Nearly 30 restaurants pitch in for the inaugural Taste of St. Joseph Center

By Jacqueline Fitzgerald

Blue Plate Oysterette is bringing its A game

Here’s a gourmet way to support a worthy cause and have a great time: Get your crew together next Thursday (Feb. 28) and head to Playa Studios in Culver City for Taste of St. Joseph Center.

This inaugural food and drink festival is a fundraiser to support the nonprofit’s culinary training program, a unique vocational curriculum that teaches cooking skills to formerly homeless and low-income people so they can find food-service jobs. Part of the training is externships at restaurants and hotels, and the program boasts a solid success rate: Patti Reiss estimates more than 85% of students get jobs.

“I feel in love with what they were doing,” says the event co-chair, whose Reiss Co. properties include A-Frame, Alibi Room, Salt Air, Sunny Spot, The Brig and Vito’s Pizza. “The program is so great and sustainable, and it depends 100% on donations.”

The event honors Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts (creators of Playa Provisions, The Tripel, Da Kikokiko, Hudson House and Small Batch Ice Cream) as chefs of the year for exemplary community service. During the festival, Williamson and Roberts will host a cooking demo and showcase offerings from Da Kikokiko, their Playa Vista poke shop.

In total, nearly 30 restaurant and beverage sponsors will present samples of signature fare. Other highlights include omusubi from Sunny Blue, Tony Montana Corn from Art’s Table, oysters from Blue Plate Oysterette, Roy Choi’s Kogi BBQ, kale salads from Sunny Spot, and Fajita Del Rey bowls from Tocaya Organica. Beam Suntory is providing specialty cocktails crafted by Playa Provisions’ lead bartender, and Angel City Brewery and Pali Wine Co. will offer beer and wine samples.

St. Joseph Center culinary training program students will run cooking demos during the event, and Sky the Artist will deejay.

Taste of St. Joseph Center happens from 6 to 10 p.m. next Thursday (Feb. 28) at Playa Studios, 11260 Playa Court, Culver City. Tickets are $99 (group rates available) at