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A plethora of culinary talent gathers for an amazing ECOLIFE® Gala Event

David Boylan

The innovative and delicious bacon wrapped quail at Blue Ocean
A recent ECOLIFE® event conveys an example of the idyllic setting. Photo ECOLIFE®

Something about culinary talented collaborating for a great cause in a non-restaurant environment always works for me. Trey Foshee from George’s at the Cove and Galaxy Taco told me about this event so I followed up with ECOLIFE's® Gala Event Planner and Coordinator Janai Bashore to learn more about this fabulous sounding event.

LTP
You have a great mission statement that reads, "Conservation Beyond Boundaries, Beyond Politics, Beyond Limits, But Not Beyond Reach”. Tell me about ECOLIFE® and it’s primary purpose and who it benefits.

Janai
ECOLIFE®'s mission is to integrate adaptable solutions to global habitat imbalance by actively strengthening and preserving the vital connection between people, wildlife and the ecosystems on which we all rely.

As critical imbalances around the world endanger delicate cultures and resources, we stand committed to actively providing simple, creative, and culturally adaptive solutions to correct them. We’ve seen many conservation efforts become ineffective by becoming confrontational. But we understand that our supporters want to make a difference that’s true and lasting. That’s why, as ambassadors for both natural and human cultures, we are unwaveringly dedicated to adaptable and integrative sustainability by way of education, and to helping leave the tiniest footprints as we make greater strides toward healthier natural communities.

Our two main programs are aquaponics (at home and in the classroom), a sustainable agriculture technique, and fuel-efficient cook stoves. In the past three years, we have supported over 400 classrooms, reaching thousands of students. We also hold monthly workshops about using aquaponics at home. Since this gardening technique uses 90% less land and water than traditional farming, it is growing in popularity through out our parched state. Cook stoves in Mexico and Uganda: Making dinner shouldn’t be fatal, but millions of people in the developing world die each year from illnesses connected to inhaling smoke from open cooking fires in their homes. For every $150 donated towards our stove program, ECOLIFE® builds and installs a highly efficient wood burning stove and enters the stove into a health and monitoring system. ECOLIFE® works: The Patsari stove is 60% more fuel-efficient than cooking over the traditional open fire and reduces respiratory ailments by at least 35% by decreasing hazardous smoke emissions. The fuel efficiency of the stove means that 60% less wood is needed and, consequently, fewer trees are destroyed.

LTP
You have some serious culinary talent participating in this event, tell me about who you have this year and their affinity for ECOLIFE®

Janai
We're extremely fortunate to have a close relationship with Trey Foshee from George's at the Cove and Galaxy Taco. In 2013 we partnered with him to create a team of chefs to prepare the meal for our gala and it has become a tradition ever since. Every year we have grown in attendance so we have added chefs. Both Trey and Jason Knibb from NINE-TEN have been a part of our lineup all three years. Matt Gordon from Urban Solace, Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, and Sea & Smoke, joined the team last year and was happy to help again this year. We're excited to welcome Jason McLeod from Ironside Fish and Oyster and Fabian Gallardo from Petty Cash Taqueria in Los Angeles. We are also very lucky to have Christopher Kostow from The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley to create the canapés for our VIP cocktail. Chef Kostow has been awarded three stars from the Michelin Guide in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. I really can't say enough about these chefs. Not only are they taking time away from their restaurants on a Saturday night, they are also completely donating their time and the food they create. I think what draws them back each year is the fun environment and the chance to come together and work as a team.

LTP
Are the chefs collaborating on the dinner or will they each be contributing their own dishes?

Janai
Each of the chefs will be creating their own dishes but have come together to create a menu that will work cohesively. There will be three courses after the canapés during cocktail hour. The first and second course will both be plated and served to each guest at their table. The third course will be served family style at each table.

LTP
The event has a Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead theme. Are you encouraging attendees to come in costume and makeup?

Janai
We are definitely encouraging our guests to dress in Dia de los Muertos theme! Each year of the past few years, we've decided to pick a theme and our guests have really embraced it. They welcome the chance to dress up instead of sticking to the typical black tie or cocktail attire.

LTP
There is a musical element to the event as well, tell me about that

Janai
The entertainment will be provided by the AP Latin Jazz Ensemble. This dynamic group of musicians is led by Allan Phillips. Allan is a Multi-instrumentalist, Venezuelan born, of African descent. Allan's raw, energetic percussion, keyboard, wind, string and vocal performances have him in high demand for live as well as studio engagements. Every year we have a great time on the dance floor after dinner and this year we'll be salsa dancing the night away! We're lucky to also have a couple that has volunteered to teach a few salsa moves so that everyone can participate in the fun.

LTP
When and where is the event taking place and how can people get involved?

Janai
The event will be held on a private property in North Escondido (address provided upon registration) on Saturday, October 24th. The VIP cocktail (additional purchase) will be held 4-5p with the main event 5p-10p

Learn more about the gala, aquaponics workshops, and our programs on our website www.ecolifeconservation.org/gala

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