A Taste for Money

Good taste is what Orange Coast College's culinary arts department is all about.

It was also about things that taste good at Tuesday night's benefit in Costa Mesa to raise money for OCC's foundation, including the cooking program.

Chefs from many of the county's top restaurants gathered at the new Whole Foods Market in Triangle Square in Costa Mesa to prepare signature dishes and support the college.

"You've got everything here," said Robert Stowe of Huntington Beach, who came out with his wife, Caroline, to sample the dishes. "There's Indian, Japanese, Thai, seafood, all really good. We like to come out and see what's offered just in case we want to go" to one of the restaurants.

Among those participating were Il Fornaio, Sage, Pavilion at the Four Seasons hotel, Bistro 201, Buzz and Ho Sum Bistro.

OCC's Culinary Arts program was started in the early '80s and is headed by Bill Barber, a former longtime Orange County chef. He oversees the campus' award-winning Hot Food Team, which prepared dinner for the closing session of Congress in Washington last summer. The team was one of those cooking Tuesday night.

The college offers three programs, including a one-year culinary arts certificate designed to "acquaint students with the basics of cooking." There's also an advanced program intended to put students in the restaurant industry and an apprentice program to give students even more advanced skills if they want to become chefs.

The event also helped OCC's fine-arts programs.

Call (714) 432-5749 for more information on the college.

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