Getting Into The Giving Spirit

Greetings and Happy Fall to all of you!

November is always a quiet month right before holiday season chaos, so it’s a good time to devote some energy to something I really enjoy.  We help charity organizations often throughout the year, but this month I’m excited to be more involved than catering, donating to live auctions, or simply writing a donation check.  This month, I’ve been able to help organize events with my friends around the city, and as you’ll see, I’m learning so much…

PEERS Annual Gala

When people ask me to help, I’m usually inclined to say yes and “You can count on me.”  This time I am the one reaching out to all of you.

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I am involved with a local philanthropic group called PEERS (Philanthropy, Entrepreneurism, Environment, Relationships & Social Endeavors).  Our members work to give back to the San Diego community by helping to enhance and improve the philanthropic pursuits of members while providing a network to encourage entrepreneurship. This year, PEERS is holding their 2nd Annual Gala on November 13th in Rancho Santa Fe to help support the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF).  TKF is dedicated to breaking the cycle of youth violence by empowering kids, saving lives and teaching peace.

I ask you to help make this event a success by attending or simply making a donation directly to PEERS.  I trust that, with your help, we can have a sold out event and raise a lot of support for such a worthy foundation.

A brief background on how TKF was formed:

Tariq Khamisa, age 20, was killed on January 21, 1995 by a 14-year-old gang member. His assailant, Tony Hicks, shot him on orders from an 18-year-old gang leader.  After his son’s murder, Azim Khamisa didn’t demand revenge, instead he saw two children lost – one forever, and one to the state prison system. “From the onset, I saw victims on both ends of the gun,” says Azim Khamisa, “I will mourn Tariq’s death for the rest of my life. Now, however, my grief has been transformed into a powerful commitment to change. Change is urgently needed in a society where children kill children,” he said.

Azim established the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) in October 1995 to honor his son. He reached out to Ples Felix, Tony Hicks’ grandfather and guardian, who joined Azim in his dedication to end youth violence. Together, Azim and Ples began presenting Violence Impact Forum (VIF) assemblies to thousands of children to share the “power of forgiveness” to break the cycle of violence.

Please come help us break the cycle of youth violence. Tickets are $100 per person, (After October 21st- $125). Support TKF while having an incredible time at a wonderful estate home in Rancho Santa Fe. If you would like more information, please give me a call, or to buy your tickets, click here.

Challenged Athletes Foundation

Once again this year I was able to participate in the San Diego Triathlon Challenge to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Thanks to my dear friend, Dr. David Smotrich, who sponsors us every year, we had three relay teams to complete the whole race.  Of course I chose the bike part, since it’s my favorite sport.

Throughout the race I chatted with incredible athletes who, because of missing legs or paralysis, used hand cycles and pushed through the 56 mile bike course along Rancho Santa Fe, La Costa and back to the coast.  It was a grueling course for me, but before I could feel sorry for myself, sure enough one of my dear friends and an unbelievable athlete, “One Arm Willy,” pulled up next to me.  I said, “Willy let me take a photo of you while I can,” and he said, “You better hurry up before I drop you!” As soon as I heard the camera click, he took off, flying ahead of me.

There were many athletes in the Triathlon just like Willy who share a deep passion for sports. Participating in the Challenge was truly a terrific experience for me, and I respect all the athletes who overcame their challenges and did the hard work it takes to reach competitive levels.

To learn more about the organization, please visit them at and support them any way you can.  This year, they raised over 1 million dollars, and we hope next year they’ll see even greater growth and success.  Until then, to all my challenged athlete friends: train hard, achieve your goals and remember that I will always be there for you when you need me.

* A special note to David:
Not only you are one of my best friends, but you are one of the most amazingly generous men I know.  Thanks to people like you, our community is more inspired to support our charities.  It’s time for everyone to give back, just like you!

A Moment To Reflect

Let me take this opportunity to thank all of the charity event gala chairs who’ve given us the opportunity to work together.  This past year has been a record year for us as far as catering high profile local functions. I think back six years ago to the conversations I used to have with my wife Salem at the dinner table. Many nights we asked ourselves how we would ever get to work with all the organizations we considered the cream of the crop.  We weren’t always sure how, but we knew we’d always strive for it. It turns out the answer is to follow your vision and work hard, to stay true to yourself, and to communicate who you are by what you do. And enjoy yourself along the way…

I remember we would get so excited to book charity events that were just starting out with sometimes 100 to 150 people. But today we regularly cater established galas that involve thousands of community members and make a huge financial impact on their charities each year. We do our part, of course, with donations of money, auction tickets, and our participation and attendance. (By the way, kudos to Salem for being designated “Best Dressed” by San Diego Magazine at the Montecarlo Gala at the Museum of Contemporary Arts.)  So I feel very thankful that we’ve reached this point, and I look forward to a great holiday season and prosperous 2011!

Celebrity Chefs Tour

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Ok, usually I feature the Dish of The Month on each Giornale, but this time I am going to ask you to come hang out with me, and you can get two recipes this time…

A while ago I was contacted by a Production Company about participating in the Celebrity Chefs Tour (“Celebrity”…Wow, that is a big word. It feels a little weird.) What they do is organize cooking shows on stages all around the country.  The next show will be in San Diego on Sunday, November 14th from 12noon to 4pm at Anthology downtown.

The theme “Thanksgiving to Remember” will bring together Chefs from the East Coast, myself, a local mixologist, and a fabulous pastry chef to close out the event.  Guests will get cooking demonstrations and samples of the food prepared on stage, all while enjoying mimosas and other fun demonstrations.

So I invite you to spend some time with me on November 14th.  I would love to see familiar faces, and I am going to create a couple of easy recipes that you can serve to your family and friends at your own amazing thanksgiving dinner.  Tickets are limited to 250, so don’t wait too long! To purchase tickets, click here or go to

Wait, There’s More!

Thank you so much to everyone who voted us Best Catering Company once again and one of the best outdoor cafes in the 2010 La Jolla Light Readers’s Poll. I appreciate your patronage and support, and on behalf of my family and my entire company, I want to thank you once again!!

Don’t forget to place your orders for Thanksgiving (Specialty Menu & 2010 Holiday Menu), and make sure to book your holiday party right away.  We are almost sold out for the month of December.

As always I have a ton of news, like projects at our cafes, new menu ideas for 2011, the dates for my cooking engagements at Macy’s and so much more.  But I’m going to save these announcements for the next issue of the Giornale.  So stay tuned!

Until then,

Mangia Bene e Vivi Meglio