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Grateful Table

A community serving those who serve

By Andy Hume

This past October, Orange County residents came out to support local restaurant workers at the 2019 Grateful Table® event put on by the California Restaurant Association.

Sharing one table, 10 chefs and 160 food-loving locals bore witness to the season’s greatest meal at the OC Fair & Event Center and raised more than $76,000 to benefit the Restaurants Care® fund, an organization that reaches out to restaurant families in need through one-time emergency assistance grants.

Among the local star chefs at this year’s event were Kyung Soo Carroll of Sheraton Fairplex Hotel, Arthur Gonzalez of Panxa Cocina, and Dominique Valenzuela of JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa.

The OC Fair & Event Center proved to be the perfect venue for the ultimate fall feast with a menu that featured Torched Citrus-Cured Hamachi, Baseball Steak with Creamy Chimichurri, Jumbo Lump Crab Mac and Cheese, and a liquid nitrogen ice cream station. Each dinner course was accompanied by a few words from a Restaurants Care grant recipient.

When local server Carlos went to the ER last April because he wasn’t feeling well, the diagnosis turned out to be more than he could have ever imagined: kidney failure, respiratory failure, liver and gallbladder inflammation, and a lowering heart rate. He had an extremely rare disease that required him to be put into a medically induced coma. But just because Carlos wasn’t able to work didn’t mean his rent and utility bills stopped. Thankfully, Restaurants Care was able to help him in this catastrophic time of need.

Another grant recipient, Irene, found bills mounting after she started caring for her prematurely born and drug-exposed niece, Suehay. Irene had already raised three children and was working full-time as a restaurant manager, thinking her child-raising days were behind her, but she stepped up and did what she could to help her niece. After medical expenses, daycare, and everyday life added up, Irene was down to $1.50 in her bank account. She was grateful to have received a cash grant at just the right time. Two years later, Irene is working for a major food distributor through her connections from the first Grateful Table event, has officially adopted Suehay, and recently purchased a home.  Restaurants Care understands that any one of us can experience a bump in the road, illness, or sudden tragedy and aims to be able to provide for fellow industry members in need.

“Restaurants are known for taking care of people,” says California Restaurant Foundation Executive Director Alycia Harshfield, “and the magic of an evening like The Grateful Table is coming together to raise funds to serve those who serve. I’m very moved by the generous spirit of our restaurant community and the safety net we are able to provide.” Stay tuned for information on The Grateful Table 2020 coming next fall, where you too can help pay it forward.