From Mexican enchiladas and smokehouse barbecue nachos to hot wings and old-fashioned homestyle cooking, the cuisine of Kingsville and the surrounding area was on the menu for hundreds of attendees to sample at the Dream Come True Foundation of South Texas’s third annual Flavors of South Texas fundraiser.

“It’s grown every year,” DCTF-ST President Jackie Ilse said. “This year, we had vendors calling us (to participate) instead of us calling them.”

Started in 2015, the Dream Come True Foundation of South Texas is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves residents in Kleberg, Kenedy, Brooks and Jim Wells counties. Its parent organization, the Dream Come True Foundation, was founded in 2008 in Austin.

The DCTF-ST provides financial assistance, educational opportunities, access to community partners and mentoring to individuals who have well-defined goals but who are held back from pursuing them because of economic hardship.

The organization is currently assisting three dream achievers, including Riviera native and Texas A&M University-Kingsville electrical engineering student Kevin Jimenez, East Texas Baptist School nursing student Katarina Tovar of Kingsville and Alice-born Justin Salinas, who is attending Coastal Bend College-Kingsville as a computer information technology student.

“And this year, we’re hoping to be successful enough to be able to add some more dream achievers,” Ilse said. “We have quite a few applicants, so we’re looking to help a few more.”

The “Flavors of South Texas” food and wine tasting is the DCTF-ST’s only fundraising event for the year. Held at the Henrietta Memorial Center located at 405 N. 6th St. in Kingsville, attendees were given the opportunity to sample dishes and drinks from a variety of local restaurants and businesses.

Participating merchants this year included the Baffin Bay Seafood Company, Big House Burgers, Bray’s Smokehouse, Cattle Country Steakhouse, Cherry Tree Tea Room, Dandy’s Burgers, Discount Liquor, El Dorado Restaurant, HEB, Javelina Dining by Aramark, Javelina Watering Hole, Lydia’s Restaurant, Nucky’s Cocktail Bar, Ol’ Girls Kitchen, Two Sisters Events, Wild Horse Distillery and Wingstop.

“It’s great advertisement for a great cause,” Craig Alexander, owner of the Baffin Bay Seafood Company, said.

Alexander said his restaurant, located at 1294 E. County Rd. 2360 in Riviera, has participated in the Flavors of South Texas since its inception. He said they’ve always received “a great response” from attendees for their seafood samples.

“We’re primarily seafood, so we either do fish or shrimp (samples),” he said. “We’re doing shrimp today. We have shrimp hushpuppies and our signature tartar sauce.”

This year’s fundraiser also featured some new restaurants, such as Bray’s Smokehouse, which opened at 1500 S. Brahma Blvd. in June.

“We’ve been non-stop making nachos since we got out here,” co-owner Jason Bray said. “They’re going about as fast as we can make them.”

Jason Bray said he and his brother, Justin, worked for about three years to open their smokehouse, which serves a variety of barbecue with “a craft flair.”

“We do pizza, nachos, wings, street tacos, fish — we’ve got a little something for everybody,” he said.

For the Flavors of South Texas, Jason Bray said they chose to sample their “bestselling” brisket nachos appetizer.

“It’s tortilla chips that we make in-house, some of our chili, our queso, our brisket and avocado ranch dressing,” he said.

Jason Bray said while business at the restaurant has been “better than we expected,” being able to participate in the Flavors of South Texas fundraiser has helped get their food out to the public.

“And at the same time, also supporting our community,” he said.

The total raised for the event through ticket sales and sponsors was not available at press time.

For more information on the Dream Come True Foundation of South Texas, email dctfst@gmail.com or visit dctf-southtexas.org.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

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