They represent the city’s best and brightest in the art of pastry. Several are former Girl Scouts. Together, a total of eight local women pastry chefs will compete at the Dessert Before Dinner gala, the annual fundraising event benefiting the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.
This year’s extravaganza takes place Saturday, Sept. 9 at Caesars Palace from 6 to 9:30 p.m. More than 700 of the city’s top influencers and community leaders are expected to attend.
The list of this year’s participating chefs (in alphabetical order) follows:
- Chef Brittany Castro, Paris Las Vegas A first-time participant, Castro is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, where she was drawn to the art of pastry for its precise and scientific nature. Always up for a challenge, her favorite pastry creation is the canelé because it is especially difficult to make.
- Chef Brigette Contreras, STK at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas A returning chef, she is also a former Girl Scout, and was a Brownie while growing up in Southern California. When it comes to creating desserts, she lets her palate guide her, noting that if she loves her food, her guests will too.
- Chef Michelle Flores, Caesars Palace A returning participant and last year’s third-place winner, her favorite treat to make is cookies. She believes in putting as much “love” as possible into her desserts.
- Chef Kristen Hutton, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill Another first-time participant, Chef Hutton studied at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute, but first realized her love for pastry while studying as a neuroscience major. She found happiness while being in the kitchen with her mother as a child and ultimately discovered she needed to change her career path to be fulfilled. Hutton believes patience, attention to detail and enjoying the process is the key to a happy career.
- Chef Mei Shimizu, Aria Resort & Casino A first-time participant, she is no stranger to dessert or Girl Scout cookies—her favorite being the Samoa. “Cooking in general has a way of hitting all of your sensory notes and there’s something very primitively pleasing about it,” she says.
- Chef Elizabeth Stolarick, Wynn Resorts A returning participant and last yearâ’s second-place winner, she has loved cooking and baking since she was a little girl. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. Her favorite dessert is cheesecake.
- Chef Adrienne Toward, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Another first-time participant, she graduated from Johnson & Wales University having studied pastry arts and food and beverage management. If she didn’t enter the baking world, she would love to be an art teacher.
- Chef Cynthia Werth, Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower She is the only chef who has competed every year since the event began nearly 10 years ago. Chef Werth has won the competition twice. She has also placed second and third. She believes in using the best ingredients possible because it never pays to “skimp.”
Now established as one of the city’s most exciting fundraising events, Dessert Before Dinner brings these chefs together to create the ultimate confection incorporating the beloved flavors and classic ingredients of this year’s chosen signature Girl Scout cookie, the Girl Scout S’mores. Guests will indulge in the chefs’ imaginative S’mores-inspired desserts before the first course is even served, then cast votes for their favorite sweet concoction. The top three winning chefs are announced and presented with medals at the end of the evening.
In addition to the chefs’ competition, an array of the city’s most high-profile women will be honored for being incredible role models and paving the way for success for future female leaders in Southern Nevada. They will also receive honorary badges, selected specifically for them based on their own professional and philanthropic achievements.
The honorees are listed below, along with the badges they will receive on Sept. 9:
- Debbie Creel, Think Big badge
- Souzan El-Eid, MD, FACS, S.T.E.A.M Advocate badge
- Nazanin Ford, Visionary badge
- Shelley Gitomer, Trailblazing badge
- Nancy Houssels, Ambassador of the Arts badge
- Trina Pascal, Philanthropist badge
- Sonja Saltman, Power of Community badge
- Melinda Sheckells, Social Innovator badge
Gala proceeds will continue to lay the foundation for all girls in Southern Nevada to become tomorrow’s female leaders. In addition to funding scholarships, proceeds enable the organization to reach girls in all demographics and areas of the community as well as expanding upon current programming such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), social values and financial literacy.
Most importantly, support for Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada helps encourage girls to embrace imaginative and innovative approaches to everything they do—with the goal of creating a better world for all.
The price for individual tickets begins at $400, with table sponsor levels available at $4,000 for Bronze, $6,000 for Silver, $10,000 for Gold and $15,000 for Platinum. Click here to purchase tickets.
Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls of all ages and serves more than 6,000 youth and adult members throughout Southern Nevada. The organization seeks to help girls and young women build character and develop the life skills for success in the real world and is a part of the Girl Scouts of the USA, the nationwide organization that has helped girls discover the fun, friendship and power of girls together since 1912.