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Big Chefs Big Gala – A Foodie Fantasy and So Much More - A Story of How a Little Sister was Inspired to Become a Big Chef By Mel Ulloa

Former Little Sister, Sarah Anstett, and her Big Sister Nadia

Sarah & Nadia - A Life Saving Sisterhood Inspires a Career and a Cause 

What makes a worthy dessert? Many will say presentation, flavor, complexity, or plating, but Chef Sarah Anstett, a former Little Sister, knows the true key is the story behind it. 

Little Sister Sarah was matched with her Big Sister Nadia when she was just 14 years old; they have been matched for nearly a decade. A lot has changed over the years, but through ups and downs they have managed to prioritize their relationship and dedication to each other and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada (BBBSNN). 

“The journey that led me to Big Brothers Big Sisters was painful to say the least”, explained Sarah. “Before I joined this organization, I did not have a positive female figure to seek guidance from. My parents were separated and I was not able to maintain a relationship with my mother and half-sister. I was depressed and closed off from the world. I did not want to wake up in the morning and I would cry myself to sleep almost every night. After being matched, everything changed, and it has been nothing short of life-saving.”  

Sarah and Nadia’s story is just one example of the amazing work Big Brothers Big Sisters performs in northern Nevada. Big Chefs Big Gala, coming up on April 13th, is their biggest event of the year and raises vital funds to support their mentoring programs. In a unique twist on the traditional gala format, Big Chefs Big Gala features not just an exciting live, more than 200-item silent auction, but also a delicious dessert auction. 

Sarah will participate in the dessert auction for the second year in a row. She has worked for Liberty, Chez Louie, and Coffeebar and is now a pastry chef at Roxy at the Eldorado. Sarah discovered her culinary talent and passion at age 14 when she and her Big Sister started Kittens in the Kitchen, a baking service for friends and family.  

“It was my first time creating a dessert for the Gala,” she said of her 2018 contribution, “and I pulled inspiration from my Big Sister Nadia. I had made a chocolate cake for her college graduation and wanted to take that concept and elevate it. She inspires me all the time.”  

“The dessert auction is the most fun part to me of the whole night,” said Mel Ulloa, Marketing & PR Manager of BBBSNN. “These chefs’ creations are so artistic and our guests really respond to them. Last year Sarah’s cake sold for $2,750!”  

Big Chefs Big Gala is not just about the desserts - it’s a night for all food lovers. If you like food, this is the event for you. Thirty-five of our area’s top culinary chefs will serve up a five-course meal delicious enough to make any foodie’s mouth water. The night kicks off with appetizers from Chef Dawn Tavares of Cherry Bomb Catering and Chefs Heather & Stuart Mundy of The Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows among others, plus a beer truck from the Tap Wagon. This year features two local cocktail stations from Tahoe Blue Vodka and Ten Torr Distillery.  

BBBSNN guarantees their chefs will have you drooling. Just take Sarah’s 2018 creation of a delectable chocolate chiffon cake with layers of chocolate ganache and crunch cocoa nibs, spread with a velvety caramel frosting, and topped with a cascade of bourbon chocolate icing. This was a 3-tiered cake finished with edible 24-carat gold leaf. Sarah already has ideas about how to take her dessert to the next level this year, but won’t reveal much until the big night. 

“This year’s inspiration is Spring – change and growth and what is to come. Those are the only details I will give for now,” she said. 

All the funds raised from Big Chefs Big Gala will stay right here in our community to match children facing economic and social adversity with caring adult mentors. Last year Big Brothers Big Sisters served more than 600 children in northern Nevada.  

Big Chefs Big Gala will be held on Saturday, April 13 at the Grand Sierra Resort and tickets are available now at