Tag Archives: Lifestyle Culinary Arts

Pre-order Thanksgiving food in Santa Cruz county and Los Gatos

Pumpkin pie from ManresaBread, available for pick up in Los Gatos or Santa Cruz Photo credit: ManresaBread

Pumpkin pie from ManresaBread, available for pick up in Los Gatos or Santa Cruz
Photo credit: ManresaBread

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and there are many stores, bakeries and caterers that can help you with prepared food options. These include New Leaf Community Market; see comprehensive article on their offerings  or visit store web site.

ManresaBread is offering advance orders for select items through their website available for pickup. Orders are required 48 hours in advance, and can be placed until November 23 for Thanksgiving (pick up November 25, the day before Thanksgiving). Pre-order a selection of breads, pies, sweet/savory pastries and more for pick up at the 276 N. Santa Cruz Avenue location in Los Gatos. Santa Cruz area residents can also pick up at PopUp (1108 Pacific Avenue) the day before Thanksgiving. Seasonal selections include pumpkin loaf, apple galette, pain d’Epices, and pumpkin pie.

The last day for Thanksgiving orders at Companion Bakeshop is Saturday, Nov. 21. Seasonal items available for pre-order include biscotti, pies such as pecan bourbon, Meyer lemon buttermilk pie, apple, pumpkin, and walnut (the latter two have gluten-free options), chocolate tartlets, maple bacon biscuits, and squash/herb galettes. Call (831) 252-2253 for more information.

The meat and seafood department at Staff of Life has lots of Thanksgiving offerings including pre-orders of organic turkey from Heidi’s Hens, pork crown roast, loin roast, grass-fed and finished prime rib, lamb crown roast. Other selections include Dungeness crab from Washington, seafood platters, and take-and-bake entrees.

Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola has pre-ordering available for a la carte items or packages. However, orders for complete dinners with a Diestel whole or half turkey are now closed (they sold out of pre-orders). They are still offering these dinners but with sliced turkey breast. Vegetarian options such as kale and wild rice stuffed acorn squash (with apricots, cranberries, and more) and butternut squash & carrot ginger soup are also available. Plus, they of course feature their famous bread plus a huge range of desserts such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake or shimmering pumpkin princess (chocolate cake, raspberry jam, pastry cream, chocolate whipped cream, with a pumpkin-shaped shell and a dusting of gold).

For the catering company Lifestyle Culinary Arts, orders must be in by 8 p.m. Nov. 21 and they can be picked up at the Food Lounge at 1001 Center St.; email chef Andrea Mollenauer at andrea@lifestyleculinary.com or call (831) 588-4515 to place order. See menu at Lifestyle’s Facebook page. Selections include whole cider-brined turkeys (stuffed with apples, onions, citrus, herbs), stuffed boneless turkey breast (white meat, ready to roast), and signature cranberry chutney (tart & sweet with a hint of ginger). For sides that will complement Lifestyle’s offerings, chef Andrea recommends Local Harvest Catering. Selections include sweet potato mash, green beans with caramelized onions and toasted pecans, and butternut squash/persimmon soup. See full menu at their Facebook page. Customers need to email orders to chef@localharvestcatering.com by Friday, Nov. 20, and Local Harvest orders can be picked up on Wed. Nov. 25th at Front Street Kitchen. For questions, call chef Denna at (831) 818-8482.

Emily’s Bakery offers items like stuffing, dinner rolls, cakes, and pies (the latter come in flavors like chocolate pecan, pumpkin, and apple). Customers need to place orders by Friday, Nov. 20. Call (831) 429-9866 for more information.

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Chef Andrea Mollenauer wins award and caters 2015 NEXTies

Andrea Mollenauer’s signature rosemary polenta cake with onion jam and prosciutto

Andrea Mollenauer’s signature rosemary polenta cake with onion jam and prosciutto

Imagine one venue that has limitless potential for Santa Cruz community members: you can drink gourmet hot chocolate anytime, eat savory dumplings there on one night, fried chicken another night, and be enticed by many other popup brunch or dinner options. You can throw a private party, host an event for your business, and more. Well, Andrea Mollenauer has brought that vision to life at the Food Lounge, simultaneously serving a community of customers while providing a unique space for local food and beverage entrepreneurs to showcase their creations. And on Friday, May 15, she’s receiving a 2015 NEXTies award for this creativity, innovation, and drive.

“The level of excitement and giddiness I feel for the work I do everyday is hands down what gets me up in the morning and what keeps me at work late most long days,” says Mollenauer. “I do it for the look I see on people’s faces when they experience a dinner or event. I do it for the collaborations I see between chefs in my kitchen. I do it for the breakthroughs I see my young students having in the kitchen and in their lives around food and careers” (Mollenauer teaches the ROP culinary arts program for local high school students). “To have that be noticed in the community and recognized with this award blows me away. It makes me want to do more!”

Mollenauer is also owner of Lifestyle Culinary Arts, which is catering the NEXTies this year. The menu will include her signature rosemary polenta cake with onion jam and prosciutto.

“I catered last year and was asked months ago to cater again,” says Mollenauer. In late April, she found out she was being awarded a NEXTie. Mollenauer was given the chance to back out of the catering obligation. “They asked if I still wanted to cater and I said YES! What better opportunity than to be able to feed the people who are attending, who are interested in the community and celebrating the winners,” Mollenauer says. “I get to thank them with my food and my service, a true embodiment of my passion as a caterer and community-focused food entrepreneur.”

More on the Food Lounge: Located at 1001 Center St. in downtown Santa Cruz, Mollenauer operates the business with partners Cat Hernandez and Sally Kane. When asked to talk about the Food Lounge, Mollenauer’s face lights up; her enthusiasm is palpable: “I see so many conversations and collaborations being forged and resources being shared by chefs utilizing the incubator kitchen. They are helping out at each other’s dinner services, coming to dine at each other’s popups, because they know that’s where the good food is!” Many guests are excited to have a new, vibrant place to come repeatedly for different food on different nights. In early May, one couple even came to six different events in one week.

There are currently nine Food Lounge tenants: Mortal Dumpling, Ty’s Eatery, Kickin’ Chicken, Fogline Farm, Ocean2table, Mutari Hot Chocolate, Lionfish SupperClub, Cardamom Tuesday, and La Marea.

The Food Lounge’s official description? It’s an “innovative community-minded event venue, commercial incubator kitchen, and full-service food hub aimed at fueling, educating, and inspiring Santa Cruz.” Visit scfoodlounge.com to sign up for the email list and/or stay up to date at facebook.com/scfoodlounge.

The full 2015 NEXTies winners list:
Andrea Mollenauer
Martijn Stiphout (Ventana Surfboards co-founder)
Monica Karst (Santa Cruz Socialites)
Paul De Worken (Monterey Bay Murals)
Coffee Zombie Collective (musicians)
Courtney Lashkewitsch, 18 and under category (started her own business at age 18)

Buy tickets for $40 online.

The evening will include the world premiere of James Durbin’s new music video “Santa Cruz.”

As proclaimed on the 2015 NEXTies site, the contributions made by Santa Cruz’s talented, entrepreneurial, and civically minded community are a reason that Santa Cruz is a world-renowned locale. The NEXTies “recognize those who create, build and inspire.” One of the other 2015 winners, Monica Karst, is the founder of Santa Cruz Socialites. This group, as stated on santacruzsocialites.com, is about “Celebrating and promoting women across Santa Cruz County. Nourishing friendships, empowering each other and having FUN along the way.” One goal is to “spark bonds between women who are unlikely to know each other and plant the seed of community.” The Socialites were actually the first group to hold an event at the Food Lounge, back in late January before the Lounge was officially open.

The NEXTies were first awarded in 2010. Four years later, Santa Cruz Next asked Matthew Swinnerton of Event Santa Cruz to take over the NEXTies. As Swinnerton recently told writer Molly Lautamo for an article on the history of the NEXTies, he immediately knew he wanted to bring “…local youth into the conversation. He didn’t want the event to just be a place for those already established in their professions. He wanted to welcome the younger generation — those wonderfully idealistic youth who are still actively searching for their calling in life—to be a part of the event as both attendees and honorees.”

Swinnerton started the wonderful, collaborative series Event Santa Cruz in 2013 to help tell the stories of local businesses and the hard-working people that make these businesses run. I really enjoyed the two Event Santa Cruz evenings I attended (one in 2013 and one in 2014) and I’m excited to see his fresh take on the NEXTies. This vision is already present on social media. Recently Event Santa Cruz and The NEXTies asked a few individuals “What inspires you?” and posted these on Event Santa Cruz’s Facebook page.

A few answers:
“The curious” (Monica Karst)
“Innovation” (Courtney Lashkewitsch)
“Trees” (Cliff Hodges: Adventure Out founder, past NEXTies winner)
“My community” (Tyler Fox, Santa Cruz Waves founder, past NEXTies winner)
“Risk takers” (Analicia Cube of Take Back Santa Cruz!)
“Waking up and seeing the top of grass and not bottom of grass”(Richard Novak of NHS, Inc.)

See you at the NEXTies!

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Friday May 15, 2015– 7 p.m. refreshments, 8 p.m. program

Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Thanksgiving 2014 restaurants & food options in Santa Cruz and Monterey

Pie at Emily’s Bakery

Pie at Emily’s Bakery

It’s the countdown to Thanksgiving 2014, and time to make your reservations if you’re going out to eat! Want to dine in the Santa Cruz or Monterey area? Here are a few restaurants to consider for November 27, 2014. I’ll be publishing more Bay Area options in the next couple days.

Santa Cruz, Aptos & Soquel Restaurants

Chaminade offers a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 6 p.m. The cost is $51.95 for adults, $17.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include roast turkey with orange-cranberry compote, roasted Dijon-crusted lamb leg with mint jelly, butternut squash ravioli with porcini crème, a seafood assortment, gourmet salads, and pumpkin apple soup with toasted pepita seeds. Customers are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County. Participants in the Chaminade’s annual toy drive will be entered into a drawing and there will be three winners with prizes of a 50-minute massage at The Spa, Sunday Brunch for two in the Sunset Restaurant, and an overnight stay for two.
One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz (831) 475-5600

Michael’s on Main is serving Thanksgiving dinner with seatings beginning at 2 p.m. The restaurant will offer a 3-course prix fixe meal for adults ($28) and a special meal for kids 12 and under ($12). The adult dinner features four entrée selections to choose from: oven-roasted turkey, Osso Bucco, pistachio-crusted salmon, or grilled Portobello. The kids’ menu is choice of traditional Thanksgiving turkey, chicken fingers and fries, or macaroni and cheese.
2591 Main Street, Soquel (831) 479-9777

Aquarius is offering a $52 prix fixe three-course menu (a kids’ menu for $24 will also be available). First-course options include kale salad with faro, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and butternut squash vinaigrette, or crispy cauliflower with smoked Marcona almond romesco. Entrée choices include free-range turkey roulade with cornbread and pecan stuffing, persimmon/cranberry sauce, and more, or pan-roasted cobia with candied yams, roasted brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes.
175 West Cliff (at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn), Santa Cruz, (831) 460-5012

Ideal Bar & Grill has a limited holiday menu available all day beginning at 11 a.m. Dishes include a traditional turkey plate for $15.95 and slow roasted prime rib for $24.95. Homemade desserts will include pumpkin pie.
106 Beach Street (at the Santa Cruz Wharf), (831) 423-5271

Sanderlings has a buffet; the price is $44.95 for adults and $21.95 for kids. Salads and sides include Roasted Butternut Squash with frisée, toasted almonds, and ginger-red chili vinaigrette, Roasted Beets and Arugula Salad with Oranges, Red Belgium Endive,
Fennel, Watermelon Radish and Tarragon Dressing, Cheddar-Corn Muffins with Jalapeño-Honey Butter, and Yukon Gold Potato Mash with Caramelized Onions. Entrées include Sage Butter Roasted Turkey Breast with Sourdough, Pear, Shiitake Mushrooms and Red Onion Stuffing, and Rosemary Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with Horseradish Cream and Au Jus.
One Seascape Resort Drive (at Seascape Beach Resort), Aptos, (831) 662-7120

Monterey Restaurants

Anton & Michel Restaurant / $38 adults, $19 kids 12 and under, three-course prix fixe meal, 1 to 8 p.m.
Appetizer choices include butternut squash bisque; everyone gets roast free-range turkey for their entrée, accompanied by cornbread and sausage stuffing, cranberry-port chutney, and more. The regular menu will also be available.
Mission Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 624-2406

Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel / $115 adults, four-course prix fixe menu, 6-9:30 p.m.
The restaurant promises “the traditional turkey dinner taken to new dimensions.” Wine pairings are available for $89 per person.
Monte Verde Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 624-8578

Fandango / $36.95 adults, $16.50 kids 12 and under, prix fixe meal, Noon-8 p.m.
The meal includes duck pate and kalamata olives; Basque salad; dessert; and entrée choice from selections such as roast tom turkey with gravy, chestnut sage stuffing, fresh cranberry sauce, and more, or grilled salmon filet, café de Paris butter, mashed potatoes & garden vegetables.
223 17th St., Pacific Grove, 372-3456

Jack’s Restaurant at the Portola Hotel & Spa / $49 adults, $39.95 seniors, $19.95 kids 6-12, prix fixe meal, 1-7 p.m.
Diners will receive soup (cream of wild mushroom) and salad. Then, turkey and accompaniments (sourdough stuffing, yams, green beans and crispy shallots, etc.) will be served family-style. There will also be a dessert display.
2 Portola Plaza, Monterey, 649-2698

Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse / $26.95, prix fixe meal, seatings from 1-8 p.m.
For the prix fixe meal, appetizer choices include butternut squash soup. Everyone gets slow-roasted turkey for their entrée, accompanied by sides such as chicken apple stuffing and sautéed green beans. Dessert choices include pumpkin crème brulee. A separate, limited menu will also be available (entrees include skirt steak, prime rib, and halibut), as will the restaurant’s sushi bar.
Reservation Road at 3295 Dunes Drive, Marina, 883-9479

Lodge Restaurant at Carmel Valley Ranch / $75 adults, plated Thanksgiving dinner, Noon-8 p.m.
The dinner includes a glass of sparkling cider upon arrival.
1 Old Ranch Road, Carmel, 625-0645

Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands / $95 adults, $45 kids 5-12, four-course prix fixe dinner, seatings from 4-8 p.m.
First course options include warm brussels sprout salad with bacon-cider vinaigrette, dry ricotta, red grapes or winter mushroom bisque & black truffle toast. Entrée choices include slow roasted all natural turkey, buttermilk potato puree, sage stuffing, heirloom carrots, turkey gravy, or dry aged prime rib, white cheddar potato gratin, heirloom carrots, and red wine roasting jus.
120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, 622-5445

Point Pinos Grill / $35.95 adults, $10.95 kids 10 and under, buffet, seatings from noon-6 p.m.
The buffet includes chilled seafood such as Dungeness crab legs, a cheese and charcuterie display, wild mushroom stuffing, sausage stuffing, and baby lettuce salad with persimmon, toasted almonds, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. There will be a carving station with roasted natural turkey, roast beef, and pork tenderloin apple compote.
79 Asilomar Blvd., Pacific Grove, 648-5774

Porter’s in the Forest / prices vary / Thanksgiving menu features a la carte items, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Menu items will include roasted turkey (milk poached breast, fennel, sausage stuffing, fall vegetable au-gratin, cranberry compote, $32), smoked pork loin (bacon lardoons, kabocha squash, charred kale, quince, $33), and sides such as kale, brussels sprouts, garlic mashed potatoes, sausage fennel stuffing, and root vegetable au-gratin ($7 each).
3200 Lopez Road at Poppy Hills Golf Course, Pebble Beach, 622-8237

TusCA Ristorante / $40 adults, $15 kids 5-12, champagne dinner/buffet, seatings from 1-6 p.m.
The buffet price includes one glass of champagne (or sparkling cider) for adults over age 21. Selections include cola and clove studded brown bag ham, traditional herb-roasted turkey, and spiced butternut squash soup. There will be live jazz from 3-7 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, 657-6675

Other options in Santa Cruz & Capitola

There are also a few stores, caterers, and bakeries that can help you with Thanksgiving options; these include:

  • New Leaf Community Market (watch for an article on their offerings soon or visit newleaf.com)
  • Gayle’s Bakery–pre-ordering available for a la carte items or packages. Selections include traditional turkey (free-range Diestel) and buttermilk mashed potatoes, and vegan alternatives such as butternut squash and hazelnut lasagna. Visit www.gaylesbakery.com.
  • Emily’s Bakery— www.emilysbakery.com — offers items like stuffing, dinner rolls, cakes, and pies (the latter come in flavors like chocolate pecan, pumpkin, and apple)
  • Whole Foods Market–read my Nov. 17 article for details
  • Lifestyle Culinary Arts—orders must be in by Nov. 21; email andrea@lifestyleculinary.com or call (831) 588-4515 to get full menu or place order. Selections include whole turkeys, stuffed boneless turkey breast (white meat, ready to roast), and signature cranberry chutney (tart & sweet with a hint of ginger)

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Event Santa Cruz hosts Edible Night at Assembly

Ashby Confections is providing food for Edible Night at Event Santa Cruz

Ashby Confections is providing food for Edible Night at Event Santa Cruz

Interested in food, restaurants, beer, farms, and things of that nature? The November program for monthly speaker series “Event Santa Cruz,” which takes place at restaurant Assembly on Nov. 17, has an edible theme. There will be eight speakers, and it’s almost sold out.

Organizer Matthew Swinnerton, who started Event Santa Cruz in September 2013 to tell the stories of local businesses and the people that make these businesses run, is very excited about the program.  “There is something about an entrepreneur that is involved in the world of food,” he says. “Entrepreneurs usually have a lot of passion, but throw in an entrepreneur that loves food and deals with it for a living, oh man, that is passion ten fold.” He’s confident that attendees will hear some of the best talks Event Santa Cruz has ever had.

Scheduled speakers:

  • Zach DavisThe Penny Ice Creamery, Assembly, The Picnic Basket
  • Andrea Conklin MollenauerLifestyle Culinary Arts
  • Romney DunbarDunbar Productions
  • Tabitha Raquel StroupFriend In Cheeses Jam Company
  • Marci ProloAn Epicurious Lifestyle
  • Annie PautschBrew Cruz
  • Liz BirnbaumIncoming Board Chair, Slow Food Santa Cruz
  • Nesh DhillonSanta Cruz Farmers Markets

Participant Mollenauer says, “I was thrilled to be invited to speak. The very focus and passion I have for my business is our local community and how to feed it great food, so to be asked to talk about that in a room full of community members who are willing to be a part of that delicious conversation makes me smile.” She plans on sharing details about the next stage of growth for her business and how the community can get involved in that.

Speaker Zach Davis is also co-owner of Assembly, the night’s venue. He’s happy to have the program at his restaurant, which opened in March 2014 and continues to draw crowds. “We always imagined Assembly as a place where people would literally come to the table to meet and converse over nourishing food and drink,” he says. “I’m personally excited about sharing the stage with some folks I know and admire for their food expertise as well as their involvement in the community.” He looks forward to hearing about what motivates and inspires them. “For me it’s the people I work and interact with, and I appreciate the opportunity to share a little more about them.”

Matt Ruiz is the evening’s musical guest. Also participating are several local food and beverage vendors, who are providing refreshments for the first hour of the program, during which time guests are invited to come and socialize. There will be dumplings from Mortal Dumpling, and treats from Mutari Hot Chocolate, Ashby Confections, Cardamom Tuesday, Friend in Cheeses Jam Company, and Hush-Hush Kitchen.

Tickets are only $10; purchase tickets online at eventsantacruz.com. There are only 28 tickets left as of Thursday morning, Nov. 13.  There are also a limited number of “annual passes” available for $75. This grants pass-holders admission to 12 consecutive months of events, from now through Oct. 2015, so it’s a $45 savings over the entire year.
For more information call 831-332-8677.

Monday Nov. 17, 2014
6-7 p.m. refreshments, 7-8:30 p.m. speakers
: Assembly, 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz (Assembly’s not open on Mondays, so this event will be held in the main restaurant space)

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz & Monterey County food & wine events this weekend

A scene from Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2010

A scene from Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2010

There are many food and wine events occurring this weekend in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, beginning Thurs. April 10, 2014. Here are a few highlights.

7th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Fest April 10-13
The four-day culinary extravaganza is renowned for drawing top talent. This year’s chefs include Tracy Des Jardins, Hubert Keller, Cindy Pawlcyn, Masahuru Morimoto, Charles Phan, Jonathan Waxman, and Peter Armellino. Past participants have included Jacques Pepin, Eric Ripert, and Charlie Trotter. There are gourmet lunches and dinners, grand tastings featuring wine and food, regular and reserve wine tastings, and celebrity chef cooking demos by Carla Hall, Tyler Florence, and others.  Events are held at multiple venues including The Inn at Spanish Bay and The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
The Inn at Spanish Bay is at 2700 17 Mile Drive. For details go to www.pbfw.com or call 866-907-3663.

9th annual Pinot Paradise April 11-13
Pinot lovers are invited to the event of the season featuring Santa Cruz Mountains wineries, with a Grand Tasting on Sunday, April 13th. There will be 30 winemakers from the Santa Cruz Mountains including Felton’s Hallcrest which will feature the 2012 Santa Cruz Mountains, Barrel Select ($52) and the 2012 Santa Cruz Mountains, Reserve ($64), both of which are made from Pinot Noir grown in Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards. Tickets: VIP Grand Tasting $100, from 12pm-5pm. General Admission Grand Tasting $85, from 2pm- 5pm. Many wineries host events and tastings from April 11-13, including a multi-winery event held at Alfaro from 12-5pm Sat April 12 with Trout Gulch, Lester, Schultze, and more. Visit http://scmwa.com/events.

Santa Cruz Dim Sum dinner with tea pairings April 12
Chef Andrea of Lifestyle Culinary Arts and Chef Noah of Hidden Peak Teahouse collaborate for a unique dinner with handmade dim sum, tea pairings, and family-style dining. I’ve had food from both chefs and highly recommend this event! It’s at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, at Front Street Kitchen, 504-A Front Street in downtown Santa Cruz. It’s $48 per person and advance reservations are mandatory; as of press time there were a few spots left. Contact Andrea 831-588-4515 or andrea@lifestyleculinary.com.

Monterey Chocolate Salon in Carmel April 12
The 1st annual Monterey Chocolate Salon is 11am-5pm. Saturday at the Sunset Cultural Center. Approximately  20 vendors include chocolatiers and confectioners such as Amano Artisan Chocolate, The Tea Room Chocolate Company, and Marich Confectionery, and wineries including Rosa d’Oro Vineyards. Visitors can enjoy chocolate tastings, chef and author talks, more. Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids, and give attendees a specific time to enter the salon. Ticket prices include chocolate tastings.
Sunset Cultural Center is on San Carlos Street at 9th Avenue. For details, go to www.montereychocolatesalon.com

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Live cooking challenge at Santa Cruz museum benefits vibrant high school culinary program

Advanced instructor Andrea Mollenauer and assistant instructor Christopher Stephenson from the ROP program are competing at Fire It Up! on March 1. Photo credit: Karen Lemon (also an ROP instructor--in digital photography)

Advanced instructor Andrea Mollenauer & assistant instructor Christopher Stephenson from the ROP program are competing at Fire It Up! on March 1. Photo credit: Karen Lemon (also an ROP instructor–in digital photography)

Tickets are going fast for “Fire It Up!,” an upcoming Santa Cruz event with a culinary student showcase and a live chef competition, with the fun-sounding evening benefiting Santa Cruz’s vibrant high school culinary ROP (Regional  Occupational Program).

The event is March 1, 2014 at 5pm, at the Santa Cruz MAH (Museum of Art & History). Attendees get to sample 10 student-created signature hors d’oeuvres in the student culinary showcase and are given a “Best of Show” ballot to vote for their favorite. Then they get to see the chef vs. chef entertainment which features Chef Andrea Mollenauer and Chef Christopher Stephenson. There will also be a cheese display and beverage table for guests’ consumption.

Chef Andrea, Advanced Instructor for the ROP Culinary class and the talented woman behind this event, owns and operates Lifestyle Culinary Arts catering and special events company. She also  runs Front Street Kitchen, a community-minded commercial kitchen that houses Lifestyle as well as several delicious, independent food producers including Cardamom Tuesday Silk Road Elixirs. Front Street is the location of the ROP culinary classes too.

Chef Andrea created Fire It Up! for many reasons, including the opportunity to showcase her talented students, spread the word about the ROP program, and create a unique evening for the local community. “It occurred to me that as a caterer and event planner, with the engagement of my community, I could put on a smashing event to benefit the students and the program,” she says. “The intention was to give the students a big opportunity to gain hands-on work experience through the creation of a real work-based event (menu creation and testing, ticket sales and donation requests, event prep and service for 200 people!) — with the added benefit of raising much needed funds for our program.”

Buy your $30 tickets (there won’t be any at the door) or get more information by contacting Chef Andrea ASAP at 831-588-4515 or ropculinarysc@gmail.com.

Event proceeds will go towards classroom materials, food, equipment, and student scholarships for the ROP Culinary Program, which offers career and technical training to Santa Cruz County high school students. Chef Andrea launched this popular program eight years ago to teach students real-world skills in a professional kitchen environment. It provides college-level culinary training for hundreds of Santa Cruz high school students and articulates with Cabrillo College, offering students transferable units. Many students pursue advanced cooking education at Cabrillo College and other schools.

I, for one, am planning to attend! It sounds like a great time, and I want to support this worthy program. I bought cookies from the ROP students at their holiday bake sale in December—the sweets were beautiful and tasty, and I enjoyed meeting a couple of the chefs.

Unfamiliar with ROP? It’s a department of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and provides students with the opportunity to acquire career training and technical skills that prepare them for success in a changing workplace and continuing education.  Read more here.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Fire It Up! location: Santa Cruz MAH, 705 Front St, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival 2014: Here’s what you get to taste!

Snake & Butterfly Chocolate is a vendor at the 2014 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

Snake & Butterfly Chocolate is a vendor at the 2014 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

The 2014 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival is Sunday (1-4pm, Cocoanut Grove) with more than 25 vendors.

Benefiting re-entry student scholarships via the UC Santa Cruz Women’s Club, the chocolate festival is a popular event you don’t want to miss! Read more in this overview article, and keep reading for vendor information and some chocolate sample details to whet your appetite!

Watch for a few more sample details to be published tomorrow.

Snake & Butterfly Chocolate is an award-winning South Bay company that refines organic, fair trade chocolate from the bean. Snake & Butterfly makes small batch artisan chocolate using traditional stone melangers, using three basic ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter and sugar. They do not use emulsifiers or artificial ingredients. This chocolate is then used to create plain and flavored bars, truffles and confections — many suitable for vegans. At the Chocolate Festival, Snake & Butterfly will be sampling a variety of plain and flavored bars (Salt & Almond, Ginger & Nib, Bacon Toffee, Cherry & Chili), truffles, and caramels. The entire chocolate line will be for sale, too. Snake & Butterfly has recently opened their first retail location in Historic Downtown Campbell, where you can find all their creations as well as a collection of other local organic artisan products.

Original Sin Desserts & Catering was founded by UCSC graduate Tanya DeCell. Original Sin will be serving Oaxacan black Mole made with both Guittard and Scharffenberger chocolate. As with all of DeCell’s food, it is made from scratch using all-natural ingredients (locally sourced and organic wherever possible). Original Sin caters both private and business events, with a special emphasis on food and wine pairings.  DeCell is the primary chef for several wineries including Silver Mountain, Soquel, Sante Arcangeli and Wargin Wines.

Lifestyle Culinary Arts, a fabulous local company (read article)  who participates at the festival every year, will have this wonderful treat available:
• Chocolate Mousse Topped Pretzel with Banana Caramel

India Joze, a restaurant that serves delicious food, is attending the festival for the first time and will offer:
• A Filipino pork dish with cocoa sauce, plus (tentatively) chocolate chai and “wok roca”

Alfaro Winery, who also participated last year when wine was included for the first time, will pour:
• 2012 “A” Estate Chardonnay and 2012 Gimelli Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

The Details
Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival
Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz 95060
Sunday, January 19, 2014 from 1-4pm

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz’s Lifestyle Culinary Arts offers tasty Thanksgiving food to serve at home


Lifestyle Culinary Arts' presentation at the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

Lifestyle Culinary Arts’ presentation at the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

Lifestyle Culinary Arts chef/owner Andrea Mollenauer has announced her 2013 Thanksgiving menu, and she’s taking orders until Friday, Nov. 22. See below for menu highlights.

Mollenauer is a graduate of Cabrillo College’s Culinary Arts program, and a talented chef. She also serves as Advanced Instructor for ROP culinary high school classes in Santa Cruz County and sits on the Cabrillo Culinary advisory board.

Email andrea@lifestyleculinary.com or call (831) 588-4515 to get full menu or place order.

Pick-up is Wed. Nov. 27 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. or Thurs. Nov. 28 8:30-10 a.m. at Front Street Kitchen in downtown Santa Cruz (504A Front Street).

Last year Molleanauer shared her Signature Cranberry Chutney recipe with my readers; click here and scroll down for recipe.

Lifestyle’s 2013 Thanksgiving menu highlights:
• stuffed boneless turkey breast, white meat – ready to roast($15.95, serves 2-3)
• whole cider brined seasoned turkey — ready to roast, stuffed with apples, onions, citrus, herbs (18-22 lbs., $50, serves 20-25)
• signature cranberry chutney (tart and sweet with a hint of ginger, $5.95/pint)
• stuffing (apple, sage & dried cranberry $9.95, serves 4-6)
• maple roasted brussel sprouts w/apple pancetta ($11.95, serves 4-6)
• Companion Bakery organic sourdough loaves & Kelly’s Bakery dinner rolls
• pumpkin & pecan pies

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Cranberry chutney Thanksgiving recipe and ready-to-go meals in Santa Cruz


One example of Lifestyle’s beautiful, delicious food: wine-soaked pears prepared for a holiday party

Lifestyle Culinary Arts chef/owner Andrea Mollenauer has graciously shared her recipe for Signature Cranberry Chutney (see below). She’s also taking orders for Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving sides. Mollenauer, a graduate of Cabrillo College’s Culinary Arts program, is a fabulous chef and caterer. Deadline to place order is 8pm Friday, Nov. 16. Email andrea@lifestyleculinary.com or call (831) 588-4515 to get full menu or place order. Pick-up is Wed. Nov. 21 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. or Thurs. Nov. 22 8:30-10 a.m. at Lifestyle’s kitchen at 504A Front Street.

Lifestyle’s Thanksgiving menu highlights:

  • stuffed boneless turkey breast, white meat ($15.95, serves 2-3)
  • whole cider brined seasoned turkey — ready to roast, stuffed with apples, onions, citrus, herbs (all-natural, cage-free, 16-18 pounds, $52, serves 15-20)
  • signature cranberry chutney (tart and sweet, $5.95/pint)
  • stuffing (chicken apple sausage w/pecans & green apple $10.95, apple, sage & dried cranberry $9.95; each serves 4-6)
  • maple roasted brussel sprouts w/pancetta ($11.95, serves 4-6)
  • Companion Bakery bread loaves & Kelly’s Bakery rolls

Recipe for Lifestyle’s Signature Cranberry Chutney


3 stalks celery

2 apples, peeled

1 white onion

½ cup crystallized (sugared) ginger

1 ½ cups cranberry juice

¼ apple cider vinegar

1 ½ -2 cups sugar

12oz. bag fresh cranberries (more if needed or watery.) Note -sauce thickens as it cools.



-Dice celery, apples and onion finely (1/4 inch dice)

-In large saucepan, sauté 3 ingredients until tender but not mushy (approx. 5 minutes)

-Add minced ginger part way through the sautéing.

-Add juice, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil.

-Let simmer to thicken juice slightly (approx. 10 minutes)

-Add cranberries and cook until they have popped and incorporated (approx. 10 minutes)

-Taste sauce to adjust sweetness.

-Remove from heat and let set. Refrigerate to help thicken.


Recipe Courtesy of Lifestyle Culinary Arts, www.lifestyleculinary.com