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Good Food and a Good Cause in Orange County

Written By: Jeff Cooper Table For Ten: Using Food as a Delicious Charity
Photographed By: Ruben Hens

Table For Ten brings together delicious food and great causes to create an amazing night. The event, started by Event Director Kristin Martin over 10 years ago, brings together about 32 chefs with 1-2 charities each year for a night of Orange County’s finest food and philanthropy!

Each chef or sponsor hosts a table of ten and each chef donates and creates a 5-6 course meal paired with wine and cocktails to delight their guests. The tables are decorated individually, each providing a unique dining experience—guests also receive table gifts and can participate in a live auction titled “The Best of Chefs.” What better way to highlight local restaurants, chefs, and support a good cause all at once?

This year, the event benefits Vocational Visions, an organization that provides programs and services for people with a broad range of disabilities. Some of the chefs participating in this year’s event work with Vocational Visions clients on a daily basis in their kitchens, which makes the event extra personal and impactful for everyone involved. Vocational Visions is a truly special organization making a real impact in our community, and it is a more than worthy cause of this events sponsorship!

Interview with: Joan McKinney, Vocational Visions Director and Mike Danzi, Event Supporter/Organization Representative

Q: Tell me about Vocational Visions.

Joan McKinney: Our vision is that people with disabilities can be accepted as equals. They are often left without a voice in this community and we give them that voice and support our clients in making a positive impact in their own lives. Our mission is to develop talents to create pathways to lifelong learning, community and employment opportunities for our clients. The organization was established in 1974, is going on 41 years strong, and we have grown considerably during that time. We serve over 500 individuals and employ over 200 people.

Q: Who are your clients?

JM: We serve a broad spectrum of disability—we have people that we help find jobs for in the community, at stores, offices, or even at the Montage in the kitchen! We want to help people be as independent as they can. At the other end of the spectrum, we provide day programs for people who are severely disabled or maybe need nursing support, often very personal care that we can help them with. We provide programs with a lot of sensory stimulation to people who don’t have other outlets, community outings to see the ocean, music therapy, and even massage therapy programs to promote health and provide relief. In between these extreme ranges, we have a wide range of support, to provide people what we take for granted everyday, independence and freedom.

Despite being dealt a tough hand in life, our clients come everyday to build a life that is meaningful. Vocational Visions has a large range of programs to support people, even programs just for fun to do things like sing karaoke and dance, to have fun and enjoy life a little bit more!

Q: How is Vocational Visions connected to this year’s Table For Ten event?

Mike Danzi: We connected with Table For Ten through Kristin, who started the event. Table For Ten is an amazing vehicle to get the awareness out about Vocational Visions. I have seen the amazing work of Vocational Visions, and this is an amazing platform to build awareness for the organization. We have our annual gala events, like many charities do, but this introduces us to a new audience.

Q: Besides the amazing exposure and generosity of the event, what else are you looking forward to as a benefit from Table For Ten?

MD: People interact with the organization’s clients every day, but want to know the backstory. We not only hope to reach people looking for support, but also employers who want to hire people in our programs. We are really looking forward to this collaboration, and we are excited to work with the amazing chefs for a great cause! You will never find an employee who wants to do their job better or come to work more reliably—our clients want to meet and then exceed their potential, that’s what we want for our clients and they want for themselves.

Interview with: Salvatore Giuliano, Executive Chef of The Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa

Q: Is this your first Table For Ten event?

Salvatore Giuliano: This is my first personal experience with the event, but members of the team here have been involved before. I am really looking forward to hosting the event here at The Laguna Cliffs Marriott!

Q: What is your role at this year’s event?

SG: This year I will be hosting the chefs, helping them feel comfortable and making sure everyone has the ingredients they need. My sous chef and I are hosting a table this year, which will be a lot of fun!

Q: How will you keep everything organized in the kitchen on the night of the event?

SG: I run a nice, peaceful kitchen everyday—it is important, and my guests feel that. When chefs have a great time, so do the diners! Table For Ten will be no different, and now I am conductor of this event!

Q: Have you been at this location for a long time?

SG: I have been here since September, I love this property and I have had a wonderful experience. I can’t complain watching the Pacific Ocean all day! I am looking forward to the future here.

Q: What are you looking forward to this spring at the resort?

SG: This is a beautiful property; we do a great breakfast buffet every day, which I hope people come to enjoy even if they are not able to attend this event! I am Italian so I create a lot of Italian menu items. We have amazing flatbreads and put an emphasis on organic, local options, and have vegan options as well. My wife has a degree in nutrition, so it shapes and influences my cooking.

I am looking forward to seeing this event to completion—I want to have fun while providing a great night and experience, and really presenting the organization well.

Interview with: Pascal Olhats, Owner/Chef Pascal’s and Café Jardin

Q: This isn’t your first time supporting this event. How long have you been a part of it?

Pascal Olhats: I was one of the first chefs to be involved with this charity event. Most years I have contributed. I look forward to this year; it will be really special supporting such a great cause!

Q: What specifically are you looking forward to about this year?

PO: My participation is a partnership with Anne Manassero, we are co-hosting the reception this year. We are doing farm to table items, and serving appetizers and beverages. Everything is fresh and local!

Q: Are there any inspirations you are drawing from this year when constructing your menu?

PO: We will be bringing whatever is in season, whatever is most fresh and local. We will be serving coffee, cocktails and more. The reception is before the dinner event—a pre-dinner time to relax and begin the experience.

Q: What is your connection to Manassero Farms?

PO: I am the resident chef on the Manassero Farm, so we work together often and decided this would be a nice way for us all to be involved. During the event I am here to assist the other chefs, with coordination and take care of everyone behind the scenes to foster the chef friendship.

Q: Tell me a bit about the farm’s participation.

PO: Anne is offering produce from the farms for the chefs to use in their dishes for the evening—give a local flair and quality. I really look forward to the chefs using these local, fresh and in-season foods!

Interview with: Casey Overton, Chef de Cuisine at The Loft at The Montage

Q: How long have you been with The Montage?

Casey Overton: I have been at the Montage for 10 years and a part of this event for 5 years. I am excited to be involved with Vocational Visions. The Montage has supported the organization for a long time and we work with Vocational Visions clients’ everyday at our restaurant. I see the benefit of this charity everyday and I am excited to support them this year.

Q: What are you bringing to this year’s event?

CO: We do a 5-6 course menu on the night of the event. At The Loft we focus on creative American cuisine. It will be seasonably inspired and it is our way to say thank you to those attending the event.

Q: Any special menu items this year?

CO: I love the spring season, there are so many fresh ingredients, we have a lot of great produce every time of year here. I like to be creative and spontaneous when creating the menu—not too far ahead, so no exact plans yet!

Interview with: Yvon Goetz, Executive Chef/Partner, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

Q: What do you love most about your restaurants?

Yvon Goetz: We have two locations, one in Tustin and another in Newport Beach, which both offer unparalleled wine options and an amazing dining experience to our guests!

Q: Have you participated in this event before?

YG: I have done it in the past. We support different charities each year and I am looking forward to this year’s collaboration. We will be hosting a table to support the event and to promote the foundation. We want to have a fun time and eat great food!

Q: What can our readers look forward to from The Winery?

YG: We hope to be expanding into the brunch scene—keep an eye out for that in the spring.  Eating brunch looking out at the harbor will be really special!


For more information about attending the Table For Ten Culinary Event March 6th, 2016,  click here.

T A B L E /// Manners. Table for Ten is Serving Delicious Food for a Great Cause.