The menu is stellar: asparagus and beet salad, shrimp sauteed with green chilies, slow-roasted Liberty Ranch duck, with wine pairings, followed by spring berry panna cotta with rose water and lavender shortbread.
So are Chef Robert Dorsey III's credentials, which include a stint at Piedmont Avenue's Bay Wolf restaurant and founding Park Boulevard's popular Blackberry Bistro. A Berkeley native, Dorsey got his early training at the now-closed Metropole restaurant on Shattuck Avenue.
The price? $75 per person.
It's the venue that's unexpected: the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, tucked into a gritty part of West Oakland, a triangle formed by San Pablo Avenue, W. Grand and Highway 24, where the patrons are more often the homeless and the destitute of the neighborhood.
The dining room is also home to the Kitchen of Champions culinary training of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Alameda County, the program that will benefit from Thursday night's slow-roasted duck dinner. Trainees will prepare and serve the meal under the direction of Chef Dorsey, who oversees their 12-week course.
The trainees spend half their time preparing and serving the dining room's free meals, the other half in the classroom. Those who finish the course successfully qualify for California's basic food safety certification, required for even entry-level restaurant jobs.
Some trainees go further and qualify for management positions in the food service industry, according to Melanie Diegel, St. Vincent's giving and events manager.
Since 2007, some 200 people have completed the course and more than 70 percent of the graduates have found jobs.
The dining room, meanwhile, serves 800 hot meals to the needy, five days per week, with help from over 1,000 volunteers.
The Guest Chef Series, of which the duck dinner is one, is a major fundraiser for the training program.
Dinner will be served from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14. If you'd like to attend, tickets are still available at svdp-alameda1.eventbrite.com for $75 per person or $520 for a table for eight. For more information, call (510) 877-9254.
You can read more about the St. Vincent de Paul Society and its Kitchen of Champions here and about Chef Dorsey here.