March 4, 2020 – Every time the most acclaimed chefs or Orange County and L.A. gather at the Disneyland® Resort for OC Chef’s Table, magic happens.
On Sunday, March 1, 2020, magic was in play again, with nearly $1.2 million raised in the name of disrupting the cycle of homelessness.
For seven years now, patrons, celebrities and top-ranked chefs have worked together to raise funds for the non-profit organization Illumination Foundation, which secures recuperative care, emergency housing and permanent housing for homeless families, children, and individuals. In an effort to help these community members get back on their feet, Illumination Foundation also provides a multitude of wrap-around services, including case management, behavioral health substance use counseling, children’s programming, workforce help and more.
Funding for a Third Emergency Family Home
Thanks to the gracious efforts of 44 acclaimed chefs and more than 440 patrons, funds raised at the OC Chef’s Table will go toward building an emergency house for families in dire need. It is modeled after the success of Illumination Foundation’s initial emergency houses, the Stanton-based Theriault House and the Bob Murphy House in Anaheim. The Murphy House was acquired, renovated and opened to families just months after funds had been raised for that cause in the 2019 OC Chef’s Table.
“We put the funds raised at this event immediately into service,” said Illumination Foundation’s CEO and Co-Founder Paul Leon from the stage. “Last year, we were able to purchase, open and operate our second emergency home for families in a matter of months after our OC Chef’s Table event. All of you here will, again, be a part of this visible success with funds this evening going toward the purchase of a third emergency home.”
Giant Steps Forward
As rain pattered throughout the evening, everyone in the Disneyland Hotel ballroom was reminded of the reason for this fundraising effort, particularly given grim statistics of this winter’s deaths in homeless populations.
The “Who’s Who” of Orange County Chefs + Acclaimed L.A. Chef Surprises
Chefs at the evening’s event were a veritable who’s who of Orange County and L.A.s finest, including the return of Food Network Celebrity Chef Jet Tila, Disneyland® Resort’s Host Chef Andrew Sutton, The Farmhouse’s Rich Mead, Disneyland® Club 33’s Clint Chin, Mastro’s Chefs Magellan Moore and Stephen LaFountain, The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon’s Michael Rossi, Chef Leo Razo with two tables representing both Villa Roma and Cambalache, Pelican Hill Resort Andrea’s Chef Chris Simons, and L.A. based restaurateurs and chefs Petros Benekos of Petros and Michele Rubini of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.
Many new restaurants stepped into play, too, with Chef Jonathan Blackford representing his new brand, cdm Restaurant + Bar, Chefs Nick Bennett and Jayro Martinez of Laguna Beach-based AHBA, Chefs Melanie Danan and Art Ortiz of the acclaimed catering company, Platters by Design, Chef/Owner Paige Riordan of Scarlet, Chef Tia Baker of Strong Water, Chefs Tony Celeste and Nick Herrera of Dana Point’s Whitestone, Executive Chef Amol Agarwal representing the not-yet-opened JW Marriott Anaheim Resort, and the return of Chef Chris Tzorin with fellow chef owners Manny Velasco and Eddie Perez of Xclusive Taqueria Moderna.
OC Chef’s Table an Innovative Gala Frontrunner for Southern California
As chefs created immaculate dinners for their guests, the stage came alive with Illumination Foundation’s Children’s Choir and a lively auction. At one point, former Full House celebrities John Stamos (who played Uncle Jesse) and Bob Saget (who payed Danny Tanner) joined the auctioneer on stage to promote live auction experiences.
Evening highlights included a video presentation of homeless parents telling their heart-wrenching stories before being helped by Illumination Foundation, and a $5,000 scholarship awarded from the alliantgroup to a formerly homeless student who wants to become a teacher and give back one day.
To conclude the high-energy evening, the patrons’ vote for “favorite tablescape” was revealed and awarded to the Chef host of the event, Chef Andrew Sutton, the Executive Chef of Signature Restaurants of the Disneyland® Resort, including his own success, Napa Rose.
In a pre-event toast with his visiting chefs, Sutton noted, “This is a real honor to get all the Orange County chefs and L.A. chefs together. This, for me, is a very special event because it’s such a great cause. But what’s most precious to me is that all your restaurants are reaching out a hand and sharing your hospitality and great talent here with us at Disneyland® and here for the Illumination Foundation.”