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.”