Local Chefs Help Raise $450K for Unconditional Dog Rescue at Chef Masters Culinary Event in Laguna Beach

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The Winery Restaurant chefs at the Chef Masters event / photo by Chris Trela

Nearly three dozen chefs and 320 guests were barking up the “right” tree at the Chef Masters culinary extravaganza held October 16 at the Festival of Arts grounds in Laguna Beach, which helped raise $450,000 for Unconditional, a senior and special needs dog rescue.

The evening began with a two-hour gourmet food and wine reception—some might call it Yappy Hour in honor of the nonprofit’s furry clients. Chefs from top local restaurant – including many from Newport Beach and Laguna Beach – served signature bites.

C’est la Vie in Laguna Beach had an enticing display of colorful desserts, Splashes in Laguna Beach served delicious pumpkin spice gelato in small waffle cones, Balboa Bay Resort’s A+O restaurant offered savory braised short ribs, The Winery Newport’s Chef Yvon Goetz created a delicious roasted lamb belly with quinoa tabouleh and pomegranate harissa glaze, and legendary OC Chef Pascal Olhats had fresh oysters and mussels courtesy of Baja Shellfish.

The best decorations of the night went to Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach. Their whimsical display took a page or two from “Alice in Wonderland,” with signage and décor straight from the book, with costumed staff to match. Even the food would have pleased both Alice and the Mad Hatter, with desserts that said “Eat me” written in chocolate and small bottles of green liquid labeled “Drink me.”

Pelican Hill Resort delighted guests with an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter’s Tea Party theme / photo by Bob Hodson with Corey Sandler

Other local restaurant taking part: Terra Laguna Beach, A Restaurant Crystal Cove, Cannery Seafood of the Pacific, Nirvana Grille, and Suenos Laguna Beach.

After guests had their fill of the culinary tastes and sips form such wineries as Daou, Duckhorn and Goldeneye, guests made their way to tables for dessert and raffle drawings.

Desserts from C’est La Vie in Laguna Beach / photo by Chris Trela

Proceeds from the event totaled $450,000 and went to Unconditional, a Laguna Beach-based nonprofit co-founded by Amy and JulIan Mack, who were at the event with three of their rescue dogs. The group is on track to build an 8,000 sq. ft. rescue and adoption center for senior and special needs dogs, due to open in Laguna Beach in late 2023.

Unconditional Co-Founders Amy and Julian Mack with their dogs StanLee (Amy holding), Levi, left, and Oona, right / Photo by Bob Hodson with Corey Sandler

“Of the 14,000 shelters and rescue groups in the US, only 40 are dedicated to helping senior and special needs dogs and many of them are incredibly under-resourced,” said Amy Mack. “We are dedicated to finding loving homes for these animals, and, believe me, the experience is very rewarding.”

Unconditional Executive Director Peter Chang followed up, saying, a sister entity called Rise Pet Care is also being launched by Amy and Julian.

“It’s a separate for-profit run specialty animal hospital, which will be open to the public, but more importantly, it will also provide all the medical care needed for the animals at Unconditional at no cost,” Chang said.

Especially thanked were $100,000 Title Sponsor, Carlo’s Fund; $$25,000 Platinum Sponsors, The Bone Adventure, The Fatty Sullivan Giving Fund for Dogs That Can’t Woof Good, and Mary Murfey; and the $10,000 Gold Sponsors JustFoodForDogs, L Catterton, Petco Love, and Peter & Paula Fasseas Foundation.

Chef Prabeen Prathapan_Balboa Bay Resort, right, with A&O Chef Rusty Richardson, left / Photo by Bob Hodson with Corey Sandler

Chef Masters Founder/Producer Kristin Martin was recognized as well.

The evening concluded with dancing to the popular band Flashback Heart Attack.

For more information visit https://www.unconditionalrescue.org and www.ChefMasters.org/Unconditionalrescue.org.

Chef Pascal Olhats_Pascal Catering / Photo by Bob Hodson with Corey Sandler
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