The Aquarium event coincides with Evenings by the Bay, without the admission price.

The difficult truth is starting to sink in: We've never seen a fire like this.

But the same thing can be said of the response.

One of the most stirring fundraisers to spring up—among many—happens 6-8pm Sunday, Aug. 7, at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Admission is free for residents of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

A full 100 percent of drink and food tickets go to Soberanes Fire relief.

(Attendees can avoid lines for tickets by buying them online in advance at the Soberanes Fire Relief benefit site.)

The lineup of chefs is stacked, led by the Downtown Dining family's big three after DD chief Tony Tollner helped spearhead the effort:

Tony Baker (Montrio), Todd Fisher (Tarpy's), Cy Yontz (Rio Grill), Matt Beaudin (Aquarium), Cal Stamenov (Bernardus), Bill Lee (SUR at the Barnyard), Angela Tamura (Peppoli, Spanish Bay), Thomas Snyder (Esteban, Casa Munras), Tim Wood (Valley Kitchen / CVR), Justin Robarge (Cannery Row Brewing Company), Paul Corsentino (Ventana Inn), Jerry Regester (The Preserve), Annie Hobbs-Liu (A Taste of Elegance), Bill Bennett (Corral de Tierra), Yulanda Santos (Aubergine), Christopher Caul (Christopher's), Johnny DeVivo (Porter's in the Forest), Pablo Mellin (Roy's at Spanish Bay), Brian Kearns (Quail Lodge) and Terry Teplitzky (Michael's Catering/Boardwalk Subs).

More food news nibbles appear here:

• Another inspired benefit marks the private debut of hyper-anticipated Cultura Comida y Bebida in Carmel. It happens Friday, Aug. 5. More on that with "PHOTOS: Cultura launches in Carmel with a Soberanes Fire fundraiser." I'll post their menu to the blog this week too.

Lenora Carey and Big Sur Vineyards lost their small plot of vines and house in Palo Colorado. But her spirit is inspiring. "Everything's savable, everything can be regrown and rebuilt, and it's not the primary source of our grapes," she says. She calls the nearly $15,000 response to a tasting room fundraiser last week "amazing." "It was a thing out of A Wonderful Life," she says. 

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• To help with the cost of the firefighting and rebuilding efforts, McIntyre Vineyards will donate 30 percent of the sales from its 2013 Estate Chardonnay to the Monterey Community Foundation and the Coast Property Owners Association. 

• Folktale Winery hosts the Esalen Speaker Series Aug. 10 ($25 donation to fire relief) with Peter Myers on "Finding Your Voice." Come Aug. 28, KRML and Folktale team up for a Brett Dennan concert to also benefit the Soberane Fire Fund.

• Some pretty special chemistry happening with new exec chef Danny Abbruzzese and Portola/Peter B's/Jacks in Monterey. More on the blog this week. 

• Friend-of-the blog and Post No Bills co-creator Jeff Moses reports the carbonara pasta and cioppino at Guisseppe Panzuto's il Tegamino (250-5790)—and the octopus and Nebbiolo and burrata—rivaled some of the best that he’s had: “I could eat that same meal again. Is he open right now?”

Frankie’s in Soledad is now Corner Store (678-1820), but it's still the same fun and warm family doing habit-forming Mexican cuisine.

Scheid Vineyards now offers helicopter trips to its South County vineyard/tasting room.

• Four-course New England lobster bake ($110 with wine pairings) Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Aubergine (624-8578).

• Not many Rueben sandwiches around town. Rosine's (375-does a good one—and cookie dough and Snickers pie too—that I split with Sara Rubin.

• In response to heavy fraud accusations and a lawsuit, Rob Weakley of Altai medicinal marijuana chocolates basically told me: No biggie. We got this. More on the blog.

• Super Natural Foods Company from Kari Bernardi now has its peanut butter brown rice crispy bars, chia putting, blondie and brownie bars in The Press Club (901-3900) in Seaside.

• Seafood Watch's Sheila Bowman reports: "Baan Thai in Seaside [394-2996] has become one of my go to places. Flavorful and reasonably healthy. The beef salad, laab gai, pra ram steamed tofu and Singapore noodles—all heat level two—make an outstanding meal. Hard in this town to come by a complete start-to-finish meal that is as good."

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