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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

The following article was posted on February 23rd, 2010, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 10, Issue 50 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 10, Issue 50

Get a taste of justice

Chefs and wineries pair up to support Legal Aid Foundation


Multiple benefits
Eat, sip, and socialize at Taste for Justice, a gala fundraiser and chef competition to benefit Legal Aid Foundation's North County services.
Santa Maria’s business people stand behind their community in countless ways, putting good intentions into everyday practice. They give of their time, offer their services, and donate items to auctions to raise funds for worthy causes.

On March 6, Santa Marians are invited to join them in supporting one such cause at the sixth annual Taste for Justice, a benefit for the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County. Proceeds from this food and wine extravaganza will go directly to fund client services in North County.

Taste for Justice takes place at Orcutt Brew Company and will emphasize the “fun” in fundraising by combining good works with an array of edibles, wines, and freshly brewed beers. Silent and live auctions add to the action, as revelers bid on a dazzling variety of rare vintages, tempting goodies, and lifestyle items.

In addition, a number of local chefs will prepare signature dishes for entry into competition for the second annual Gourmet Gavel Award. Celebrity chef Bradley Ogden will judge each specialty and then preside over a gala award presentation.

Ogden, named one of the Great American Chefs by the International Wine and Food Society, has appeared on the Today Show; Good Morning, America; and the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the West series. His eponymous Las Vegas restaurant received the James Beard Award in 2004 for Best New Restaurant, and his most recent enterprise, Root 246, has wowed locals and visitors since it opened in Solvang last year.

Among the participants, executive chef Michael Wood and pastry chef Nova Bevier of Santa Maria Town Center East’s Central City Market will each contribute one dish. The chefs will prepare their entries at the restaurant and finish them on-site at the event.

“We will be participating in Taste for Justice,” said Ryan Gomfin, who, with his wife Erin, oversees all of the Town Center East restaurants, “because it’s a chance for us to get involved in the community, help raise funds for a worthy and very needed cause, and showcase our restaurant.

“Erin and I will attend,” he added, “to help with passing out food and talking about the restaurant.”

Food purveyors sponsoring the event include Mi Cielito Lindo, Coffee Time, Jovi’s Delights, Thai Hut, Trattoria Uliveto, and Harry and David. Allan Hancock College, the Santa Maria Sun, and California Winery Advisor also join the list of sponsors.

On hand to enhance the edibles, staffers from Riverbench Vineyard will pour their 2006 Reserve Chardonnay and 2007 Estate Pinot Noir.

Good cause
Taste for Justice takes place March 6, 1 to 5 p.m., at Orcutt Brew Company (formerly the Loading Dock), 315 S. Broadway, Orcutt. Tickets cost $45 in advance, $50 at the door, and can be bought online at or by contacting Niki Richardson at 963-6754, Ext. 109.
“It’s important to us to be super involved in the local community,” Laura Mohseni, general manager of the Winery Division at Riverbench Vineyard, wrote in an e-mail. “I think especially in times like these, we have to focus on our own backyard.

“It’s a really amazing cause,” she continued, “and between the other vintners, the new brewery, and Legal Aid, it’s a great combo of people participating. It’s a realistic way that people in Santa Maria can make a difference, and it seemed like a perfect event for Riverbench to support.”

Robin Bogue, owner/operator of William James Cellars in Santa Maria, will be pouring her Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley Syrah, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, and a Grenache.

“A good friend asked us to participate when they held their first event, and we have stayed onboard since,” Bogue said. “We support all local events, especially when friends ask for the support, and I appreciate the fact that Legal Aid supports legal services for domestic violence for those in need.

   “I believe people should attend the event to support their local community,“ she added, “to try fantastic wines, beers, and food, and watch the Gourmet Gavel competition. It was very entertaining last year!”

   From Paso Robles comes the Sculpterra Winery team bearing 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Mourvedre, 2007 Zinfandel, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2007 Statuesque (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petite Sirah).

   “We poured at the first event,” said Sculpterra spokesperson Kyle Coots, “and talked with a number of people who had never heard of our winery.

”We are excited to join in Taste for Justice,” he added, “and get the word out about Sculpterra Winery and help the local Central Coast community.”

Additional beverages will be provided by Hallauer Vineyards, Cambria, Byron Vineyard, Costa de Oro Winery, CORE Wine Company, Lucas and Lewellen Vineyards, the Brewhouse, and Orcutt Brew Company.

Offering fee-free legal assistance to low-income and senior citizens, Legal Aid Foundation has been “providing access to justice since 1959.” Its licensed attorneys help members of the public complete documents for civil matters and infractions involving cases ranging from family law and domestic violence, to civil and consumer rights.

Taste for Justice presents a lively, sociable, and tasty way to ensure that Legal Aid remains available to those who need it for years to come, and offers us all a perfect opportunity to put our good intentions into everyday practice.

K. Reka Badger fights for truth, justice, and wine. Contact her at

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