BRENTWOOD -- Gourmands are invited to savor expert cooking this month at the fourth annual Dinner in the Orchard.

The feast is 5:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 24 on a 10-acre spread at 8091 Balfour Road, Brentwood, where participants will dine under apricot trees as a jazz quintet plays.

Tickets, which are tax-deductible, are $60 adults and free to children under 12. To order, call 1-800-800-5373 or go online at http://communityfarmkitchen.org/

The deadline is Aug. 18.

Prepared by two gourmet chefs, the menu features an array of appetizers, entrees and desserts from crostini topped with figs and mozzarella cheese to braised short ribs, parmesan chicken, and apricot and peaches served with spiced honey over vanilla ice cream.

The event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Tess' Community Farm Kitchen, a fledgling organization that promotes the importance of people incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into their daily lives.

Proceeds from the event will go toward purchasing kitchen "smallware" -- commercial quality tools such as pots, pans, convection ovens and microwaves -- with which the nonprofit's founder Barbara Frantz intends to stock a community kitchen.

The facility, which will be housed in a barn that the Discovery Bay attorney wants to build, will serve as a classroom for people who want to learn how to include more fresh produce in their meals as well as a lab where entrepreneurs can experiment with recipes they're developing.


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-- Rowena Coetsee