The Dining Divas: The Oak Cafe


Guests: Cheryl McVey, marriage and family therapist; Susan Forbess, employment training manager at UC Davis Human Resources; Jeanne Reaves, River City Bank director and chair of the American River College Culinary Arts Capital Campaign; Jackie Grebitus, community supporter and guest Diva

: The Oak Cafe, 4700 College Oak Drive on the campus of American River College; (916) 484-8526
Benefiting organization: Sacramento Division of the American Heart Association

1-second review
: “Excellent experience, fun atmosphere,” said Cheryl McVey.

: Busy and bustling, with student artwork adding color and interest

Menu: Weekly menus follow a theme chosen by the students. The theme on the day of our visit: the movie Julie & Julia. Our favorite dishes were the French onion soup, pâté de canard (duck pâté) and tarte normande aux poire (pear tart). Also on the day’s menu: mussel salad, boeuf bourguignon and Reine de Saba (chocolate almond cake).

Wine time
: Wine is not available right now, but it will be when The Oak Cafe expands. (Funds currently are being raised to expand the cafe from 500 square feet to 2,000 and to add more classroom space and a retail bakery.) Brian Knirk, director of ARC’s culinary arts and hospitality management program, and his staff are anticipating that day by holding tasting sessions. We were treated to wines from a recent tasting: Rail Bridge Cellars 2004 Lattice (a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc) and Bogle Chardonnay.

Need to know: The Oak Cafe is a laboratory for the school’s culinary and dining room management students.
Students plan, prepare and serve the food, bus tables, greet diners and wash dishes. Our server and busser, respectively, were Mikayla Carpenter and Ryan Gonzales. (Gonzales was quick to clean up a water spill.)
Be aware: Reservations are a necessity, and parking is tough.

Quote of the day
: Diva Paulette Bruce heard Diva Joan Leineke say: “I always feel like I should read the
dictionary before I come to a Divas lunch so I have something to talk about.”

Repeat customer: The Divas send a big thank-you to Jeanne Reaves for the numerous times she has been top bidder for Lunch With the Divas.

The Dining Divas—Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall—have been wining and dining together since 1993. Every month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $320,000 for local charities and nonprofits.