The California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF) announced that this year’s The Grateful Table, the unique farm-inspired dinner that gives back to the hardworking people who run our communities’ restaurants – cooks, chefs, bussers, servers and dishwashers raised more than $90,000.

The Grateful Table, which raises much-needed dollars for restaurant workers who face unexpected hardship, was held on Saturday, October 27 at 6 p.m. at the OC Fair & Event Center. Thanks to this event, now in its second year, California’s restaurant community raised more than $90,000 to benefit Restaurants Care, the program that helps restaurant workers who find themselves facing a financial emergency stemming from illness, accidents, and natural disasters, including two consecutive years of wildfires that displaced thousands of Californians.

“On every other day of the year, these restaurant employees take care of others – this is our chance to help take care of them,” says Alycia Harshfield, executive director of CRAF.  “The recipients are from all over Northern and Southern California and, in many cases, they are reluctant to ask for help, even when they most need a hand in life. It’s often others in their lives who encourage them to apply for one of our grants.”

One of the recipients of a grant from Restaurants Care is Arturo Garcia, who has worked for a restaurant in Anaheim for 24 years. After going to the emergency room one day with a sudden pain in his stomach, Arturo wound up needing emergency surgery. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with renal disease and has been on dialysis while awaiting a kidney transplant. Due to his illness, he has only been able to work a third of the number of hours he used to, which has decimated his household income. Restaurants Care was able to step in with a grant to help Arturo, his wife, and their four children with rent and household bills. This year’s dinner featured Arturo as a guest speaker.

Funding for the grants, which cover basic living expenses to help employees and their families get back on their feet, comes from a variety of sources, including corporate sponsorships and personal donations.

“The Grateful Table is a time when the restaurant community can come together and show appreciation for the workforce and hear from those who have benefitted from the grants,” Harshfield says.

Guests enjoyed a twilight reception, along with the culinary creations of celebrated chefs who are building a five-course menu.

Celebrated Chefs:

  • Penny Davidi – Food Network Star + Sysco Los Angeles
  • Katsuji Tanabe – The Nixon
  • Hector Zamora – Avenue of the Arts Hotel
  • Hugo Miranda –  Sonoma Grill
  • Denise Portillo – True Nourishment
  • Benjamin Udave –  Sysco Los Angeles
  • Gabriel Caliendo – Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
Industry News, Philanthropy