Win a dinner cooked by a Top Chef contender

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Melissa Harrison, a contender on last season's Top Chef, didn't win the big prize -- that went to Hosea Rosenberg, a fellow Big Red F chef -- but now you can win an eight-course dinner that Harrison will cook at your house.

A Harrison-cooked meal is one of the auction items being offered at the April 18 benefit for Parenting Place, a Boulder non-profit celebrating its 25th anniversary. And how did Harrison get involved? The former Centro sous is now working at Happy Noodle House, and "I was approached by one of the patrons," she explains. "I was definitely excited to be a part of this. It really is the least I can do. It's just for a great cause."
And Harrison should be able to put together a great meal, since she's discovered some new tricks at Happy Noodle. "It's been a huge learning experience for me so far," she says. "This is the first noodle house I've worked for, and much different than Centro, where I worked before."

And Centro chef James Van Dyk had already taught her plenty. "I learned more from chef Van Dyk in eight months than I have in the years before combined," Harrison says. "I love the food, the concept and I have a huge passion for Asian food."

She also learned a lot from her stint on the reality show. "I loved the experience on Top Chef," she says. "It helped me grow as a person and as a chef. I made so many new friends from the show, and outside the show as well."

Not that the experience was a relaxing vacation from the kitchen. "It was the most stressful thing I've ever had to do besides opening a restaurant," Harrison recalls. "But I think harder now because of it. It was for the good."

As is the Parenting Place, located at 1235 Pine Street, which offers a variety of child-related services, including parenting classes and early childhood education. To celebrate its 25 years of service, the non-profit will hold a fundraiser at 6 p.m. Saturday at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa at 900 Walnut Street. The night will feature dining at Jill's (the St. Julien's restaurant) and a music by Onda, a Boulder dance band. And then there are those silent auction items.

Tickets for the event are $85 per person and $700 for a table of ten. To reserve yours, go to the Parenting Place's website or call 303-449-0177.

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