The Orange County Chef Mixes Good Food and Doing Good With His Charity Efforts
Written By: Diego E. Gaxiola
Photographed By: Roberto Cerini Craft House Charity Event
Chef Blake Mellgren of the phenomenal Craft House is combining his passion for cooking with his desire to make a difference in his community. Serving as the Executive Chef and Owner of the Dana Point restaurant and bar, Chef Mellgren’s continued involvement in life-changing charities has helped to positively alter the lives of the youth across Southern California.
Born and raised in Orange County, Chef Mellgren began exploring the art of cooking at a young age, from watching the Food Network on repeat to cooking delicious meals for his family. At 10 years old, he offered to prepare a meal for his family’s traditional Sunday night dinner. Your average 10-year-old would most likely boil a pot of spaghetti, heat up some sauce and, bon appétit, dinner is served! However, the chef-to-be took that Sunday night dinner to the next level, devising a mouth-watering, three-course meal for his family. Chef Mellgren recalls, “I did clam and corn chowder, filet with fresh baked potatoes and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert.” Needless to say, his family loved the meal, and from then on, his cooking continued to grace the plates of his family and friends.
In July of 2010, while attending school at Loyola Marymount University, he was hired at famed restaurant Chez Melange in beautiful Redondo Beach. After finishing up his first day of work at the restaurant, Chef Mellgren was set on pursuing a career in the restaurant industry. In the two years following, he was given the exciting opportunity to work under the tutelage of Chez Melange’s Chef Robert Bell, continuing to perfect his craft and gain worthwhile knowledge surrounding kitchen management. Now, nearly a decade later, Chef Mellgren has achieved his long-time dream of opening and running his own restaurant in the same Orange County community he grew to love as a kid.
Craft House, founded in March of 2016, focuses on local sourcing, sustainable seafood and the craft of making delicious food and drinks. Expanding on his restaurant’s core values, Chef Mellgren explains, “We work with Harbor Fish Company for our supply of sustainably-harvested fish.” His focus on investing in local businesses is something he feels sets his restaurant apart from others and allows him to truly appreciate all that Orange County has to offer. Seeing first-hand how rewarding community involvement can be, Chef Mellgren decided to utilize his impressive talents to create change.
This past March, he took part in the annual fundraising event known as Table for Ten, a gathering that supports The Teen Project, which aims to eliminate teen homelessness. Chef Mellgren explains, “The Teen Project helps foster kids receive long-term housing and get them off the streets.” Table for Ten features top Southern California chefs working to create outstanding dishes being served to 10 guests. Each table is meticulously designed and decorated, from flower arrangements to place settings, to create an overall stunning dining experience for guests. Chef Mellgren feels it is extremely important as a community leader to give back to those in need of support and was honored to be able to do what he loves while benefiting youth within his own community
Craft House is also excited to be returning to Southern California’s Tanaka Farms to take part in MaxLove Project’s 5th Annual Farm to Fork Dinner. MaxLove Project is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization founded with the mission of helping kids in cancer survivorship continue to thrive in their lives. Chef Mellgren describes what initially inspired and motivated the MaxLove Project, stating, “A few years back, the founder’s son, Max, was diagnosed with a brain tumor while in kindergarten.” One thing Max’s parents noticed while their son received treatment was the lack of access to practical, whole-body wellness focused specifically on children. MaxLove Project focuses on providing resources to families, from nutritional help to social support, with the goal of helping children thrive during treatment and beyond. Max’s touching story, along with MaxLove Project’s mission to promote integrative health care, truly resonated with Chef Mellgren and is what drives him to continue to take part in this amazing nonprofit organization. The Farm to Fork Dinner benefiting MaxLove Project is taking place on Sept. 21, 2019 and you can learn more about the thrilling event by visiting their website.
With all the good he has already done and all the good he continues to do, we can’t wait to see what Chef Mellgren does next! There truly is something to be said about giving back to your community, especially when it’s giving back in a way you’re passionate about. Feel inspired by this story? Find your own volunteering opportunities here.
34094 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629