Chefs for Charity

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Newport Beach chefs are a talented bunch, and a philanthropic bunch. There are many who are always happy to give back to the community.

Two of the biggest chef-driven charity events occur a week apart in March at opposite ends of the county.

Up first on March 1 is OC Chef’s Table benefitting Illumination Foundation, which works to get homeless families off the street.

OC Chef’s Table is a black-tie event held in the ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel. It features 40 chefs from Orange County and Los Angeles preparing multi-course meals tableside with elaborate décor to match.

Chefs pose with Mickey Mouse at the OC Chef’s Table breakfast meeting in January. — Photo by Christopher Trela ©

But this is not simply cuisine from the restaurant menus. Diners enjoy a variety of courses featuring signature dishes and new creations from each chef, making this a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

One of the local chefs participating in this year’s OC Chef’s Table event is Rich Mead, owner and executive chef at Farmhouse in Corona Del Mar. He participates in this event year after year.

“I felt it was a great opportunity to do something to help people in a fun environment, at a time when people need to step up in our country and be positive,” Mead said.

Other local participating chefs include: Jonathan Blackford, executive chef at A Restaurant and CdM Restaurant + Bar; Chris Simons, executive chef of Andrea at Pelican Hill Resort; Peter Petro, executive chef, and Corey Muir, chef de cuisine, both at Bosscat Kitchen & Libations; Riley Huddleston, executive chef partner at Lido House; Magellan Moore, executive chef at Mastro’s Ocean Club; Jared Cook, executive chef at Olea; and Noah Moreno of True Food Kitchen.

Oh — and let’s not forget Linda Johnson, chef/owner of Filomena’s Italian Kitchen, a couple of blocks over the Newport border.

“I continue to participate with the charity because they need us,” Johnson said. “Without our involvement in the event, they would not be able to raise such an incredible amount of money to continue the amazing work they do for the homeless community.”

Food Network Celebrity Chef Jet Tila and Executive Chef Andrew Sutton for Signature Restaurants at Disneyland Resort are leading the event.

OC Chef’s Table begins at 5 p.m. with a reception, followed by the dinner and presentations. Tickets start at $1,250 per person.

For more information, visit OCChefsTable.com.

One week later on March 8 is the Table for Ten chef event at Laguna Cliff’s Marriott Resort and Spa. This year, the event benefits Make a Wish Orange County and Inland Empire, which provides life-changing wish experiences for children battling critical illnesses. Since 1983, the chapter has granted more than 7,000 wishes to children living in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Table for Ten showcases 40 of Southern California’s top chefs who create incredible multi-course dinners tableside for 10 guests. Exquisite wines will be paired with the cuisine, and the tables are elaborately decorated by each restaurant.

Table for Ten chefs from Newport Beach pose for a photo: (L to R) Erik Sandven, executive chef at Coliseum Pool & Grill at Pelican Hill Resort; Andy Arndt, executive chef at Marriott Newport Beach; Pascal Olhats, executive chef at Café Jardin; Jessica Roy, executive chef at Café Jardin; and Riley Huddleston, executive chef at The Mayor’s Table at Lido House Hotel. — Photo by Bob Hodson ©

Also included is a festive cocktail reception and exotic auction items, which showcases “Best of Chefs” dining experiences, luxury goods and trips to exotic locales.

Two Newport Beach chefs who will be hosting a decadent oyster display at the reception are Pascal Olhats and Jessica Roy of Café Jardin at Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar.

Scallops from Chef Jessica Roy at the 2019 Table for Ten event. — Photo by Christopher Trela ©

Olhats is a legend in OC, having owned and operated some of the most noted restaurants in the area for 30 years. Roy won the Food Network show “Guy’s Grocery Games” last year, and has displayed brilliance in her execution of familiar yet exotic dishes (she loves working with liquid nitrogen). The Olhats-Roy duo always have something fun up their sleeves — make that their aprons.

Other Newport chefs participating in Table for Ten include: Markus Hagen from Cannery Seafood of the Pacific; Erik Sandven and Diego Bernal of Coliseum Pool & Grill at The Resort at Pelican Hill; Andy Arndt from Newport Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; Frank Gorriceta from Nobu Newport Beach; Riley Huddleston from The Mayor’s Table at Lido House Hotel; David Martin from The Pacific Club; Noe Moreno from True Food Kitchen; and Linda Johnson, chef/owner of the Newport neighboring Filomena’s Italian Kitchen.

A couple of my favorite out-of-the-area chefs are also participating: Keith Prante of Hauté Productions; Adam Navidi of Ocean’s & Earth in Yorba Linda; and brilliant young chef Zach Geerson, formerly of Journeyman’s.

Tickets are $1,000 per person and not many remain. For more information and tickets, visit TableForTen.org.

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