Toast of the Town helps Rocklin schools

Local celebrities create gourmet dinner
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald editor
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Toast of the Town

When: 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3

Where: Sunset Center, 2650 Sunset Blvd.

Cost: $50 (21 and over only)

Tickets:; 390-2648


Raise a glass to learning Saturday at Toast of the Town, a fundraiser for the Rocklin Educational Excellence Foundation.

This is the 12th year for the event, which began as a fundraiser for the city’s teen centers. But when budget cuts closed the centers, organizer Bill McEnroe kept the momentum going, making the event a benefit for Rocklin schools.

“If an event goes away, it never starts up again,” said McEnroe, a REEF board member. “I’ve seen to many things go that route. Or, it’s doubly hard to start it up again. Once you get it going and then flow, then it works out really nice.”

The way the event flows is that guests enter the Sunset Center, where they’ll enjoy wine tasting and student artwork for a couple of hours. The wine is poured by more than 25 wineries, from Calaveras to Nevada counties, including Placer County’s Fawnridge, Lone Buffalo, Green Family and Villa Castellano wineries. For the dinner, Moniz Family Winery has donated wine for each table.

At the dinner, local “celebrity chefs” will dish out gourmet goodness, including McEnroe’s Caribbean chicken in a mango-papaya relish. The amateur gourmet chef said one of the best part of Toast of the Town is tasting the delicious dishes Rocklinites prepare.

“One thing I like about wine tasting is that any bottle I open, I don’t know how it’s going to taste until I actually taste it,” he said. “It’s the same thing with this event. You never know what anybody’s going to serve until you’re actually at the event itself.”

Some of the chefs this year are Bill Halldin, Rick Horst, Ron Lawrence, Diana Ruslin and Robin Trimble. City Council member Peter Hill said he usually serves baked garlic chicken, and has cooked for the event since its inception.

“It’ is a really a great community fundraising event, and it is a lot of fun for people who buy tickets and those who serve,” Hill said. “I think the best thing for everyone is that the proceeds go to a worthy community cause. It makes the whole event worthwhile.”

REEF supports Rocklin schools through many projects, including promoting arts, sciences, technology and enrichment opportunities, according to its website. Recently the foundation brought “Rachel’s Challenge” to schools, featuring a presentation about the dangers of bullying. Upcoming projects, McEnroe said, include efforts to get iPads in all the schools, along with making sites Wi-Fi capable.

“We are so thankful for the work that the Rocklin Educational Excellence Foundation does on behalf of the students of our district,” said Rocklin Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Brown. “The funds will help up keep up with the changing technology so our kids stay current and prepared for the 21st century.”

When dinner is over, there will be a room full of desserts from area restaurant’s including Rubino’s Ristorant and Veneta Rhea’s. The event will also feature a silent auction and raffle for many items, including golf, wine and hotel packages and a week-long stay at a luxury two-bedroom condo in Hawaii.

Hundreds are expected to turn out for Toast of the Town to support the schools and enjoy the evening of wine, art and, of course, delicious food. For some, preparing the evening’s dishes turns into a friendly competition among the chefs. Brown said he’ll prepare a family recipe that combines seasonings from the Azores with spices found only in Italy for a pasta dish that’s a hit this year.

“I regret that I am unable to divulge the secret ingredients,” he said, “but board member Steve Paul has been trying to replicate my pasta and would surely do so if he knew how.”