Shredded, melted, sprinkled and cubed – Americans love their cheese. And Dallas entrepreneur Paula Lambert knows just how much they love it. The Fort Worth native started a cheese revolution in Dallas more than 30 years ago when she opened The Mozzzarella Company, and it’s been growing ever since. Now Lambert is being honored for her contributions to the culinary and business community during El Centro College’s annual Bits and Bites “foodie” fundraiser this year. It promises to be a cheesy affair.
Lambert’s signature red “spectacles” sit front and center on this year’s invitation to Bits and Bites, which will be held on Sun., April 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. in El Centro’s Student Center. The annual showcase of food and drink will bring together area chefs who lend their hands and their talents to raise funds for ECC’s culinary arts program as they honor Lambert.
“Funds we raise will help El Centro College enhance Food and Hospitality Institute programs and services so that faculty members can continue to inspire and train the next generation of talented food and hospitality experts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area,” said Steve DeShazo, director of the institute. “Honoring Paula Lambert adds a special touch to the program, and we invite her colleagues and friends to join us as we celebrate her contributions and accomplishments in business and the culinary world.”
The evening’s festivities will feature foods prepared by El Centro’s former students and friends of the college.
Tickets are available at several levels:
· Cheddar – $55 in advance and $60 at the door, which includes the ticket, wine glass and tray with glass holder;
· Gruyere – $75 in advance and $80 at the door, which includes the ticket, wine glass, tray with glass holder and a tote bag;
· Blue Cheese – $125 in advance (not available at the door), which includes the ticket, wine glass and tray with glass holder, a tote bag and Paula Lambert’s award-winning Deep Ellum Blue Cheese;
· Parmesan – $150 in advance (not available at the door), which includes the ticket, wine glass and tray with glass holder, a tote bag, Paula Lambert’s award-winning Deep Ellum Blue Cheese and a cheese board; and
· Mozzarella – $175 in advance (not available at the door), which includes the ticket, wine glass and tray with glass holder, a tote bag, Paula Lambert’s award-winning Deep Ellum Blue Cheese, a cheese board and a bottle of wine.
After spending five years in Italy, Lambert fell in love with and learned how to make soft, fresh mozzarella cheese from an Italian cheese professor, Mauro Brufani. She returned to Dallas, decided on a location for the factory and asked Brufani to come to the U.S. to teach her more as she started her new business. She visited specialty food shops that offered Italian foods, hoping to recruit them as future customers. After customers began to buy her cheese through retail outlets, she decided to approach restaurants as well; The Mansion on Turtle Creek was her first big account. The rest is history, and The Mozzarella Company was born.
“I founded The Mozzarella Company with one clear goal — to make the same fresh mozzarella I had enjoyed in Italy. I realized that in order to have this wonderful cheese in Texas I was going to have to make it myself,” says Lambert on her company’s website, http://www.mozzco.com. They still do today.
More than 150 accomplished chefs in the Dallas area received their formal training at the Food and Hospitality Institute at El Centro College, including Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House and Chamberlain’s Fish Market Grill; Chad Houser of Café Momentum; Dunia Borga of LaDuni Restaurants; Marc Cassel of 20 Feet Seafood Joint; and Shari Carlson of Dessert Dreams.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the cashier’s office on the second floor of the A Building on campus at 801 Main St. in Dallas. Purchase tickets by mail with checks made payable to “DCCCD Foundation” and send them to: El Centro College, Cindy Bozzelli-Duke, Business and Public Services, 801 Main St., Dallas TX 75202.