ARTS (A Reason To Survive)

Greetings and Happy March to all of you!!

Do you sometimes wonder why you have a connection to someone, something or someplace?
For me, I seem to have a strong connection with the arts. Yes, art! Does it surprise you that I’m not just a fitness-obsessed chef?

I believe the reason that art draws me in so much is my passion for food as a culinary art. All of us chefs serve as artists, but instead of paint, we create dishes designed to wow the palate, as well as the eyes.

So it can’t be too much of a coincidence that I set up shop at two of the most prestigious art organizations in California, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the San Diego Museum of Art. Often I find myself involved with more museums, art exhibits, fundraisers for  arts-related causes, galleries. You name a type of art event and surely we’ve taken part in some way. And while we’re glad to be serving the art community, there is one organization is that is particularly dear to me, so I want to share this little story with you…

It was about 6 years ago, and I had just sold what was my little bakery in the Village. I started focusing more on catering and special events with a goal in mind to be one of the top caterers in the city.  Just like any rookie in our industry, I was often asked to participate in events pro bono in order to increase our exposure and start building our business.

Marsi Gardiner, a dear friend and regular customer for many years contacted me and said, “G, we have a good opportunity for you. I am hosting a fundraiser at my house for this organization called ARTS.  I can’t explain what it is now, but you should come.”  Marsi says the word “YOU SHOULD” to me more than my mom ever did, but thanks to Marsi I got connected with this amazing organization. I am completely impressed by the work ARTS has done in just a few years since that evening.

ARTS (A Reason to Survive) was founded by Matt D’Arrigo who, in his early years, experienced the sadness of losing his mother to cancer. Matt found comfort in painting, since it helped him feel connected to his mother. He founded ARTS to give kids an opportunity to get away from the sad moments. They’re often struggling with other challenges – some abused, some abandoned and some dying themselves from diseases with no cure.  Matt’s incredible story and the mission behind ARTS is online here.

When I was 18, I lost my best friend, Luigi Paolo. We spent all of our childhood together. We went to the same school, played soccer together, went on double dates with girls. We were inseparable. But after a long battle with leukemia, Luigi Paolo was taken and I was devasted. Even after over 20 years, I still feel the loss.  I cry, dream about him often and wish he was here. So I really value the healing that ARTS offers young people. I know that just like me, there are many young people who need help dealing with the loss of friends and family.

The Art Center was built a few years ago in honor of Matt’s mother, Pat D’Arrigo.  The center is designed to help kids through their sad moments, or comfort them while receiving treatments, and ofcourse to offer painting and other activities as a break from the effects of illness.

Well I can honestly go on for hours about ARTS. But let me just close by saying that if you can help to make positive change, don’t wait. Even small actions help hundreds of kids on a daily basis. And in turn they leave a mark on our lives in many ways, like the inspiration we get from their brave lives or a painting we hang proudly that represents they joy they felt while they were still here.

If you wish to support ARTS, please visit their website, The Board of Directors will be hosting an event in honor of Christian Hoff, “Tony Award” winner with Jersey Boys, on March 11th at the Art center. Of course the food is by Giuseppe Fine Catering, so I hope to see you there!