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Barona executive chef lauded for generosity

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Dean Thomas, executive chef of the Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, was named 2007 Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation San Diego Chefs and Culinarians. Thomas was honored for his contributions to the chapter, outstanding outreach to the local community and passion for developing culinary talent in San Diego.

During 2007, Thomas participated in more than 15 charity fundraising events throughout San Diego, benefiting organizations such as the Epilepsy Foundation, Child Abuse Prevention Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Additionally, he has supported the U.S. Navy with multiple programs such as the "Adopt a Ship" partnership, in which local chefs board Navy ships to mentor Navy culinary specialists, sharing culinary knowledge and industry experience.

"We thank Chef Thomas for his tireless efforts to further the acknowledgement and professionalism of our chapter and culinary industry," said Urs B. Emmenegger, president of the ACF Chefs and Culinarians of San Diego. "He has been instrumental in the growth and strength of the ACF San Diego chapter and for his numerous contributions, he was unanimously voted to receive the acclaimed Chef of the Year Award for 2007."

'Taste of Uptown/Hillcrest'

Experience culinary overload at the annual Taste of Uptown/Hillcrest noon-4 p.m., Saturday, April 19. More than 30 restaurants will be participating in this smorgasbord; tickets are $30 and available online at mcfarlanepromotions.com.

Proceeds of this event benefit the Hillcrest Association to promote Uptown/Hillcrest. Call (619) 233-5008 for more information or visit hillcrestassociation.com

Hyatt announces new hire

The recently revamped Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina recently appointed Prescott Yee as the director of Guest Services and Recreation. Yee will oversee the concierge staff, recreation departments and the VIP lounge for Hyatt Club members.

In addition to managing and training staff, Yee will also develop a new children's seasonal activities-based camp, expected to launch this summer, called Camp Hyatt, for children ages 4-12.

Past accolades for Yee include, Hospitality Employee of the Year from the Hotel-Motel Association and president of the San Diego Concierge Association for two years.

Treasure hunt

San Diego residents have the opportunity to discover the hidden secrets of their city -- on land and off shore -- from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, April 12, during the "Whale of a Weekend Treasure Hunt" presented by environmental artist Wyland and Where you Want to be Tours.

Those who sign up will search the city's rooftop lounges, hotels and hot spots for the chance to win prizes from unique beach-themed gifts, DVDs, harbor cruises and whale-watching adventures. Teams keep score of places they visit and things they see, using photography, creativity, teamwork, strategy and timing.

Admission is $50 per person, which includes the treasure hunt, awards ceremony and prizes for the winning team. For more information call (619) 917-6037 or e-mail tours@wheretours.com.

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