Bits & Bites gives taste of Dallas

Andrea Olan, Managing Editor

From chardonnays to Texas barbecue bánh mì and upside down cheesecake, over 700 attendees were welcomed to an evening of delicate bits and appetizing bites at the annual Dallas College fundraising event, hosted by the college’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program.

Bits & Bites was held April 16 at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s A Tasteful Place. Guests enjoyed a scenic view of White Rock Lake with the Dallas skyline in the distance while tasting various dishes offered by Dallas chefs. Singer Sierra Leone delighted attendees with live jazz music.

Dallas College Chancellor Justin Lonon said he hopes attendees got a sense of what Dallas College stands for and their focus on contributing to the community. “We get to showcase our students, our culinary program, our partners and restaurants from Dallas,” he said. “We want to ensure [Dallas College] students have the opportunity to go into the workforce and get great jobs.”

This year’s event was in honor of Jim White, radio show host and co-founder of Savor Dallas Food and Wine Festival, who died June 4, 2022. His contributions to the Dallas culinary scene are widely known, especially by those who tuned in to his radio show for local food recommendations and unique dining experiences. He was known for “The KRLD Restaurant Show,” and created the Celebrity Chef Kitchen at the State Fair of Texas.

His wife, Vicki Briley-White, was the honorary guest of the evening. She welcomed guests and greeted familiar faces. She invited them to participate in a silent auction to endow a scholarship in their name, the Jim White and Vicky Briley-White Scholarship.

Briley-White said the scholarship will assist Dallas College students committed to the culinary and hospitality industry. “I started this scholarship in my husband’s honor,” she said. “Part of it will be invested so they can give it every year and keep growing.”

Steve DeShazo, senior director of Workforce and Career Connected Learning at Dallas College, said White and Briley-White have contributed to his culinary career. “Every time Vicki and Jim could think of an opportunity to involve students, they called me,” he said. “Without their vision, none of these chef festivals would be as prevalent as they are today.”

During the event, attendees had the opportunity to donate through QR codes to support the college’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program.

Around 30 local chefs, including Dallas College alumni and current students, contributed to the culinary event and served 18,000 plates of food. It was an opportunity for culinary and hospitality students to get a glimpse of the Dallas service industry and create important connections for their careers.

Christopher Ourfalian, a culinary student, said it was his first time participating in Bits & Bites. “We are moving at a pretty quick speed,” he said. “We are having fun. Food is good and networking has been enjoyable.” Before the event concluded, students visited other booths for a taste of other dishes.

Preston Nguyen, a Dallas College alumnus, 2022 World Food Champion and “Next Level Chef” competitor, said his dish was inspired by flavors familiar to his childhood, while adding a Texan fusion to a classical Vietnamese dish – a Texas barbecue bánh mì sandwich. The delicately plated toasted baguette, with smoked pulled pork, pickled root vegetables, Asian aioli and soy sauce pearls on top, was popular with attendees.

“Growing up in Texas, I obviously love barbecue, and my dad is Vietnamese, so I wanted to infuse the two together and try something new,” Nguyen said.

Chef Segundo Romero Victorica, a Dallas College culinary instructor, said his team of students worked on developing their dish for two weeks. “We had been thinking about how we want to present it and also checking the weather. We decided to make something cold,” Victorica said.

They presented a fresh gazpacho with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, celery, beer, a touch of serrano peppers and dill with lemongrass shrimp.

Victorica said he loves Bits & Bites because it is not very formal. “We have people from everywhere and any age from kids to old people,” he said. “It is a family event in a beautiful atmosphere.”