WATSONVILLE — Chef Jesse Plasencia, executive chef of The Pacheco Club in Monterey, and past board member of Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes, will host a pop-up dinner to benefit the nonprofit food pantry and kitchen at El Alteño Restaurant, 323 Main St. in Watsonville, on Thursday.

Plasencia organized the first “El Alteño Benefit Dinner” in 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. The benefit dinner is made possible by the support of the community. Food donations from local farmers and businesses reduce costs, and local wines are featured. Chefs and volunteers begin preparing the food for the dinner two days prior to the benefit and the use of a mobile walk-in refrigerator is donated, for storage of prepped food. 

On the day of the event, the front- and back-of-the-house volunteer staff is primarily composed of Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes supporters and City of Watsonville employees.

The benefit dinner features two seating times for dine-in or take-out: first seating from 5:30-6 p.m., second seating from 7:30-8 p.m.; express to-go meals available 4:30-5 p.m. The dinner ($60 per ticket) includes a choice of two salads and three entrées — this year, pan-seared salmon, local vegetable lasagna, and roasted bone-in rack of pork. 

In addition, Plasencia and his team — this year, including Chef Tene Shake and Chef Patrick Sigler — offer hand-crafted appetizers and desserts, priced at $7 to $12 each.

All food proceeds benefit Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes’ food pantry and lunch programs, serving local families and individuals struggling with hunger.

“Jesse and his wife Marcela Tavantzis are fabulous hosts of this fun event,” said Executive Director Brooke Sampson. “We are so appreciative of their continued support of our organization. We also thank the owners of El Alteño for generously donating the beautiful restaurant space again this year, to make this event possible.”

Event information and tickets ($60 each, including salad and entrée) are available online at www.pvloavesandfishes.org/elalteno. The full menu is available on the event website.

For information about the benefit dinner or Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, contact Sampson at 722-4144 or visit www.pvloavesandfishes.org.

Loaves and Fishes has served the hungry and homeless people of the Pajaro Valley community year-round since 1989. To donate, send a check to 150 Second St., Watsonville CA 95076 or visit www.pvloavesandfishes.org to make an online donation.

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