Gastronomic delights raise cash at Girls Inc. benefit

on September 30, 2009

Crowds gather at the 18th annual Women of Taste event

By Becky Palmstrom and Mary Flynn/Oakland North

Twelve hundred people gathered at the Oakland Museum of California on Saturday night to enjoy fine wine and cuisine, listen to live music, and support a good cause at the eighteenth annual Women of Taste event, hosted by Girls Incorporated of Alameda County. Girls Inc. is a nonprofit that offers counseling services, academic help, and mentoring programs to girls aged 5-18.  In 2007, the organization served 7,000 girls and their families.  This year’s Women of Taste raised more than $160,000 for the group.

Video from the event after the jump.

Saturday’s event was as much a feast for the eyes and nose as it was for the taste-buds: Tortillas heaped with shocking red salsa and deep-brown frijoles, yellow quoinoa and mango salad, mouthfuls of cupcakes stuffed with blueberries and nuts, raspberries dipped in dark chocolate, morsels of cheesecake turned into artwork by bright passion fruit sauce and a plate made of rippled white and milk chocolate. The smell of freshly roasted and carved beef suffused the second terrace, inspiring guests to line up for more. On the upper terrace it was the scent of pesto pizza that dominated; a newly opened pizza business had constructed a temporary oven and beside it one of the volunteer chefs chef tossed pizza dough into the air, before plunging the dough into the belly of the oven and withdrawing it two minutes later, sizzling and steaming.

A live band serenaded guests, who were paying a minimum of $75 a person to sample food and drink donated to the cause by local vineyards, caterers and restaurants. Local artists contributed art-pieces, while famous women such as Nancy Pelosi donated platters that were auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Originally conceived as a way to increase the profile of local female chefs, while also raising money and awareness about the work of Girls Inc., Women of Taste has become one of the largest food and wine events in the East Bay. It was first hosted in the Girls Inc. parking lot, but has gradually expanded to now include over fifty local chefs, restaurants and vineyards.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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