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Month: March 2018

OC Chef’s Table Raises $1 Million to Help Break Cycle of Homelessness

Disneyland – March 30, 2018 – The Disneyland Resort was the presenting sponsor of Orange County’s most prestigious culinary fundraiser, the Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table 2018, which raised $1 million this year to help break the cycle of homelessness. The upscale event returned to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on March 18, with 32 of Orange County’s top chefs serving up signature, tableside dishes for hundreds of guests. Disneyland Resort has hosted the event for five years.

“In the fight against homelessness, Disney has provided funding for the first Illumination Foundation emergency shelter, the children’s resource center and children’s programming,” said Paul Leon, president and CEO of the Illumination Foundation. “But more important, they attend events, serve on committees and are part of the dialogue to help effect change.”

Two Disneyland Resort chefs, Andrew Sutton, culinary director of signature restaurants, and Clint Chin, chef de cuisine for Club 33, participated in the event. Chef Sutton, the hosting chef, said, “The chefs love the camaraderie they feel when they participate. The real win, though, lies in putting our combined efforts toward such a great cause.”

OC Chef’s Table Raises $1 Million for Nation’s First Recuperative Care Housing for Homeless Children

3-20-2018 Orange County’s most prestigious culinary fundraiser, the Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table 2018, raised the bar even higher this year with 32 top chefs and 340 guests working collectively to raise $1 million to break the cycle of homelessness.

 The event returned to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on Sunday, March 18th, combining the engaging fun of chefs serving up signature, tableside dishes with heartfelt, emotional presentations from Illumination Foundation’s key presenters from the stage.

“If we don’t take care of this homelessness issue, it will come to define our generation,” said Illumination Foundation Founder & CEO Paul Leon in opening remarks. “This is not a problem we need to address … these are our people we need to find solutions for.”

Celebrity Chef Jet Tila took a moment to tell the audience that he was born and raised in L.A. and that his family was “just steps away from homelessness” on more than one occasion. “We came out on the other side because we had people just like you who cared enough to reach out and help us. That’s what this night is really all about.”

Throughout the evening, teams of chefs worked tirelessly through the evening to provide innovative dishes for each of their seated guests. Meanwhile, at one point on stage, the Illumination Foundation (IF) teamed with the Simon Family Foundation in a surprise presentation, awarding college scholarships to two sisters whose mother had come through the IF program and is now a valued employee with the IF organization.

In today’s homeless circles, many families will not seek out help for fear their families will be separated. Illumination Foundation works to achieve just the opposite, ensuring that more and more families – just like this mother and her two young daughters – remain intact and cared for in bridge and emergency housing while they get back on their feet.

Proceeds from this year’s OC Chef’s Table 2018 will go to the construction of the first Recuperative Care Housing Site for children. Working hand-in-hand with CHOC Children’s Hospital, Illumination Foundation’s recuperative care program will be a safety net for unstably housed or homeless children who are recovering from an illness or medical procedure. Providing for more than 40 families at one time, the Recuperative Care Housing will continue to keep families intact as their children recover, all the while providing teams of consultants and counselors to help these families break from homelessness entirely.

It is the first housing of its kind in the country.

“When we topped the $1million mark on Sunday, it drove home the fact that our sponsors, guests and long-time donors are behind the issue and know the work we’re doing at Illumination Foundation is truly moving the dial,” said Leon.

“It is imperative that we all come together to end homelessness, and we see it resonating in people’s hearts and belief systems more each day. That, really, is the biggest reward of all.”

OC Chef’s Table with Skyloft’s Chef Arthur Ortiz

March 8, 2018 – Chef Arthur Ortiz has been tapped to join 31 other top O.C. chefs for the most prestigious culinary event of the year – the Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table. 

The event includes a cocktail reception, live entertainment, a silent auction and even table décor that jostles for first-place pageantry. Joined by L.A.’s Celebrity Chef Jet Tila, each chef is responsible for his or her own 10-top table of patrons, creating an encapsulated “atmosphere,” from table décor to lavish courses and cocktails prepared tableside.

Proceeds from this year’s OC Chef’s Table 2018 will go to the construction of the nation’s first Recuperative Care Housing Site for children. Working hand-in-hand with CHOC Children’s Hospital, Illumination Foundation’s recuperative care program will be a safety net for unstably housed or homeless children who are recovering from an illness or medical procedure.

Tables and individual tickets for OC Chef’s Table are still available at: ifhomeless.org/occt2018

Orange County’s Top Chefs Raising Funds to End Homelessness

March 16, 2018 – Voice of OC

Orange County’s most prestigious culinary fundraiser, the Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table 2018 presented by Disneyland Resort, returns to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on Sunday, March 18th.

The event includes a cocktail reception, live entertainment, silent auction, and even table décor that jostles for first-place pageantry. Joined by L.A.’s Celebrity Chef Jet Tila, each participating chef is responsible for his or her own 10-top table of patrons, creating an encapsulated “atmosphere,” from table décor, to lavish courses and cocktails prepared tableside.

Proceeds from this year’s OC Chef’s Table 2018 will go to the construction of the nation’s first Recuperative Care Housing Site for children. Working hand-in-hand with CHOC Children’s Hospital, Illumination Foundation’s recuperative care program will be a safety net for unstably housed or homeless children who are recovering from an illness or medical procedure.

Tables and individual tickets for OC Chef’s Table are still available at: ifhomeless.org/occt2018

32 of Orange County’s Acclaimed Chefs

The OC Chef’s Table Hosting Chef is, again, Disneyland Resort’s Culinary Director of Signature Restaurants, Andrew Sutton.

“The chefs love the camaraderie they feel when they participate in this event,” said Sutton. “The real win, though, lies in putting our combined efforts toward such a great cause.”

OC Chef’s Table has tapped top talent from 18 cities, spanning every segment of Orange County, from Brea to San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. While many former participants such as Co-Executive Chef Gino Buonanoce of Antonello Ristorante and Executive Chefs Stephan LaFountain and Magellan Moore of Mastro’s Ocean Club were happy to return again, this year’s roster introduces a number of newcomers.

“It’s such an honor to be a part of this circle of chefs,” said Chef Arthur Ortiz of Skyloft Laguna Beach. “And, there’s really no better reason for us to all join together. Homelessness is all around us, in every city of Orange County. We can look to government or agencies and expect them to help these people or take care of the issue, but nothing’s really going to change until we all take on this responsibility with an understanding that these people are our people.”

Another first-time participant, the 1-year-old success story, Trevor’s at the Tracks in San Juan Capistrano, echoes similar sentiment. “We’re definitely seeing more homeless people here in San Juan,” says Owner Trevor Baird. “It’s heartbreaking and it can seem overwhelming, but here’s our chance to act locally, from a grass roots level, and change this – permanently. That’s what our restaurant’s mission is all about. Illumination Foundation’s invitation is perfect timing and a perfect combination for what we’re committed to doing here in our own town.”

A Chef Who Experienced Homelessness Firsthand

Executive Chef Leo Razo of Laguna Hills’ Villa Roma might have the closest connection to the issue of homelessness as his Sous Chef he’s bringing to the event, Justino Hernandez, was homeless at one time. “He didn’t have a car, so someone would always give him a ride home,” said Leo’s wife, Theresa. “He would tell people to just drop him at the corner where his house was, but we finally figured out that he was sleeping in the bushes behind the houses.”

As Justino struggled with addiction issues and absenteeism from work, Leo refused to give up on him. “He used to tell me, ‘There’s an angel in him,’ and he just didn’t let go,” said Theresa.

Today, Justino has his own apartment, recently got married and is putting his youngest brother through school.

Alarming Statistics on Homeless Children

Illumination Foundation primarily focuses on helping homeless families. Today, there are more than 32,000 Orange County children living in “tenuous” housing (i.e. cars) or homeless shelters.

“The most vulnerable homeless population is that of families,” says Illumination Foundation CEO & President Paul Leon. “We receive about 60 calls each week from families asking us for help. This week, we were able to take in 10 babies with their parents, but we had to say ‘no’ to 15 others who asked.”

The County’s First Emergency Housing for Struggling Families

Last year, the Chef’s Table event raised more than $650,000, which allowed for the completion of the Illumination Foundation’s first Theriault Emergency House, a Stanton-based home that takes in homeless families with at least one child or pregnant woman. It houses nine families at a time with large private bedrooms and baths for each family, new laundry facilities on both floors, a community kitchen and living room, and a child’s wonderland in a fenced, grassy yard.

Most families stay for about a month, working daily with case workers, doctors and local hospitals to get their lives and health back on track. At month’s end, families are helped into permanent housing solutions or bridge housing while they seek out permanent residence.

“Our only mission is to protect these people and treat them with the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve,” said Leon. “We have no other agenda.”

OC Chef’s Table Set by Laguna Kitchen Masters

March 15, 2018 – The Indy

Ron Fougeray of Splashes and Andrew Gruel of Slapfish join three other Laguna Beach chefs, Rainer Schwarz of Driftwood Kitchen/The Deck, Azmin Ghahreman of Sapphire and Arthur Ortiz of Skyloft in the Illumination Foundation’s fundraiser at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa on Sunday, March 18.

Each chef will create table décor and prepare lavish courses for their own table. Proceeds from the evening, which also includes live entertainment and a silent auction, benefit construction of CHOC Children’s Hospital, Illumination Foundation’s recuperative care housing site.