Bits and Bites aids service industry

Pastrami short rib with brussels sprout sauerkraut and house-made grain mustard on marble rye bread from Harper’s restaurant is ready to be served at Dallas College’s annual Bits and Bites April 3.

Brandon Donner, Managing Editor

The aroma of fresh ingredients greeted guests at Dallas College’s Bits and Bites fundraiser. Paired with the cool jazz of local artist Sierra Leone and views of White Rock Lake, nearly 600 attendees were treated to an evening of food and fun.

The annual event put on by the college’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program was held April 3 at A Tasteful Place, The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens’ newest garden. The event raises money for Dallas College’s hospitality and service industry.

The event raised $94,513 by the end of the night. Attendees also had the opportunity to donate while at the event by scanning a QR code. 

Steve DeShazo, senior director of Workforce and Career Connected Learning at Dallas College, said, “Funds raised through this event and other activities are used to provide enhanced Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality student program experiences and increase student and industry engagement, success and persistence.”

The chefs, placed around the picturesque landscape of A Tasteful Place, worked tirelessly to serve all who came to their booth. 

Thirty-two chefs, half of whom are graduates of Dallas College’s culinary programs, alongside current culinary students, were set up to serve 18,000 plates of food to attendees during the event.

Preston Nguyen, 2022 World Food Champions Chef Category winner, and his parents plated his dish – an ancho barbecue pulled pork slider on a fresh rosemary biscuit and Asian pickled veggies on top. People lined up to taste the food champion’s dish. Many congratulated him on winning at Fair Park. 

“It’s a phenomenal experience,” Nguyen said. “There are a bunch of amazing chefs here, a lot of networking. And I really love being able to see all the different cooking styles.” 

Melyssah Colerangle, culinary student, said: “It’s fun. It’s interesting to see an up-close behind-the-scenes glimpse of what goes into putting on an event like this.” Colerangle worked the Monarch Restaurant booth with chef Eric Dryer in the VIP section serving a black truffle risotto with roasted Texas fungus.

Dallas College alumna Thuy-Linh Carroll, of Buster’s Bake Shop, was one of many Dallas College culinary graduates now giving back. She partnered with current students Ainsley Roberts and Nancy Martin to serve delectable lemon-blueberry toast points – lemon pound cake, cream cheese mousse and blueberry caviar. As the only dessert at Bits and Bites, it was a crowd favorite with many people returning for seconds.

Carroll said she loved being able to give back to the program that has helped her find success. “Collaborations like this are so important, not just for the food community, but the community at large,” Carroll said. “A lot of the chefs here serve the community in bigger ways than just food. I know a lot of them go out and help people in need. Food is the vehicle to doing what we want to do to serve the community.”

Leone sang as attendees walked from vendor to vendor trying new dishes. “Absolutely loving it, I haven’t tasted anything that I haven’t liked yet,” Monica Rahel, an attendee, said.

Ilissa Hendricks, an attendee, said, “My favorite dish was the orange-chili poached salmon from Fearing’s Restaurant.” 

Chefs interacted with guests, answering questions about their dishes and describing their inspiration. “I drew inspiration a lot from my childhood,” Daniel Griffeth, executive chef at Harper’s, said. “I grew up in Los Angeles County. We would make trips into the city, and there’s a famous place that sells pastrami with mustard. It’s just a good memory I have with my dad.”

Griffeth served A Bar N Ranch pastrami short rib, brussels sprout sauerkraut, house-made grain mustard on marble rye bread. Attendees picked them up as fast as Griffeth’s team could make them. The thick cut of seasoned pastrami short rib, combined with the sauerkraut and house-made grain mustard, was a tasty combination atop a fresh marble rye to balance the plate.

When students were not working, they visited other booths. “It’s pretty inspiring, seeing how so many chefs can come together and bring people together who love food, a basic need,” Sofia Salazar, a culinary student, said. Salazar worked the Culver’s SteakHouse booth, putting together their cow pig burger with garlic aioli and a butter pickle.