees. "CCC is a premier college and the department shows that."

Patterson won first prize in the raffle, and her gift basket included champagne, coffee, kayaking tickets and cookies.

At $25, the tickets were worth the price, and even beyond what they wanted, Patterson said. People also got more chocolate than they bargained for.

Attendee Judith Peterson said, "We are contributing to the students to help them study abroad."

Peterson said she and Patterson attend many of the occasions the department presents because both of them took classes from Sharkes and deeply respect the program.

Chef instructor Lourdes Sampayo said her class made the chocolate hazelnut-filled maroons and chocolate flan. She also helped create the elegant atmosphere, putting candles, balloons and centerpieces around the restaurant.

The students took about three days to cook for the actual event, and many of them showed up at 9 a.m. to prepare to serve the people. They all worked very hard, Sampayo said.

"I wanted to call the event ‘Choctober Fest' but no one liked the name," she said with a laugh.

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