Good Eats

12 05 2010

Yes, sports is what I love. But it isn’t all I do. I love to eat. Those who know me know that is no mystery. Hence the newest story is on the Stars Chefs & Vintners Gala is San Francisco going on May 16 at the Fort Mason pavilion. Major shout out to Kevin Kopjak of Charles Zukow for feeding me the idea and for setting up interviews with Daniel Mangione (executive pastry chef at Navio restaurant) and Ashley McCumber (executive director of Meals on Wheels San Francisco). And another big one to Daniel who showed us around Navio in Half Moon Bay. It was insane. Major balla’ status. The food looked delicious. I will be back mos def! That said. Enjoy. Hopefully. Link to the story online here. And the photos, they’re courtesy of Justine Canales — who is super awesome as well.

Food and wine for a good cause
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
San Mateo resident Daniel Mangione knows a little about food.

He’s the executive pastry chef at Navio in Half Moon Bay — an elegant, award-winning restaurant at the Ritz Carlton, known for a spectacular menu and its views of the Pacific.

For three years now, he has not only served up treats that tantalize the taste buds of Peninsula residents, he’s also traveled around the globe doing what he does best.

Take a bite into any of his pastries, his flan or his tiramisu perhaps, and you’ll see why, when it comes to sweets, it’s no mystery that Mangione is one of the best.

What might not be as evident about Mangione and the Navio is their commitment to the community, in not only the food they prepare for their guests, but in reaching out to a multitude of people with needs throughout the Bay Area.

It’s this commitment that has driven Mangione and the members of his team to participate in the 23rd annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala, a fundraising event hosted by Meals on Wheels, this Sunday at the Fort Mason festival pavilion in San Francisco.

The gala is Meals on Wheels’ largest fundraiser and its main source of charitable contributions for the year.

“We are very excited to be participating in the gala,” Mangione said. “It’s an event that, as a chef, you want to mark on your calendar every year.”

Meals on Wheels is an organization that provides nutritionally conscious meals, two times a day, to homebound seniors. What started as a grassroots movement 38 years ago now extends to over 1,400 seniors, providing over 16,000 meals a week.

The gala will be headlined by over 70 premiere chefs throughout the Bay Area, who will come together for one-night of truly exquisite cuisine while raising an estimated 1.1 million dollars for the Meals on Wheels organization.

“It’s really become the premiere food event in Northern California each year and is probably on par with any similar event of its type in the country,” said Ashley McCumber, executive director of Meals on Wheels San Francisco. “So we’re really excited to have this opportunity each year.”

Helping homebound seniors is a mission McCumber took up in 2007 when he joined Meals on Wheels. “It was the best move of my career,” he said. And it’s that shared passion among his colleagues, as well as people like Mangione, that have made the Star Chefs & Vintners Gala what it is today.

“People want to support Meals on Wheels,” McCumber said. “It’s a universal mission that everyone understands — the leadership of Nancy Oakes and her team along with our brand, our mission, really leads to this being a must-do event for a lot of people. Because it’s running for so long and it’s been so successful it become a place that many of the restaurant chefs and vendors truly want to put on their calendars each year.”

Mangione agrees. “If we can do it, we do,” he said about the Navio’s charitable efforts. “You get to help people while doing what you love to do. What more can you ask for?”

Mangione and his team have been brainstorming since January for the gala. And for Navio it isn’t just a matter of satisfying the sweet tooth on Sunday. It’s about giving the Navio/Half Moon Bay
experience to those who attend. The chef has been busy planning the theme of Navio’s presentation and making trips to local farms to select the best and freshest for Sunday’s gala. “At Navio, we talk
about experiencing ‘coastal cuisine’ and that means working with local farmers to give guests a true taste of the area,” Mangione said.

While a magician never reveals his secrets, Mangione did give a little insight as to his plans for the Stars gala — in a word, red.

“(The food) sets the tone for the event,” McCumber said. “It’s really an unparalleled food and wine experience.”

McCumber is expecting this year’s gala to be bigger than last year’s, even increasing the number of seats by 90. The $1.1 million raised at the event in 2009 was a record. But records are made to be broken.

“We have found that through the course of this great recession that we have had to work much harder to reach out to get people to give,” McCumber said. “But many people have continued to give to charities that are in our line of work, those things that are basic services and therefore we have been OK. We haven’t seen substantial growth but we have not seen a decline in funding, it’s just we have to work that much harder to have the same amount of money coming through the door.”

The Star Chefs & Vintners Gala will be held May 16 at the Fort Mason festival pavilion in San Francisco. Tickets and information are available online at http://www.mowsf.org or by calling  (415) 920-1111.

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