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During the spring and fall semesters, the students of El Centro Community College Food and Hospitality Department prepare lunch on Thursdays and invite the public to take advantage of what they, as aspiring chefs, caterers and restaurant owners, are learning in this top-rated culinary program at the school. 

The Westside Wanderers, mostly seniors from Central Christian Church, love to check out the “best of Dallas and surrounding areas” and take advantage of those deals as a small group. They enjoy the $12.00 lunches provided by the El Centro students so much that they are returning on November 15 for a California Buffet.  

What is expected at a California Buffet? We see all around town at grocery stores and farmer’s markets signs that say “locally sourced” and signs that encourage the consumer to “buy local.”  Restaurants promote “farm to table” as the freshest ingredients on their menus. 

One of the first proponents of using fresh, locally available foods was Helen Evans Brown who became friends with James Beard after publishing “Helen Brown's West Coast Cookbook” in 1952. She advocated using produce and spices available in one’s own neighborhood, forgoing poor grocery store substitutes, as well as fresh seafood, caught locally. The book received wide acclaim and became the "template" for what is now thought of as California cuisine. 

California cuisine is typically chef-driven, low in saturated fats and high in fresh vegetables and fruits (which everyone needs to include in their diet) with lean meats and seafood.  The term arose as a result of culinary movements in recent decades. 

If you are a senior, new in Dallas or would just like to make new friends, you are encouraged to join the Westside Wanderers on any of their excursions.  If you would like to dine with them at El Centro, email for more information.  Seating is limited and on a “first come, first served” basis.  

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