Auburn’s Celebrity Chefs take the spotlight

Local gourmets cook for community
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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Foodies looking for a variety of delicious dishes prepared by friends and community members would do well to attend Celebrity Chefs Cooking for Community Service, presented March 1 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds.

Local cooks – professional and casual – will gather to present their creations, and for $15 hungry attendees can get their fill.

“We’ve got pizza, we’ve got sushi, we’ve got sandwiches, we’ve got desserts, soups, chili – you name it, it’s probably there,” said LindaLee Talso, co-chair of the event with Paula Mosqueda.

One of those savory dishes will be made by Bill Pfaff, who has been a Celebrity Chef since the event’s inception. The 94-year-old Auburn resident and former Journal publisher has made a variety of dishes for the event, but began making la-sagna exclusively 15 years ago after it proved a big hit with attendees. In fact, he said, at one event he almost didn’t get to try his own lasagna.

“You make quite a bit, so you have enough for most people,” Pfaff said. “Ours ran out by halfway through, so I just started going around and eating somebody else’s!”

Another hit each year is Gail Stout’s seafood chowder, served by the chef and her husband, Tom, owners of Mary Belle’s Restaurant in Old Town Auburn. Tom Stout, a 49er Lion, said the recipe was born a few years ago when clam chowder was on the menu at the restaurant, but there were no clams to be found.

“We had salmon, we made salmon chowder, and we’ve never made clam chowder since,” Tom Stout said. “People go absolutely nuts over it.”

Celebrity Chef is a family friendly event, and there will be a no-host bar and live music by Worth the Trip.

Celebrity Chef started out as a political fundraiser for AnnaBelle McCord, who was running for City Council. The event, now in its 26th year, is now presented by the Auburn 49er Lions Club as a fundraiser for an area nonprofit. This year, that charity is the Forgotten Soldier Program, which offers free assistance to men and women who have served their country. Services include life direction and nutrition consultation, marriage and family counseling, massage therapy and more. Three Days of Healing have been held in Auburn at which the 49er Lions have provided lunch for veterans and their families.

“Their being at the events enabled them to see the work we offer the veterans, and the Lions gained a full understanding of how lives were being changed,” said Donna Arz of the Healing Light organization and founder of Forgotten Soldier. “This is a huge compliment to the Forgotten Soldier Program and again demonstrates the 49er Lions’ legendary generosity.”

Tom Stout describes Celebrity Chef as “a community meeting place as much as it is an eating place,” and that it is wonderful to see old friends while enjoying great food for a good cause. Gail Stout agreed, adding that she looks forward to the live big band music along with tasting all the different types of food.

“It’s just about the biggest smorgasbord this side of Reno that you can get into for 15 bucks,” Tom Stout added.


Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at



Celebrity Chefs Cooking for Community Service

When: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, March 1

Where: Placer Building, Gold Country Fairgrounds, Auburn

Cost: $15

Tickets: Available at the door and in Auburn at Golden Swann Jewelers, 881 Lincoln Way; Mary Belle’s Restaurant, 1590 Lincoln Way; Sun River Clothing, 1585 Lincoln Way; Auburn Justice Center – Probation Department, 2929 Richardson Drive (see LindaLee); Chamber of Commerce, 601 Lincoln Way; Healing Light Institute – Forgotten Soldier, 991 Lincoln Way (Monday-Thursday)

Info: Call (530) 863-7503 if you have questions about the event, or to sign up to be a chef.




Gail’s Seafood Chowder

Created by Gail Stout of Mary Belle’s Restaurant


Three strips bacon, diced

One small onion, diced

Two carrots, diced

Two stalks celery, diced

Two small potatoes, peeled

Three cloves minced garlic

8 ounces each tilapia, shrimp and clams

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon each oregano, parsley and basil

2 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups chicken stock

½ cup flour

1 cup water

1 cup heavy cream

In a 6-quart pot, simmer bacon, onion and pepper for three minutes, then add celery, carrots, potato, garlic and olive oil. Brown for about three minutes, then add herbs and stock. Cook for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Mix flour and water to make a slurry. Pour through a strainer, stirring for one minute. Add heavy cream and serve. Makes eight to 10 portions.