GILROY (KPIX 5) – On Sunday, three weeks after the mass shootings in Gilroy, a fundraiser luncheon for the victims was held.  But this time, the stars of the kitchen were children.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival features a competition between young chefs.  But when it ended in tragedy, the kids decided they still had work to do.

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Sunday’s fundraiser at Fortino Winery focused on the future…the next generation of culinary stars.  Kids, many of them contestants at the festival, prepared mouth-watering appetizers from bacon-wrapped shrimp to pork buns to Addy Dell’s chicken tacos.  She won last year’s festival competition at the age of six.

When asked how she did it she replied, “So, I just focused on my food…and nothing else.”

Twelve-year old Kaiden Gonzales won this year’s youth competition and says kids bring a certain boldness to the kitchen that adults don’t.

“They bring the fun,” he said, “because sometimes your mom’s like, don’t make a mess!  But, you make a mess, you know…that’s all the fun of it, you know?”

Carlos Pineda is now a bona fide local celebrity, having won the Festival’s adult competition for the last three years running.  But the chef and culinary instructor remembers his own career began in an eighth grade home economics class.

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“I burnt the French Toast,” he said, “set off the school alarm I’m like, you know what?  This is my calling!  And so here we are today.”

And then there’s Gene Sakahara and Sam Bozzo who gained notoriety as the local cooking team known as “Chefs SakaBozzo.”

“Notoriety, yeah…INFAMY…infamy’s a good for us, I think, yeah…” Sakahara joked.  Their public cooking demonstrations are usually played for laughs but on Sunday their message about the future was a serious one.

“People have asked us, do you think this is going to hurt and kill the Garlic Festival?  Absolutely not!” Sakahara said.  “We’re not going to let one coward decide the future of Gilroy and the Gilroy Garlic Festival.”

But it is in the hands of the young people that that future…and the future of society itself…will lie.

Organizers say everything going into Sunday’s fundraising lunch was donated, which means 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Gilroy Foundation’s victims and families relief fund.

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