Plates Café in Sacramento is hosting Grange Restaurant & Bar chef Oliver Ridgeway tonight for the café's monthly Guest Chef Dinner. The event is a fundraiser for St. John's Shelter Program for Women and Children, which "assists families in transitioning from crisis to self-sustainability."

According to the St. John's Shelter website, the program is Sacramento’s only shelter focused exclusively on supporting homeless women with children: "Since 1985, the program has provided a safe and supportive haven to more than 25,000 displaced homeless women and children."

Opened in June 2010, Plates Café and Catering Project was created to train the shelter's clients for careers in the food service, catering, retail, and hospitality industries. Learn more about Plates Café in this video.

Plates Café: Extraordinary and Surprising

People often dine at Plates Café with the knowledge of its mission to help homeless women get back on their feet – only to discover that the food is extraordinarily good. Run by Stuart Edgcombe, a popular and well-regarded Sacramento chef, the café's kitchen produces beautiful dishes that are reasonably priced.

I was there in April and had the roasted beet salad with arugula, goat cheese, grapefruit, and pickled onions. Not the fare one might expect at a cafe run by a homeless shelter. Chef Stu (whom I worked for at River City Brewing Company many years ago) is preparing his employees for the job market by teaching them marketable skills they would not acquire in, say, a fast-food operation.

Sacramento Chefs Make Guest Appearances

The monthly Guest Chef Dinner is a collaboration between Plates Café and local Sacramento restaurants. Last month, for example, featured Biba Caggiano of Biba Restaurant, and I heard it was extremely popular. Tonight, Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange is presenting a three-course dinner with asparagus and fried green tomatoes, smoked pork tenderloin with black pepper gnocchi, and strawberry shortcake.

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to it.

Filed under Nonprofit, Restaurants