GALVESTON — Galveston College’s culinary arts students will learn from the island’s best chefs next week as they all pitch in to pull off a two-night spectacular celebrating the arrival of spring.

The fundraising dinner, Five Fabulous Chefs: Le Beau Printemps, brings together executive chefs from five of Galveston’s best restaurants to present a springtime feast for adventurous diners, who may choose either a March 25 or March 26 seating.

While the culinary arts students will benefit from the hands-on experience of helping the chefs with their preparations, the event benefits all Galveston College students.

Proceeds will support the Universal Access Endowment created by the Galveston College Foundation. The endowment ensures all Galveston high school graduates can begin Galveston College with initial financial assistance.

Executive chefs from Gaido’s, Moody Gardens, the Olympia Grill, The San Luis and Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar have pooled their talents to create a special springtime menu that features hors d’oeuvres from each of their restaurants and a five-course dinner of soup, salad, two entrees of seafood and beef and an array of innovative desserts.

Chef Paco Vargas and daughter Denise Vargas are preparing an appetizer and soup with the South American flavors of their restaurant, Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar.

“Our appetizer will be a duck confit empanada, followed by a roasted poblano soup with achiote,” Denise Vargas said.

The younger Vargas has a special connection to the dinner.

“I went to Galveston College and used Universal Access to start my college education,” she said.

After attending Galveston College, she earned a business degree from the University of Houston then studied at the Art Institute of Houston’s culinary Institute.

Each chef involved in Le Beau Printemps will be paired with two of the college’s culinary students who will help prepare the food at the restaurants and with serving at the event in Galveston College’s Atrium, which will be transformed for the event into a setting for elegant dining.

From her perspective as a relatively recent graduate, Denise Vargas has advice for the culinary students

“If they asked for advice, I’d tell them to get into a restaurant — go work in one so you know what you’re getting into.”

Chef Ross Warhol, recently hired by Gaido’s to oversee the revamping of the Pelican Club, concurs.

“It’s not quite like they see on the Food Network,” he said.

For the Galveston College dinner, Warhol is making a goat cheese appetizer with roasted red pepper marmalade and a dessert that combines the flavors of white chocolate, garden pea, almond, strawberry, menthol and buttermilk olive oil.

Warhol’s dishes will be a preview of what diners can expect when the Pelican Club opens to the public in April.

“Our menu will be progressive American with a focus on local ingredients,” he said.

He has developed a supply network that includes local farms and meat from Black Hill Ranch near Cypress.

Other items on the menu include a Greek salad from Olympia Grill, snapper and shrimp from Moody Gardens, and short ribs prepared by The San Luis.

The menu came together in just one brainstorming session.

“We’re all good friends,” Paco Vargas said.

At a glance

WHAT: Five Fabulous Chefs: Le Beau Printemps 2014, benefiting the Galveston College Foundation’s Universal Access Endowment

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 25-26

WHERE: Galveston College Atrium

TICKETS: $100 per person

CONTACT: Galveston College Foundation, 409-944-1303 or

Snapper Fra Diavolo


Fra Diavolo Sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil

12 thin rings red onion

12 garlic cloves, smashed

6 Roma tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1⁄4-inch slices

11⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup dry white wine

3⁄4 cup tomato juice

3⁄4 cup heavy cream

8 ounces (about 1 cup) fresh basil, cut into strips

8 ounces tiny shrimp

Salt and pepper to taste

Breading mixture

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1⁄3 cup Parmesan cheese

4 teaspoons garlic powder

3⁄4 teaspoon onion powder

3⁄4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


4 snapper fillets

1⁄2 cup butter

Fra Diavolo Sauce

Heat the oil in a saute pan and add the onion and garlic. Turn the heat to high and add the tomatoes. Cook for a few seconds and add the pepper flakes and white wine. Reduce the heat to simmer. Cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated.

Add the tomato juice and cream. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the basil and shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are thoroughly heated. Season with salt and pepper.

Breading mixture

Combine all the breading ingredients and mix well.

Pat the breading mixture onto the fish. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat and heat until hot.

Add the fish and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Serve the fish topped with Fra Diavolo sauce.

(SOURCE: Recipe from “Gaido’s Famous Seafood Restaurant Cookbook”)

Heirloom Salad


Balsamic glaze

1 cup aged balsamic vinegar


4 heirloom tomatoes

3 fresh mozzarella balls

12 fresh basil leaves or sprigs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Additional basil sprigs

Balsamic glaze

Heat the vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 3⁄4 cup.


Cut the tomatoes and cheese into 1⁄4-inch slices. Cut out any hard tomato cores. Wash and dry the basil.

For each serving, layer a slice of tomato, a slice of cheese and a basil leaf on a salad plate. Repeat the layers twice more.

Garnish with a basil sprig. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of glaze.

Chill leftover glaze in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

(SOURCE: Recipe from “Gaido’s Famous Seafood Restaurant Cookbook”)

Au Gratin Potatoes


3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon salt

1⁄2 tablespoon pepper

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

16 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

Cut the potatoes into 1⁄4-inch strips. Combine the potatoes with water to cover in a stockpot. Bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes; drain. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine the milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl so the seasonings will be evenly distributed.

Combine the milk mixture, cheese and potatoes in a large bowl or deep pan and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the potatoes to individual ovenproof dishes. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

(SOURCE: Recipe from “Gaido’s Famous Seafood Restaurant Cookbook”)

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.