Youth Home’s The Next Course: Meet the Chefs

Youth Home hosts its annual foodie fundraiser, The Next Course, at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on November 3rd. This unique, culinary dining experience takes amateur and practiced foodies to new heights as they enjoy five courses complete with professional chefs’ tips and instruction on how to prepare the next course. Guests take home a book of the night’s recipes to recreate their favorite dishes. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with reception featuring wine, beer, hors d’oeuvres, with a formal dinner to follow.

In preparation for the big event, we are featuring the five hosts for the evening – the expert chefs instructing and cooking each course!

Gilbert Alaquinez – Executive Chef, Clinton Presidential Library

Gilbert is originally from San Antonio, Texas where he started his cooking career at the age of sixteen. In 2005, he moved to Little Rock as the Executive Chef of Alltel Corporate HQ. Gilbert has been with the Clinton Center for three years. Chef Gilbert’s culinary talent has been featured in several magazines and articles in and around Central Arkansas.

Inviting Arkansas: What is the dish that made you want to become a chef?
Gilbert Alaquinez: Watching Julia Child on PBS make Coq au Vin. It really grabbed my attention and let’s just say the rest is history.
IA: Why do you support The Next Course and Youth Home?
GA: It’s a win-win for everybody. By doing what I love, I can give back to the community and support Youth Home! The Next Course is a great event that raises money for Youth Home and really helps kids that are in major need.

Shane Henderson CEC – Executive Chef, Ben E. Keith Foods

Shane’s passion for cooking began in his college years while learning on the job at the Jonesboro Country Club. He left his course of study and enrolled at the prestigious culinary school at Johnson and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island. After school, Shane returned to his native Arkansas and continued to hone his culinary and management skills. For the last six years, Shane has served as Executive Chef for Ben E. Keith Foods, Mid-South Division, in North Little Rock. Shane serves as a member of the Arkansas Tech University Advisory board, the American Culinary Federation and Arkansas Hospitality Association.

Inviting Arkansas: What is your go-to comfort food?
Shane Henderson: I love so much southern comfort food… If really pressed, I might just go with fried chicken. If it were healthy and socially acceptable I would bathe in it.
IA: Why do you support The Next Course and Youth Home?
SH: I believe whatever your talent is you owe it to share that with others, and use it to help those in need. I have been working with Youth Home for about five years now. They are a great organization with tons of passion for the persons they serve, and their entire families.

Jamie McAfee CEC – Executive Chef, Pine Bluff Country Club

Chef Jamie McAfee was introduced to the culinary arts by his father, and has passed on this love for food to his son Jay (a teacher at the Arkansas Culinary School). He graduated top of his class from the Memphis Culinary Academy in the early 1980s and went on to earn his CEC in 1993. Over the years,  Jamie has won numerous awards, including induction into the American Academy of Chefs “Hall of Fame” in 2013.

Inviting Arkansas: What is the dish that made you want to become a chef?
Jamie McAfee: Cooking Hamburgers at my parents’ restaurant as a short order cook.
IA: Why do you support The Next Course and Youth Home?
JM: The first reason I got involved was because a chef I mentored asked me about volunteering. Second, I really enjoy giving my time to charity.

Jordan Williams – Sous Chef, The Clinton Presidential Library

Jordan enjoyed growing his skills as apprentice, cook, and Sous Chef under Executive Chef Jamie McAfee at the Pine Bluff Country Club for ten years before moving to Little Rock in 2015. He is now Sous Chef at The Clinton Presidential Library, where he is able to use his talents to benefit great local charities.

Inviting Arkansas: What is your go-to comfort food?
Jordan Williams: Sounds weird, but crackers and sardines. They remind me of my Granddaddy.
IA: Why do you support The Next Course and Youth Home?
JW: I always love to cook for a good cause, but after hearing and seeing how passionate Chef Shane Henderson is for The Next Course and Youth Home it really pulled on my heart strings. It’s an honor to be lending time and talent to such an amazing program.

Kelli Marks – Executive Pastry Chef, Sweet Love Catering

Kelli learned her way around the kitchen as most Southern women do, under the tutelage of her grandmother. There she learned the importance of using real ingredients and true Southern staples. Her first foray into elaborate decorated cakes came with her grandparent’s fiftieth anniversary. More than a dozen years later, Kelli continues to astound with culinary creations that are as delicious as they are beautiful. Kelli opened Sweet Love in January of 2012, and after four years as a brick-and-mortar store, Kelli moved Sweet Love to a catering company where she continues to create wedding cakes and other sweet treats.

Inviting Arkansas: If you were stranded on a desert island with one spice/seasoning, one cooking utensil, and one piece of cookware, what would they be?
Kelli Marks:
 One spice? I would say cinnamon. It’s so versatile and works well with so many foods. A whisk and a cake pan.
IA: Why do you support The Next Course and Youth Home?
 I love supporting organizations that help others.

Proceeds from this event will create therapeutic comfort rooms for the teens in Youth Home’s Residential Treatment Program. These specially designed spaces are valuable tools for teaching self-calming skills and decreasing agitation and aggression through visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile stimuli.

Stay tuned to find out what these talented chefs have developed for the Next Course menu… We can’t wait!

Tickets are only $125 and the seating is limited – purchase yours here!

Inviting Arkansas

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