Category: Media Coverage

Two OC Chefs Table Participants Honored in Anaheim Business Awards Event

On Thursday February 13, 2020, two restaurants participating in this year’s upcoming Illumination Foundation OC Chefs Table are being honored in the Anaheim Business Awards.

The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon has been named “Restaurant of the Year,” while Urbana Mexican Gastronomy & Mixology has been named “Immigrant-Owned Business of the Year.

Urbana - Ernie Alvarado blogThe annual Anaheim Business Awards event on February 13, 2020, is produced by the combined efforts of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce and the City of Anaheim.

Of just 16 Anaheim Business Award winners this year, Illumination Foundation will also be honored as “Non-Profit of the Year.”

“It’s such an honor for Illumination Foundation to be given this Anaheim Business Award,” said Terry Campbell, Marketing Director for Illumination Foundation.

“It’s a special honor, though, when two of our returning OC Chefs Table restaurants will stand with us at the same ceremony. While our annual gala in March attracts the finest chef talent in the area, we know that these restaurant owners and chefs have a special kind of caring humanity that distinguishes them as true community leaders.

“Both the Ranch Restaurant & Saloon and Urbana have been a part of our OC Chefs Table family for years, and it’s such a gift to be welcoming them again this year,” Campbell concluded.

The Anaheim Business Awards Luncheon will honor 16 businesses for their “significant contributions to the regional economy and greater community.” The event takes place at the Hilton Anaheim from 11:00 am to 2:00 p.m. For seating at the event, please visit AnaheimChamber.org or call (714) 758-0222.



4 Reasons Why You Should Attend 2020’s Illumination Foundation OC Chef’s Table

4 Reasons Why You Should Attend This Year’s Illumination Foundation OC Chef’s Table at the Disneyland® Hotel (Hint: #4 Includes the Opportunity to Meet Food Network Chef Jet Tila)

Back for its 7th year, OC Chef’s Table on Sunday, March 1st, is the largest annual gathering of acclaimed OC and LA chefs in the L.A. Basin. It’s foodie heaven!

Presented by the Disneyland® Resort and now in the largest ballroom that Disneyland® has to offer, OC Chef’s Table invites you to take a seat against homelessness while one of nearly 50 chefs personally cooks for you and your table. As you enjoy a spectacular, one-of-a-kind meal, you will be joining forces with these chefs to help Illumination Foundation create emergency and permanent housing for homeless children and their families.

Grab your tickets early for this sell-out event, and mark your calendar for March 1st, 2020, for the renowned OC Chef’s Table!

  1. Nearly 50 Chefs + Their Chef Staffs

Imagine one of the region’s most popular chefs AND his or her chef staff tending to dinner for you and just nine other guests at your table. It’s pampering beyond belief with fun conversation all the night long.

  1. Helping – Literally – Hundreds of Homeless Children in Orange County

At last year’s OC Chef’s Table, the funds raised went immediately into securing and renovating a second Illumination Foundation emergency home for homeless families. That house opened last fall, and several hundred people have already been sheltered in a house they call home. Once the families are secure in housing, then IF helps them with all their other needs to help them permanently recover from homelessness. It’s a solution that’s working beautifully, and now YOU can be a part of that solution as this year’s event raises even more funds for similar housing.

  1. Your Photo With Mickey Mouse

… Because, seriously, that child in you needs to live forever.

  1. Chat With Food Network Celebrity Chef Jet Tila

Both Jet and his wife, Ali (the undisputed champion of pastry), are returning for a third year to OC Chef’s Table.

I’ve been involved in a number of charity events and dinners, but OC Chef’s Table has really had an impact on us,” said Chef Jet.

“Everyone wants to be there because they truly care, and they’re coming together with this heightened sense of community to be involved in something that is such a crucial issue for our fellow human beings. It’s a great collection of amazing chefs who are able to do something good for a great cause. There’s really nothing like it anywhere.”

OC Chef’s Table  hosted by Disneyland® Resort

The Disneyland® Hotel Grand Ballroom
Sunday, March 1st
5:00 – 10:00 pm
Purchase tables or individual tickets



45+ Top Orange County Chefs are Tackling OC Homelessness

StuNewsLaguna by Diane Armitage
The biggest, swankiest chefs’ dinner in the LA Basin, OC Chef’s Table is back at the largest ballroom Disneyland has to offer in the Disneyland Hotel’s Grand Ballroom on Sunday, March 1st.
Here’s your chance to dine at your favorite chef’s table and give to a worthy cause that we’re all working together to find a solution for – homelessness.

Each year, more top-ranked chefs in Orange County (and now L.A. and Palm Desert, too) fairly clamor to be involved in this one great night as they individually cook for 10 guests while collectively raising more than $1 million in funds for specific projects such as emergency and permanent housing for homeless families with small children.

More Than 45 Celebrity & Award-Winning Chefs in One Room

This year, Food Network’s Celebrity Chef Jet Tila is back with his darling Pastry Chef wife, Ali.

Napa Rose Executive Chef Andrew Sutton tries a new sauce while sous chefs look on. Photo credit: Illumination Foundation/OC Chef’s Table

Disneyland’s Napa Rose Executive Chef Andrew Sutton is host again, and he’s welcoming chefs from all points including Rich Mead (Farmhouse), Bryan Brown (Bourbon at MBR), Chris Simons (Andrea at Pelican Hill), Corey Muir (Bosscat), Alfonso Ramirez (Catal), Clint Chin (Club 33), Magellan Moore (Mastro’s Ocean Club), Stephen LaFountain (Mastro’s Steakhouse), Peter Lai (Blind Rabbit Speakeasy), Chef of the Year in OC, John Park (Toast) and many more.

Chef Greg Daniels of Harley is returning again to OC Chef’s Table along with three other Laguna Beach chefs. Photo credit: Harley restaurant

Laguna Beach is (so far) sending up four great chefs, all of whom have participated in the past – they’re hooked! Chef Greg Daniels at Harley, Chef Andrew Gruel with Slapfish and Co-host of the popular OC Restaurant Radio Show, and Chefs Nick Bennett and Jayro Martinez at the newly rocking AHBA will be there.


Doing What it Takes to Get Homeless People Back on Their Feet

Food Network Celebrity Chef Jet Tila, far left, mugs with fellow chefs before the OC Chef’s Table dinner gets underway. Photo credit: Illumination Foundation/OC Chef’s Table

This is a renowned annual gala, produced by Illumination Foundation, the fast-growing non-profit agency working to disrupt homelessness on a permanent basis. While Illumination Foundation started with a mission to primarily help homeless women and families, its work has rapidly expanded to provide temporary housing and a full circle of services to everyone struggling in homelessness, including our veterans and homeless individuals requiring assistance and recuperative care after hospitalization and surgery.

Find tickets and tables here.
See all the chefs participating.
Read blog interviews at the OC Chefs Table website

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events and lifestyle. 



Mark Your Calendars: The Sixth Annual OC Chef’s Table

From Dining Out, Thurs, Feb. 28th

Notable chefs Rich Mead of Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden, Ernie Alvarado of URBANA, Joseph Tripi of Trevor’s at the Tracks, and many more will gather for an evening of food, fun, and, most importantly, charity. Welcome the return of OC Chef’s Table.

Dubbed the “Premier Chef’s Event of Orange County,” the sixth annual OC Chef’s Table will draw over 40 phenomenal chefs from across Southern California for one spectacular night. On March 3, these seasoned chefs will gather at the Disneyland® Hotel and cook alongside one another for charity. Preparing their favorite recipes tableside, guests can experience all the culinary magic up close and personal. (Speaking of magic, you may even catch Mickey and Minnie Mouse on-site, too!)

Chef Peter Lai of The Blind Rabbit, chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, celebrity chef and Food Network personality Jet Tila, and more are on this year’s roster. “I’ve been involved in a number of charity events and dinners, but OC Chef’s Table has really had an impact on me,” said chef Tila. “People are coming together with this heightened sense of community to be involved in something that is such a crucial issue for our fellow human beings. There’s really nothing like it.”

Answering the call in the name of charity, a number of LA-based chefs will land in OC to lend a helping hand, including Jason Neroni of Rosé Cafe in Santa Monica and chef Tyler Gugliotta of Baran’s 2239 in Hermosa Beach. World-renowned chef Martin Molteni—winner of the acclaimed cooking competition Bocuse d’Or—will also be in attendance, cooking alongside his award-winning brother and chef, Mariano Molteni.

But beyond the glitz and glamour, giving back is at the heart of the event. Partnering with the Illumination Foundation since its inception, the gala’s purpose is to break the cycle of homelessness. Founded in 2007, the Illumination Foundation provides permanent housing and services for homeless adults and children in Orange County and L.A. Basin. As of March 2018, the charity has raised an unprecedented 1 million dollars for the cause. “It is extraordinary to see these amazing chefs offer so much time and effort and culinary talent to our annual OC Chef’s Table,” says Illumination Foundation co-founder Paul Leon. “Their partnership allows us to touch and change literally thousands of homeless adult and children’s lives. It’s really very humbling for all of us.” The funds will directly benefit multiple programs of the Illumination Foundation, including mental and physical health services, career counseling, and a tutoring center for children. In addition, the proceeds of the evening will go toward building the country’s first-ever recuperative care center, providing a refuge for homeless children and teens to recover after being hospitalized.

OC Chef’s Table will be held March 3 at the Disneyland® Hotel. To reserve your tickets or look into sponsorship opportunities, visit occhefstable.com.

OC Chef’s Table Returns March 3rd, 2019, Expands Roster to Unprecedented 40 Chefs

A night of belonging

Editor’s note: Our own Chef John Park of Toast Kitchen Bakery & Bar presided over this special dinner for homeless people. Read what the OC Register has to say!


By Theresa Walker

thwalker@scng.com @TellTheresa on Twitter 

Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 – On a night designed to make her feel like royalty, Donna Sallee compared herself to something far less glamorous: a human piece of trash.

Those were the words used by the 62-year-old recovering meth addict to describe the self-loathing caused by her personal failings and the disparaging treatment she has endured over nearly two decades of being on the streets.

The disdain made her wonder where she fits in.

The answer came back from many voices: “Right here!”

Sallee heard those words from the other homeless people she lives with at the Courtyard shelter in the Santa Ana Civic Center. They were the 20 guests of honor Tuesday night at a special gathering called Kings Table.

And just as vigorously, Sallee was embraced by the hosts of the evening, employees of the ad agency Amusement Park, whose offices in the old city hall on Main Street aren’t far from the shelter.

That message of acceptance spread to all the homeless women and men treated to a four-course dinner made by executive chef John Park of Toast Kitchen Bakery & Bar in Costa Mesa.

Their servers were Amusement Park staff. Other employees sat among their guests for the meal, including Amusement Park Chief Executive Officer Mike Weisman, who ended the night with a standing invitation.

“These doors are always, always open to each one of you,” he said. “You’re very precious.”

Kings Table is an outreach started by Santa Ana native Lambert Lo, a surf instructor to celebrities and billionaires around the world, who dedicates much of his free time as an advocate for the poor and downtrodden.

Lo, 43, has put on a Kings Table gathering monthly the past three years, finding hosts at various venues in Santa Ana. In February, he took the concept to Switzerland, where refugees who have fled violence in the Middle East were the honored guests.

Last month, a dinner was held at a church in Bangkok’s red light district for women forced from a young age into the sex trade.

“We hope to continue to have prostitutes as our guests but also invite refugees, those living in the nearby slums and on the streets — our neighbors,” Kaija Leo, a friend of Lo’s who does church work in Bangkok, wrote in an email.

To Lo, as he intends it to be for all who attend, Kings Table is more than a meal. It’s a night of belonging and friendship.

“It’s a different experience from most homeless meals,” said Lo, who likes to call himself Lamberto for his roots in the Spanish- speaking neighborhoods of Santa Ana. “Dignit y, interaction, story and hope are the top priorities.”

The guests and the hosts, as was the case with the Amusement Park staff, share the meal and personal stories as the evening unfolds. On Tuesday night, Park created appetizers that included bacon-wrapped dates, a first course with white bean toast and crispy brussels sprouts, a second course with sous vide short rib and two desserts.

The setting resembled a fancy banquet with table linens, soft candlelight, seasonal decorations and live music inside the spacious staff lounge at Amusement Park.

Employees call the area where they go to relax the “love room” for a sign on the back wall that spells out L-O-V-E in small light bulbs. The nickname fit perfectly with the mood and meaning of Kings Table.

“Did you guys taste the love in the food tonight?” Lo asked as he gave a shout-out to Park, who arranged the food on the plates in an area next to the employee lounge.

That love has crossed borders.

Stéphane Rapin runs a golf course in the Swiss town of Payerne. He has family in Santa Ana and, with Lo’s assistance, presented a Kings Table. It has become a monthly event. A friend in England has started one at her home, inviting refugees.

Rapin tells the story of a Syrian man whose restaurant in Aleppo was destroyed by ISIS. The man saw his sons beheaded and escaped with his daughter. He enjoyed the Kings Table meal so much he asked to come cook for the next one. He’s been back twice.

“We realized he was alive again when he was preparing food and serving people,” Rapin said in an email. “So we are now trying to find a way to give him a tool again, to give him a restaurant in Switzerland.”

During what Lo calls his favorite part of Kings Table, he invites people to come up and speak whatever is on their minds, as Sallee and others did in talking about the way society often perceives homeless people. It’s a testimonial of sorts.

Kimberly Sandoval, 50, said she’s spent the past two months at the Courtyard, after years of living “right out there,” pointing in the vicinity of the Civic Center.

Her rough life included drug abuse, giving up her son and being disowned by her family. But she said she is finding another family among the homeless people at the Courtyard and the advocates who encourage them to change their lives.

“Lambert was right when he was saying it’s not us and them,” Sandoval said. “It’s a we — a we.”

One man, Clarence Williams, 52, got an interview with Park for the next day, to perhaps wash dishes at Toast. He ended the evening on a note of excitement: “I hope I get this job!”

Prayer is also a part of what gets shared, along with joy and tears. More often than not, Lo is the first to cry.

His voice wavered as he told everyone that God watches out for them.

“He looks at you right now, and he sees your heart of gold. You are all kings.”


Guests of Kings Table, a once-a-month multicourse meal served to homeless people, gather for a group hug during Tuesday’s dinner at the ad agency Amusement Park in Santa Ana.


Servers at Tuesday’s Kings Table dinner were staff of the ad agency Amusement Park, which hosted the event. Other employees sat among their guests for the meal. Above, Zach Weisman serves some of the guests.

Illumination Foundation Announces Top-Ranked Chef Lineup for OC Chef’s Table 2019

Oct 23, 2018 – Illumination Foundation, the non-profit organization committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness, has announced its 6th Annual roster of top-ranked chefs for its March 3, 2019 event at Disneyland® Resort.

New Website – OCChefstable.com
Illumination Foundation has also released a new website devoted entirely to OC Chef’s Table at OCChefsTable.com, which provides the entire roster of chefs along with individual chef videos, a growing blog that features fun and interesting backstories on the chefs and their “secret menu” plans, as well as all sponsorship and ticketing opportunities to attend the event.

Raising Millions
OC Chef’s Table was created six years ago, inviting hundreds of attendees to tables manned individually by the area’s highest-ranked chefs. Proceeds from the evening’s event are funneled to an umbrella of vital programs initiated by Illumination Foundation to permanently break the cycle of homelessness.

OC Chefs Table -209Earlier this year in March 2018, the OC Chef’ Table event raised an unprecedented $1 million, the funds primarily earmarked for building the country’s first recuperative care center in partnership with CHOC. To date, Illumination Foundation leads the nation in providing recuperative care centers for adults – see IFRecuperativeCare.com. Now, this first-ever recuperative care for children and teens will provide a safe and secure place for homeless children who have been discharged from emergency rooms or recovering from surgery or hospitalization.

The March 2019 Chef’s Table event will also be devoted to more funding for this center’s completion.

2019 Participating Chefs

The OC Chef’s Table event has proven so popular that it continues to expand, this year culling more than 40 phenomenal chefs and reserving the largest ballroom Disneyland® Resort offers at its magnificent Disneyland® Hotel.

Chef Andrew Sutton of Napa Rose at the Disneyland® Resort is, once again, graciously hosting the event. His peers include many returning chefs, including Celebrity Chef Jet Tila from The Food Network, Chef Rich Mead from Newport Beach’s Farmhouse, Chefs Magellan Moore and Stephan LaFountain from Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, and this year’s Golden Foodie Restaurant of the Year winner Villa Roma with Chef Leo Razo.

New chefs joining these acclaimed ranks include Bourbon Steak’s Chef Bryan Brown, Capital Grille’s Chef Chris Hutten, Chef Greg Daniels from his new restaurant, the ballyhooed “Harley” arriving in Laguna Beach, and special guest Chef Jason Neroni from Venice’s uber-popular Rose Café.

An Evening Like No Other
When the top-ranked chefs in Orange County come together for the annual Illumination Foundation OC Chef’s Table at Disneyland® Hotel, you’re going to discover all sorts of magic afoot.

For starters, these talented chefs are typically creating an entirely original menu with course after course of their own favorites, culled from years of culinary innovation.

There’s something, too, about all these great chefs enjoying the rare opportunity to rub shoulders with one another and share new ideas. Far from a competition, OC Chef’s Table is an evening of light-hearted fun, a reunion of sorts between chefs who have cheered on each other’s rise to the top.

And, of course, there’s a magic in the cause itself, uniting extraordinary chefs with extraordinary hearts in a partnered decision to end the pain and separation of homelessness.

Blind Rabbit Takes Golden Foodie Awards

By Phil Metzger  •  Oct 1, 2018  •  Orange Coast Magazine

The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy in Anaheim’s Packing House, was a big winner Sunday at the annual Golden Foodie Awards in Newport Beach, taking home awards for bartender of the year, best cocktails, and best bar program. Blind Rabbit also features prominently in the current issue of Orange Coast, including a photo on the cover.

Ross Pangilnan, owner of the 2017 Best New Restaurant award, was named 2018 rising star chef of the year. He also just opened a new restaurant, Terrace by Mix Mix, at South Coast Plaza.

At Arc Food & Libations in Costa Mesa, Noah von Blom was named chef of the year.

Olea in Newport Beach,was named best new restaurant.

Pastry chef Jamon Harper at Aveo at Monarch Beach Resort was named pastry chef of the year. Harper recently revealed a new dessert menu at Aveo that includes a decadent off-menu sundae that’s a foot tall and features house-made gelato, fresh berries and candied almonds.

The Best Brunch award went to Taps Fish House & Brewery.

Annual OC Chef’s Table Expands Again for 2019

June 18, 2018 – Illumination Foundation’s popular OC Chef’s Table gala will be expanding again – in size and in number of chefs – for its March 3, 2019 event.

The Disneyland® Resort will be hosting the expanded event again, proving a committed, extraordinary sponsor for the increasingly popular event.

“In past years, we’ve enjoyed our event at the Disneyland® Grand Californian, but so many chefs want to be a part of this now that we had to look for even larger space at the Disneyland® Resort,” says Illumination Foundation Marketing Director Terry Campbell.

For the March 3rd evening, 42 chefs will be individually serving 10 guests at the landmark Disneyland® Hotel.

By expanding to accommodate another 10 acclaimed chefs, Illumination Foundation will be able to invite another 100 guests. The event has proven so popular that it typically sells out months in advance – with 10 more tables, the organization hopes to reach all those people who have tried and been denied in the past because of the fast sales.

Watch here in our blog and in our social media platforms to learn more about each of the new and returning chefs!

Purchase tables or individual tickets here.

Why OC Chef’s Table Is Such a Hit

Presented by Disneyland® Resort, The OC Chef’s Table is the year’s most anticipated event for two reasons:

1. The most lauded chefs of Orange County are all together in one room, pulling out all the stops to create the most memorable, magical dining experience for their guests.
2. These chefs return again and again for Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table because they’re ready for homelessness to be over.

The non-profit organization, Illumination Foundation (IF) was founded in 2007 with the sole mission to Break the Cycle of Homelessness.

In an effort to help IF with this vast, growing crisis, the greatest chefs of Orange County first came together in 2008 for the inaugural OC Chef’s Table.

Since then, the chef numbers have been expanding in ranks as these great chefs share the news with their lauded peers. They continue to return, giving generously of their time and culinary talents toward a specific need in the homeless community that Illumination Foundation immediately acts on.

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