OC Chef's Table 2016: Why Chefs Give Back

Preview of one of Pascal's OC Chef's Table courses.
Preview of one of Pascal's OC Chef's Table courses.
Pascal Olhats

On March 13, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel will be the site of OC Chef's Table, benefiting the Illumination Foundation (IF). Founded in 2007, IF works to effectively lower the barriers for Orange County's homeless population to access existing services and resources. They offer a low-entry threshold to advance health and housing stability for the most vulnerable members of our community, with a focus on families and those with medical or mental health conditions.

OC Chef's Table features local chefs preparing multi-course dinners tableside for 10 guests. Wine pairings,opportunities to interact with the chef, and a silent/live auction make for a lively fundraiser. We asked a few of the participating chefs about their decision to participate in this event, as well as what they might have planned. Here is what they had to say.

Pascal Olhats - Pascal (San Juan Capistrano)
Third year participant

Regarding the event: 

I do like the cause of the Illumination Foundation, as we have to take care of the nonsense of having homeless kids in Orange County and anywhere else. We are at the event not only for the foundation, but to also give the donor a return for their generosity. Also, Disney is so helpful and a great host for all the chefs; more than anyone else.

Thoughts on your menu:

My theme this year is French gastronomy and fashion. I will take pictures and send to you!

Justin Monson of Club 33
Justin Monson of Club 33

Justin Monson - Club 33 (Anaheim)
Second year participant

Regarding the event: 
I am proud to be a part of this event, in that it serves our community right here in Orange County. It is a very classy event that does a great job promoting the area chefs and their respective restaurants.

Thoughts on your menu:
This year we are creating a menu that will be inspired by a spring garden party in New Orleans.

Mark McDonald of Old Vine Cafe
Mark McDonald of Old Vine Cafe

Mark McDonald - Old Vine Cafe (Costa Mesa)
Second year participant

Regarding the event:
I am pleased to participate in this event knowing that I will be playing a small role in helping those in need in Orange County by doing what I love most, cooking!

Thoughts on your menu:

I will be showcasing a few signature dishes from Old Vine Cafe, and adding some new creations to the mix. All courses will be paired with world class, eclectic wines.

Alexander Dale of SeaLegs
Alexander Dale of SeaLegs

Alexander Dale - SeaLegs Wine Bar (Huntington Beach)
First year participant

Regarding the event:
I think the Illumination Foundation is an amazing cause. OC Chef's Table is a great event where all of us in the industry work together to raise money to fight homelessness. It's great that so many chefs can come to cook together under one roof for the same cause.

Thoughts on your menu:
I will be showcasing what we do best at SeaLegs Wine Bar— fresh California produce, the finest cuts of meat and fresh, local seafood selections from my favorite market, Dory Fleet in Newport Beach. And, of course, guests can look forward to amazing, hand-picked wine pairings that will complement each dish

Chef Takashi Abe of BluefinEXPAND
Chef Takashi Abe of Bluefin
Photo courtesy Bluefin

Takashi Abe - Bluefin (Newport Beach)
First year participant

Regarding the event:
This event targets the often unseen problem of homeless families and children in Orange County. We look forward to partnering with the Illumination Foundation to help combat this problem.

Thoughts on your menu:

We plan on doing a Kaiseki-style meal, which is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. I am still working on the exact number of courses and sequence. It should start with a mix of two or three cold appetizers and two or three cooked dishes. Then it will progress to the sushi courses, which should include six or seven seasonal fish served either individually or in pairs. Then a traditional soup or noodle dish will follow before the dessert course. During the meal, a pairing of five different sakes will accompany the courses.

Niki Starr of Mesa
Niki Starr of Mesa


Niki Starr- Mesa (Costa Mesa)
First year participant

Regarding the event:

I think the Illumination Foundation is such an awesome charity that's really making a difference in our community. This event alone is one of the most prestigious culinary events in our community, and I am proud and honored to be involved.

Thoughts on your menu:

I know that I will be preparing my dinner based around the Disney movie, Inside Out.

For more information on the Illumination Foundation, OC Chef's Table and to purchase tickets, you can click here.

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