by Liz Thach, MW

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the vineyards and a spectacular sunset view, Paradise Ridge Winery in Sonoma County is not only an ideal location for winetasting, but also as a dinner and special event venue. That is why it was an excellent location for the most recent WOW (Worth Our Weight) charity dinner, dedicated to training at risk youth in culinary skills so they can obtain professional food service jobs.

  Wow Dinner at Paradise Ridge Winery

WOW Trainees with Celebrity Chef Bryan Jones Preparing Salads in Paradise Ridge Kitchen. Photo Credit: L. Thach, 2017


Ten times per year, on the third Thursday of the month, WOW hosts a special dinner with a celebrity chef at a local restaurant or winery. The WOW trainees have the opportunity to work with the chef in preparing a four course meal matched with wines. This month’s dinner at Paradise Ridge Winery featured Chef Bryan Jones of St. Francis Culinary Kitchen, which was voted the number one restaurant in America by OpenTable in 2013 & 2015.


More than 100 guests gathered to feast on the delectable menu of spinach salad with strawberries, white asparagus soup, tomato braised “melt in your mouth” pork, and chocolate pot de crème – each course paired with a wine from Paradise Ridge.


In its 11th year in Sonoma County, California, the WOW program is unique in bringing together wineries and local restaurants to sponsor and support such a rewarding program. Executive Director, Evelyn Cheatham, explains:


“WOW is a special non-profit program that trains at-risk youth to become food industry professionals in a 12 week boot camp. Many of our young adults have faced major difficulties such as homelessness, abandonment, or family disruption. We teach them about healthy eating, sustainable farming, and professional cooking. Even if they don’t finish the program, they still gain valuable skills, such as the ability to cook a healthy meal for themselves.”


Each year the program graduates 15 – 20 students who are placed with local restaurants. For more information about WOW or to reserve your place at an upcoming dinner visit their website,


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