Before she and her mother opened La Dolce, pastry chef Kirstie MacVean studied with chef Greg Mueller. She was a recent college graduate, and he worked at Green Boundary Club.

Now, they will reunite this Friday to be part of Helping Hands’ 10th annual A Chef’s Extravaganza. The theme for this year is “Around the World in One Night.”

The menu items are a “reflection on the last nine years,” said Carmen Lundy, Helping Hands executive director.

Past years’ themes have been South American, northern Italian and, even, Southern cuisine – “because we are our own country,” Lundy explained with a laugh.

The premiere event was held on June 18, 2004, according to the organization’s website. Two chefs from the first year’s event are returning for this year’s milestone – Brandon Velie and Larry Carl.

Velie, then with the Green Boundary Club, helped start the event, according to Lundy. He now works at Juniper in Ridge Spring.

Carl, who works at Trinity on Laurens, is the reason MacVean got involved this year.

“He came and asked if we would be interested,” she said.

MacVean owns the La Dolce cafe with her mother, Tea Master Lady Kelly MacVean. Kirstie is also the cafe’s executive pastry chef.

This will be her first year with A Chef’s Extravaganza, she said.

Before you get to taste her entry, though, you have seven other courses to sample.

Starting off the dinner is Patrick Carlisle from Newberry Hall with his hors d’oeuvres followed by Keith Herron from Up Your Alley Chophouse with his Pan Roasted Cod meal.

Bruce Huckabee from Trinity on Laurens will have a orange-scented gazpacho. Jason Tufts from Green Boundary will dish out a wild mushroom and duck confit tartlette and a ginger peach sorbet. John MacDonald from Woodside Plantation Country Club and Clayton Knapp from Augusta will cook up a tamarind glazed medallion of Grouper.

Then will come MacVean, Mueuller – now with Doctors Hospital of Augusta – and Carl with a flourless chocolate cake, bon bons and a chocolate Grand Marnier Baked Alaska.

At 6:30 p.m., a cocktail half-hour will begin. During that time, the bar will be open. Wine provided by Plum Pudding Kitchen Store be served with all main courses.

Dinner will start at 7 p.m. There will be a silent auction and live entertainment by local band One A’chord.

Midland Valley High School culinary students and Helping Hands children will help out before and during the event. Dress is black tie optional.

Cost is $100 per person with all proceeds benefiting Helping Hands.

Seating is limited, so making reservations are recommended.

The dinner will be served by and at Woodside Plantation Country Club, which has hosted the event since the beginning.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 803-648-3456.

Helping Hands is a nonprofit that aids child and young adults who are victims of abuse, abandonment and/or neglect.

For more information, visit

Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.

Want to Go?

Helping Hands’ 10th annual A Chef’s Extravaganza

Friday, dinner at 7 p.m.

$100 per person

Call 803-648-3456 or visit