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POSTED February 22, 2014 1:38 a.m.

Here’s the news flash: University of California Cooperative Extension will play host to Farm 2 School fundraiser. Venue will be the Stanislaus County Ag Center Harvest Hall. Highlight samples: Wine and beer tasting, produce tasting, and a farmers’ market.

Entertainment will be provided by Culinary Arts students in Manteca.

That’s how the selected would-be chefs enrolled in Manteca Unified’s first-ever and only vocational charter school that was formerly known as the Manteca Unified Vocational Academy are being billed for the Thursday, March 6, event.

The evening begins at 6:30.

The Culinary Arts students actually will be participants in an Olive Oil Taste Testing attraction during the fundraiser that promises to be an “enjoyable night with friends and food.”

Cost per person to this limited-space get together is $50. Details and registration are available at or by calling (209) 525-6800. The Stanislaus County Ag Center is located at 3800 Cornucopia Way in Modesto.

The Farm 2 School event is just the latest in the increasingly busy schedule of Culinary Arts students. This past weekend alone, they had two catered events. In the past year, they have also done catering at the San Joaquin County Office of Education and the San Joaquin County Fair. During the Academy open house in January, the students showed off their culinary arts skills and creativity by preparing and serving desserts they made themselves.

A most significant development in the Culinary Arts program is happening this weekend in Santa Cruz. A team of five students in the class have been selected to compete not in the amateur but in the professional division of the 33rd Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off & Festival. There will be two categories in the cook-off: Boston or white clam chowder, and Manhattan or red clam chowder. The Manteca students will be competing in the Professional Boston cooking showdown. They will be entering the original recipe of student Ann Drum. There are 67 entries expected at the cook-off with 26 contestants – the list includes – in the professional division.

Farm 2 School is a national program “through which schools buy and feature locally produced, farm-fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, honey, meat, and beans on their menus … As a result of Farm to School, students have access to fresh, local foods, and farmers have access to new markets through school sales.”

The March 6 fundraiser in Modesto is to help promote the program’s efforts across the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

“We hope a night of fun education on what to do with those ‘unknown’ fruits and vegetable you see in the market will not only further inspire interest to purchase locally grown produce, but also spark curiosity in participating in a Community Support Agriculture Partnership and help grow our program to reach all local schools in our area,” noted Terri Spezzano of the University of California Cooperative Extension in an e-mail to the news media.

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