Rotary's Culinary Festival a Big Hit!
By: Jeff Frank - North County Times
Most of the people attending the inaugural Coeur de Cuisine culinary celebration on Sunday at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido could muster up just one complaint about the Escondido Rotary's new signature event.
Their stomachs weren't big enough to take advantage of all the wonderful food and drink served up by 32 restaurants and 13 wineries and breweries on hand.
"Darn it. I think I'm full," said My Beautiful Wife, about midway through the food fest. "I still have too much more to eat."
I overheard another woman tell a friend, "I can't eat anymore without my muumuu," while Rosa Ruiz looked at the bounteous banquet and said, "I'll have to exercise two hours tomorrow. I'll take my dog out for a walk twice."
That the Coeur de Cuisine surpassed all expectations could be ascertained just by checking out the smiling faces of the Rotary members, as well as the full plates and glasses attendees balanced as they moved from station to station checking out the gourmet offerings.
Quick reviews included phrases like this: "Awesome;" "A dream come true;" "Amazing;" and "Outstanding."
Councilman Ed Gallo, in charge of the silent auction, commented, "People are going to be talking about this event for a long time."
Even the hungriest of guests could only begin to sample the offerings that ranged from crabcakes to duck comfit to Chilean sea bass to baba ganoush. Artisan breads, decadent pastries, even a chocolate fondue fountain kept people coming back for more and more.
The Rotary paused briefly during the event to pay tribute to the late Bill Brecht for his love of and service to the community and also to recognize all the chefs, from restaurants in Escondido to La Jolla and San Diego and points between.
The rest of the night was devoted to trying out the delicious appetizers and entrees prepared by the top-line chefs participating.
"It's wonderful to see this in Escondido. It's fabulous," said chairman Dick Daniels. "Everybody loves good food and good restaurants. The restaurants really love it. They've got the packed house they wanted to see. We couldn't be happier."
With more than 400 tickets sold, $44,000 in sponsorships and generous bidding in silent and live auctions, the event easily is the Rotary's most successful fund-raiser. The total should surpass $50,000 and even approach $60,000, once all contributions are tallied; money that will be used to support numerous community groups and for college scholarships.
"We knew this would be successful, but we had no idea we'd do what we did," Daniels said. It's too bad they didn't offer doggie bags.
Hot time: The first indication that the Rotary had a pretty hot event came just moments after guests were admitted to the arts center ballroom. The chefs working with their pans and grills set off the room's smoke detectors and fire alarm.