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Dishing in to help out

DEL MAR — As proof that philanthropy never tasted so good, chefs from 18 local restaurants prepared some of their signature dishes for the 15th annual Meet the Chefs of Del Mar, a fundraiser to benefit Casa de Amparo for abused and neglected children.
The April 10 event, held at Hilton Del Mar, included everything from soup to macadamia nuts, with dusted scallops served with sweet corn relish a favorite presented by Poseidon, according to an unofficial survey of tasters.
Also receiving a thumbs up from a majority of attendees were the grilled lamb chops with roasted eggplant salad from owner-chef Randy Gruber of Americana Restaurant. In fact, Jane Diliberto of Oceanside said she grows her own eggplant and planned to use the recipe provided to try the dish at home.
Popular choices also included ravioli — stuffed with lobster and presented by Pasta Pronto and stuffed with butternut squash and served with crushed amaretto cookies from Tommy V’s Italian Chop House. The chilled ginger pea soup with smoked salmon tartar from Amaya at Grand Del Mar was described as “interesting but good” by several tasters.
Other participating restaurants were Brigantine, Del Mar Rendezvous, Hilton Del Mar, Il Fornaio, Jake’s Del Mar, Kitchen 1540 at L’Auberge Del Mar, Pacific Coast Grill, Pacifica Del Mar, Paradise Grille, Red Tracton’s, Sbicca, and Shimbashi.
Pamplemousse Grille created the dessert buffet featuring a collection of confections that included crème brulees, dark and white chocolate truffles, fruit tartlets, beakers of mousse, cookies and artisan cheeses.
In addition to food and wine, the event included silent and live auctions that featured jewelry, vacation stays, a $5,500 wedding package, a $900 bottle of wine and dinner and wine packages donated by more than half of the participating restaurants.
Tickets were $125 per person or $185 for a VIP reception that featured wine and cheese tastings, reserved seating, special drawings and gifts and a performance by Jordan Perez, a 16-year-old pianist who composed and recorded songs inspired by his volunteer work at Casa de Amparo.
More than 300 people attended the event, which raised more than $100,000 in 2010. Organizers expected to meet or exceed that amount this year. Everyone received a booklet that included recipes for all the dishes.
“I love it,” said Maureen Duff, a first-time attendee from Carlsbad who enjoyed the sushi selection from Shimbashi. “It’s a great event and we’re supporting a great cause.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Vista resident Carly Wills, another first-timer who included Jake’s dry-rubbed grilled shrimp and farro salad among her favorites.
Kathy Siegel of Carlsbad said she also liked Jake’s shrimp, but added, “Nothing’s bad.”

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