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Celebrity chefs get ready for Saturday's culinary extravaganza

Blue Goose fundraiser begins at 5 p.m. May 17
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Recipes are being reviewed and sacks full of groceries are being purchased this week in preparation for the culinary extravaganza known as Celebrity Chef. Seventy-five chefs, caterers, celebrities and community cooks have signed on to feed 350 guests at the annual fundraiser that begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 17, on the grounds and in the various spaces of the historic Blue Goose Fruit Shed. Proceeds from the dinner will be used by the event sponsor, the South Placer Heritage Foundation, to continue its fruit shed renovation project. This will be the third year Garrick Gookin, the Edward Jones investment representative in Loomis, has prepared a dish to serve at Celebrity Chef. This year he’ll be cooking balsamic chicken with portobello mushrooms. Gookin said he “loves to cook.” He describes himself as a weekend cook, who likes to make Cajun food and barbecued ribs and brisket. “I like all-day meals, like all-day chili and soups,” he said. In addition to supporting the Blue Goose project, Gookin belongs to the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce and Loomis Lions Club. He feels Celebrity Chef is a good fundraiser, where he gets to “meet nice, new people and be part of the community.” Most importantly, Gookin said, “Food makes people happy and I like to make people happy.” Chris Hebard-Summers, who owns Hebard Insurance, has been participating in Celebrity Chef for at least 10 years, when, she said, “We used to stand in the dirt by the old fruit shed.” The dinner is like a reunion for the lifelong Loomis resident. “You get to see all your friends and people I’ve known forever,” she said. She’ll be serving chicken breasts with rice again this year. It’s a popular dish, which means her “duty” will go fast and she has a chance to sample the dishes of other cooks. “It’s fun when you run out of food really fast, because they really like it. I’m usually done quickly,” Hebard-Summers said. According to Dot Shiro, who heads chef coordination on the Celebrity Chef committee, each chef is asked to provide sample-size servings for 60. In return, they get a dinner ticket, compliments and applauds from diners, and thanks from organizers for their community spirit. The $25 admission ticket allows diners to try as many dishes – which will include entrees, salads, hors d’oeuvres and desserts – as they like. Tickets can be purchased at Blue Goose Produce in the fruit shed, at Main Drug Store, or at the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce office. Reserved dining, which includes dinner and special amenities, is also available in the event hall. A table for eight is $600; seating for four is $300. To reserve a table, call Cheryl at 652-4480.