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

Written By: Adriana Chavez OC Chef’s Table
Photos By: Impact Imaging by Stephanie Hill, FotoShout, and Lawrence Mien 

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.

“We promised last year that we are raising money for a house. We have that house now. It is a great honor and we are very happy that with your help we were able to fulfill one of our first dreams. Theriault House is ready to house only this year 180 families, over 400 children.  But tonight we have even bigger dreams and plans,” said Illumination Foundation CEO and President Paul Leon.

Sponsored by Disneyland Resort, Arcuri-Cutrell Coldwell Banker Commercial, Wells Fargo, and many others, this year held the first ever Battle of the Chefs between Chefs Michael Doctulero of Waterman’s Harbor and Chef Jennifer Ravalo of SuShe Art, who won the title with her all-female staff. The event also featured a silent auction with premium items ranging from luxurious vacations to exclusive signed memorabilia, adding to the final tally of funds raised.

The chefs all hailed from different types of restaurants, which provided a variety of tastes. The featured chefs this year included Gino Buonanoce and Salvatore Ferrara from Antonello, Niki Starr from MESA, Brian Jenzer from SOCIAL, Ron Fougeray from Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort, Kevin Meyer from Tanner’s at Pasea Hotel & Resort, Erne Alvarado from URBANA Mexican Gastronomy and many more.

Each table featured a five-course meal, curated by a chef and their staff, so no two tables had the same one. Dishes ranged from seafood to steak, each having a unique twist and personalized style. Tables were decorated to the nines giving guests plenty to look at throughout the night. Some of the standout tables included Antonello, whose table was an under the sea dream, decorated with fish and chairs covered in seaweed. Filomena’s Italian Kitchen channeled a masquerade ball, giving each guest their own mask. The theme paired perfectly with one of their main dishes, Filomena’s Wedding Soup. Disney’s own Napa Rose featured a classic table adorned with flower centerpieces and candles. For their final main dish, they wowed with a Berry and Herb Roasted “Buffalo Chateaubriand.”

With the funds raised, the Illumination Foundation is working on acquiring the land this year to break ground on the new home that will house over 200 homeless families.

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