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Literature-inspired dishes served at May 18 fundraiser

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The San Diego Council on Literacy will host its second annual culinary fundraiser, "Eat. Drink. Read." May 18 at Liberty Station. The council's CEO, Jose Cruz, talks about how this event supports the organization and why fans of good books, good food and drink will want to attend.

Q: What is the mission of the San Diego Council on Literacy, and what population does it serve?

A: The San Diego Council on Literacy provides leadership, advocacy and resources that contribute to greater literacy in San Diego County. Our affiliated literacy programs provide literacy instruction and other services at no cost to 165,000 individuals every year. Services are provided to young people, families, and adults who are lacking in basic literacy skills, or who are at-risk to fail in school due to the challenges related to the educational achievements of adults who are parents and to parenting issues. When parents lack sufficient literacy skills, their children are typically affected, as is the quality of life in the general community and in the business community. We are also working with local healthcare professionals to address low health literacy in our community. Communication breakdowns between healthcare professionals and patients cost all of us billions of dollars every year. Bad things happen when patient literacy abilities, languages, and cultures clash with the literature, language, and culture of the health are system.

Q: How big a problem is illiteracy in San Diego?

A: Approximately 20 percent of the adult population in San Diego County, or 440,000 adults, function at the lowest level of literacy. Somewhere near 66 percent of these individuals are proficient in English and were educated in the U.S. In fact, nationally, 45 percent of adults who are at the lowest level of literacy have a high school diploma. When the parent is the child's first teacher, and that parent does not read, read well, or have books in the home, their children start school at a real disadvantage.

Q: What types of programs does SDCOL offer to help kids and adults learn to read?

A: One to one, small group instruction, and classroom instruction are provided to emerging new readers at libraries, adult basic education program centers, community colleges, school districts, juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, churches, and refugee programs. Book giveaway and read-aloud programs also account for services that are provided.

Q: How did you first get involved with SDCOL?

A: I am celebrating my 25th year of creating and supporting collaborations between literacy organizations statewide, regionally, and locally. I began my career in literacy back in 1985 through the National City Public Library, and came to work for the San Diego Council on Literacy in 1988. I left for five years in 2002 and am now into my fifth year as its CEO. I am having as much fun as ever. Literacy work is so inspiring. Those of us who are engaged in the local literacy effort get to witness how lives and families are changed and how dreams can come true.

Q: Talk about "Eat. Drink. Read." What can people attending expect from the event?

A: "Eat. Drink. Read." features special dishes prepared by our community's best chefs. These dishes are inspired by literature. Attendees will be flanked by rows of chefs who will proudly share their specially prepared and original dishes. We will also have beer and wine and other spirits for attendees to enjoy. There will be a silent auction and a short presentation about the work being done by so many passionate and dedicated community leaders and volunteers. "Eat. Drink. Read." will be the reception event of the year!

Q: What's the chef book-and-dish pairing you're most looking forward to sampling that evening?

A: I'm excited about all the dishes! However, I can't wait to try The Red Door chef Brian Johnston's turkey meatballs and mashed potatoes, inspired by "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" by Judy Barrett. Of course, there will be green eggs and ham, and many more exotic dishes based on favorite books. Come and see!

Q: Do you have a favorite book about food?

A: Sure! The one that comes immediately to mind is "Like Water for Chocolate," by Laura Esquivel. What great recipes you find there -- and it's a great story.

I want to add how excited the chefs are about this event and how much they have had to say about their favorite books, food, and the pride they are taking in contributing to greater literacy in San Diego County.

Find more information at eatdrinkread.com.

Anthology's production manager, Brad Gardner, has received four Emmy nominations, two in the Best Audio category and two in the category, "Director Program: Live to Live to Tape."

These nominations bring Gardener's total to eight. He's won twice and hopes to add to that total when the awards are handed out on June 18 at La Costa Resort. Six of those nominations have come for his work at Anthology.

"I did some research last year and I believe we are the first club ever to be nominated for an Emmy," Gardner said. "It really establishes Anthology as the fines video producing organization out there in the areas of audio and live directing."

Think you have what it takes in ping pong? Check out The Pearl Hotel's fourth annual social and ping pong tournament from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 7.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go directly to the School of Business at San Diego High School to help fund its senior trip to New York City.

There is still limited space available for competitors. Visit thepearlsd.com for more information.

Bringing their sweets to a storefront near you, owner and chocolatier Isabella Valencia of Dallmann Confections will be expanding her wholesale business and opening Dallmann Chocolate Boutique in Del Mar.

The plans are to open their doors in mid to late June of 2011 at the Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar.

"I want to create more than a chocolate retail shop, but a place for people who have a passion for premium, quality chocolate and an interest in learning about it," Valencia said.

Visit dallmannconfections.com for more information.

Karl Strauss Brewing Co. and the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter, are hosting the eighth annual Beach to Brewery Beer and Music Fest on Saturday, May 14 from 2 to 7 p.m. The benefit takes place at the Karl Strauss Main Brewery in Pacifc Beach and includes 22 beers on tap, live local music, and a non-competitive bike ride from the beach to the brewery.

Tours of the expanded brewery and bottling line will be available throughout the event.

To date, Karl Strauss has raised over $800,000 for the local San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation through Beach to Brewery. This year, in an effort to support Surfrider's "Rise Above Plastics" campaign, guests will be given a reusable souvenir cup that will replace more than 1,000 disposable plastic cups at the event. Hands-On Recycling will be on-hand to individually sort the remaining recyclables from trash to divert unnecessary waste from landfills.

Tickets for the event are $25 pre-sale and $30 at the door. Visit karlstrauss.com for more details.

-- jada.thomas@sddt.com

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