.Dine Al Fresco at Sustain Supper and Avant Garden Party

All-star chefs, community activists, food-lovers, and hard-working organic farmers will gather on June 10 for the Sustain Supper, an al fresco meal that unfolds in the fields overlooking the ocean to benefit the Homeless Garden Project. I have been moved, delighted, well-fed, and enlightened at the past two Sustain Suppers I’ve attended. The organic dinner will occupy long tables spread under a canvas tent in the Garden’s fields. The event is a chance to share a meal with community leaders and friends, and to hear apprentices’ stories about learning opportunities that have changed lives.

Last year Brad Briske and his culinary team created wood-fired seafood entrees that paired well with wines from Bonny Doon Vineyard and Burrell School. And yes, everything does taste incredible when cooked and served outdoors. In past years I rekindled many old friendships, caught up with former university and newspaper colleagues, and enjoyed the overall mood of celebration—such incredible luck to live in this remarkable place. The outdoor meal starts off with wine, appetizers, and a brief, always interesting tour of the grounds. Then everybody stakes out dining turf and settles in to meet tablemates and begin dinner. The food is outstanding, full of seasonal invention, and invariably ending with an inspired dessert. Engaging talks follow, with this year’s keynote given by ace tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki, an Apple and Wikipedia author and all-star inspirational guru. The chance to hear Kawasaki would be enough of a power-inducing temptation for most people. But there’s much more. This year the four-course dinner is prepared by another top culinary quartet. Working with local, organic ingredients, chef/entrepreneur Andrea Mollenauer brings her Lifestyle Culinary Arts catering expertise to the task of appetizers.

“When asked to guest chef,” Mollenauer explains, “I try to let the farm availability guide my choice.” She also admits that she likes to let other guest chefs choose their menu items first and then she “fills in the gaps once the other chefs have started to conjure up some magic.” Creating small dishes and the vegetarian entrée is seasoned chef Gema Cruz, the leading light of Gabriella Cafe’s kitchen and a woman who knows her way around brilliant flavor pairings. With luck, participants can expect some Oaxacan inflection of her menu choices. The main entrée will be created by John Paul Lechtenberg, whose handiwork has reinvigorated the kitchen at Hollins House for the past several years. The delicious assignment of creating dessert falls to Dave Kumec, the founding genius of Mission Hill Creamery. Hopefully a seasonal ice cream innovation will be part of his plan. And I’m hungry already! Saturday, June 10, 4-7:30 p.m., $16 -$150. store.homelessgardenproject.org/sustain-supper.

Avant Garden Africa Party

Join some sensational musical artists and friends for an afternoon of pulse-raising music, the always-exciting food wizardry of chef Jozseph Schultz and a silent auction that includes a six-day South African Safari! Always one of the top cultural events of the summer calendar, the New Music Works Avant Garden Party happens Sunday, June 11 from 2-6 p.m. at The Garden, 2701 Monterey Ave., in Soquel (sliding scale tix from $17-$25). Fabulous African music, new and old performed by singers, composers, musicians, the Senegalese Dance and Drum Ensemble, Bill Walker’s atmospheric electric slide guitar, even a solo harp piece by Lou Harrison performed by the wondrous Jennifer Cass. Food to evoke the soul of Africa—as longtime locals know Schultz is a world cuisine expert and wields a wok to contend with—and music to match. Details and advance tickets at newmusicworks.org.


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