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Category: Media Coverage

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.

Five Top Chefs in Laguna Beach Tapped for Renowned OC Chef’s Table

Feb 20, 2018 – TheBestofLagunaBeach.com

If you’re a foodie (like me), you probably dream that someday you’re going to have a great chef host a custom, never-seen-before and never-seen-again dinner for you and your closest friends.

With the Illumination Foundation’s return of its phenomenal OC Chef’s Table event on Sunday, March 18th, your dream just came true. And, here’s the topper to the best dream ever – aside from rubbing shoulders all evening with your own table’s Chef and 32 of Orange County’s most acclaimed culinary wunderkinds, the proceeds raised go to Illumination Foundation’s mission to end homelessness in Orange County.

Presented by Disneyland and brought to you by KPMG, Orange County’s most prestigious culinary fundraiser takes place again at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. A few tables and individual tickets for OC Chef’s Table are still available at: ifhomeless.org/occt2018

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.

OC Chef’s Table has tapped top talent from 18 cities, representing every section of “the orange,” from Brea to San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.

This year, Laguna Beach had a record five invitations to the event, with returning chefs Ron Fougeray (Splashes) and Andrew Gruel (who established Slapfish’s second restaurant in Laguna Beach after his founding restaurant in Huntington Beach). Chefs Rainer Schwarz (Driftwood Kitchen/The Deck/Hendrix), Azmin Ghahreman (Sapphire) and Arthur Ortiz (Skyloft) are newcomers to the event.

The OC Chef’s Table Hosting Chef is, again, Disneyland Resort’s Culinary Director of Signature Restaurants, Andrew Sutton. A longtime friend of Chef Schwarz, Sutton personally reached out to ask that Schwarz get involved in the event.

“It’s always great camaraderie when chefs are able to get together,” said Schwarz. “But when Andrew explained the cause and introduced me to what Illumination Foundation was doing, we were absolutely in.

I like knowing that we’re all doing something together here that causes such significant change,” he explained.

“It’s just such an honor to be a part of this circle of chefs,” said Skyloft’s Chef Arthur. “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 entry, our new neighboring 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.”

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 55 to 60 calls per 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 beautiful Stanton-based home that takes in homeless families with at least one child or pregnant woman.

Built from the ground up in just 7 months, it houses up to nine families at a time with large private bedrooms and baths for each family, new laundry facilities on both floors, a rambling community kitchen and living room, and a fenced, grassy yard for children to play in.

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.

Proceeds from this year’s OC Chef’s Table 2018 will go to the construction of the country’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 children who are recovering from an illness or medical procedure.

“Our goal is to build at least five emergency houses in Orange County, each with our foundational pillars of service and resource attached,” says Leon. “At that point, we will be helping more than 1,200 families each year get the footing they need to stabilize their lives.”

The One Visit That Resulted in Creating Illumination Foundation 

Celebrating its 10th year, Illumination Foundation “accidentally” came into being when Paul Leon crossed the bridge from “those people” to “our people” thinking.

While completing his MBA at UCI, he began working in the hospital as a qualified nurse to determine mother/baby risk for at-risk mothers. In the process, he made a visit to the OC Armory Emergency Shelter, which provides hot meals and sleeping quarters to at least 200 people nightly during cold weather months. He was astounded and appalled to see so many children in the facility, and took it upon himself to immediately find housing for a couple families whose children were extremely sick.

“In the weeks that ensued, I was consumed with trying to find housing for homeless families and realized it was tougher than I thought it was going to be – there simply was no housing,” says Leon.

“I took this issue back to my classroom and we began working on it as a class project. In short order, we had organized a medical team that began making ‘house calls’ to the homeless,” explains Leon.

From a classroom project idea, the Illumination Foundation has quickly grown to become a national example and leading advocate for breaking the cycle of homelessness. It addresses the issue in multi-pronged fashion, from establishing resource centers and children’s “after school” tutoring centers, to providing emergency and recuperative care housing, all while directly addressing vastly improved healthcare that includes substance abuse and mental health issues.

Perhaps the most telling statement of Illumination Foundation’s success: 30% of the Foundation’s staff is made up of people who were once homeless and helped by the organization.

“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.”

 

Illumination Foundation’s Annual OC Chef’s Table Brought Out Orange County’s Top Chefs

March 21, 2017 – LOCALE Magazine – It was a night filled with food and charity. The Illumination Foundation’s annual OC Chef’s Table charity gala took place on March 12 at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. The event brought out top chefs from around Orange County to raise money to build emergency houses for homeless families and give them the necessary resources to move forward. Over 30 tables were spread throughout the ballroom, each representing a chef, their restaurant, and the story their dishes told. With over 320 guests in attendance, including Kurt Russell, the event raised over $680,000 surpassing their original goal.

Chef Michael Doctulero: OC Chef’s Table fundraiser for homeless

March 7, 2017 – FOX ll NEWS – By: Michelle Pulfrey , Jeffrey Thomas DeSocio

Homelessness is becoming a reality for more and more Orange County families and their children. Since last year’s OC Chef’s Table, Illumination Foundation has constructed the Theriault Emergency House in Stanton, which has already housed over 20 families since Thanksgiving week and is on track to provide services to over 200 families per year.

This year Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table will raise funds to expand the housing program and serve twice as many families in the coming years. The funds raised at this year’s OC Chef’s Table will help Illumination Foundation build an emergency home for homeless families with children in Orange County, and will likely serve an additional 200 families per year.

Our goal is to raise over $500,000 at the culinary gala to make this dream home a reality for our most vulnerable children and their families. A second emergency home will take twice as many families directly off the streets and into a stable environment where they can focus on healing and moving towards self-sufficiency, as the children focus on their education and childhood, rather than their next meal or shelter.

An emergency home is a family’s first step towards self-sufficiency, and a safe-haven where they can receive case management and mental health services while our team works alongside them to find permanent housing and any other services the family may need.  This emergency home will rekindle hope for local families looking to break out of inter-generational and chronic homelessness.

Please help us to promote this year Illumination Foundation’s second annual OC Chef’s Table that will be on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, to raise funds for the construction of a second emergency home for homeless families with small children.

OC Chef’s Table is one of the county’s most exclusive charitable culinary events. OC’s top celebrity chefs come together to create a delectable and spectacular five-course meal prepared tableside at tables decorated to reflect the personality and brand of each participating restaurant and to impress the very sophisticated guests. This year’s over 30 participating chefs include Andrew Sutton of Napa Rose, Stephen LaFountain of Mastro’s, Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, Beau Macmillan of Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa and Pascal Olhats of Pascal.

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