Hot cocktails for great charities

South Coast Plaza's Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill hosts a benefit for four local groups.

September 08, 2010|By Joanna Clay,
  • MIXING FOR CHARITY - Representing the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, "American Idol" season 3 finalist Matt Rogers serves a couple Spice Up Your Life martinis he shook up with Serrano chilies during the Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill's "Ultimate Mixer" to kick off the restaraunt's Chile Festival. Half the proceeds from items ordered from the Z'Tejas chile festival menu during festival will be donated to four local nonprofits.
MIXING FOR CHARITY - Representing the Cystic Fibrosis… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Editor's note: This corrects the caption's information about the amount of money donated.

COSTA MESA — Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill might be better known for serving up Tex-Mex meals, but on Wednesday the South Coast Plaza restaurant kicked up its spice to a different level with "Chile Fest, the Ultimate Mixer."

Inspired by New Mexico's appreciation of the chili pepper, every year Z'Tejas combines its special Chile Fest menu with a benefit for local charities, donating a portion of the proceeds to the organizations. This year, four were chosen: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Alzheimer's Assn., Beckstrand Cancer Foundation and the Friendly Center.

The charitable promotion began with a bartending competition, the Ultimate Mixer portion of the event, where representatives from each organization created a chili-infused cocktail.

There were no professionals at the bar, though the amateur mixologists had interesting backgrounds.

Matt Rogers, a season three finalist on "American Idol" and current host of Discovery Channel's "There Goes the Neighborhood," made it out to the Ultimate Mixer to cook up his arbol chili-infused vodka creation. The bright martini had Cointreau, sweet and sour mix, orange juice and the vodka infusion.


Rogers said he was excited to take part in the event as a supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because the cause hits close to home.

"It was a no-brainer because our son has the disease," he said.

In March of 2008, Rogers' son was diagnosed and since meeting the charity at a golf tournament, Rogers has been vocal about the importance of research and finding a cure.

Before mixing his drink he told the crowd, "I'm 100% confident by the time he's 10 or 11 … it's going to be gone."

Tammy Klein, a housewife and bartender for the day, did some research when she was asked to whip something up for the Berkstrand Foundation. Klein discovered that capsaicin, the active ingredient in a chili pepper, is actually a cancer-fighting ingredient. Her drink, Spark in the Dark, was a chocolate concoction topped off with chopped serrano chilies.

The Berkstrand Foundation, which provides financial assistance and resources for people touched by cancer, is an important cause to Klein ever since her family member was affected by the disease and she realized a caregiver was not covered by that person's medical insurance.

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