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May 26, 1994|LEO SMITH

Ventura's City Bakery Cafe has stopped serving dinner.

"It never really got busy enough," said owner Mabel Chase. "We were doing about five dinners a night on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and maybe 15 on Fridays."

Now that Chef Reece Keck is no longer preparing dinners at City Bakery, look for her elsewhere around town. "She's getting ready to open a restaurant of her own," said Chase. "She's looking for a spot now."

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Cuisine prepared by Vincent Vanhecke, the new executive chef at Santa Barbara's El Encanto Hotel and Garden Villas, was named "Best Meal in Santa Barbara" in last month's Professional Chef's Competition at the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo.

Vanhecke's entree was croustade of duck foie gras, scallop and Jerusalem artichoke salad, rosettes of lamb and a baked purse of fresh berries in filo pastry.

Vanhecke joined El Encanto in February, coming over from The Inn at Perry Cabin, a four-star Maryland restaurant owned by Laura Ashley's husband, Sir Bernard Ashley. Vanhecke was featured in the 1993 Discovery series "Great Chefs in America" and in 1992 was selected by Esquire magazine as one of the country's best young chefs.

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The Ventura County office of the American Heart Assn., located in Camarillo, recently had a run on its "Dining Out: A Guide to Restaurant Dining" brochure. There has been such demand that as of late last week the supply had been depleted.

But fear not. Those looking for tips on how to order health-consciously, how to identify hidden fats, cholesterol and the like, can expect another shipment next week.

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Speaking of healthy foods, Sooki's Oriental Cuisine in Oxnard recently added curry chicken and wonton soup to its menu. The restaurant, formerly a mainstay at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks, specializes in stir-fry dishes with no preservatives and no MSG. Teriyaki plates are prepared with no oil and the tempura dishes are made with vegetable oil. The restaurant is at 2550 Vineyard Ave., in the Home Depot shopping center.

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