March of Dimes – LA Signature Chefs Raise Awareness and Funds

IMG_8940Last Sunday night my daughter and I were invited to the LA Signature Chefs annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Strolling along the front drive at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows we admired the 80-foot tall Moreton Bay Fig Tree. It’s the second largest of its kind in California, and possibly the United States.

FullSizeRender-46The first chef that I recognized was Executive Chef Tony Esnault from Church & State. While handing me a plate of colorful roasted Farmers Market vegetables that he prepared for the event, he told me he was the first chef to start the March of Dimes Signature Chefs when he was a talented chef in New York. Year after year, Esnault gathers some of the best chefs in Los Angeles to help raise funds and awareness for the cause.

It’s an evening of meeting featured chefs, while watching them prepare a signature dish. There is wine, bubbly, and beer tastings, among tables of wonderful silent auction items and live auction entertainment.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Chef Antonia Lofaso

Other chefs donating their time to this worthy event were Top Chef Season 4 Chef Antonia Lofaso from SCOPA. She is a regular judge on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and has a cookbook – The Busy Mom’s Cookbook re-released in paperback.

Chef Yousef Ghalaini

Inside the Miramar is the popular restaurant FIG with Chef Yousef Ghalaini at the helm. Working with local farmers and fisherman, Ghalaini creates California cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. He is a master at preparing dishes in a wood burning oven.

This year’s wineries included Attune Wines – Sonoma, Ca; Bure Family Wines – St. Helena, CA; Chase Cellars – St. Helena, CA; Gargiulo Vineyard – Napa, CA; Garnet Vineyards – Sonoma, CA; House Beer – Venice, CA; Inception Wines – Carson, CA; Louis Latour – France; Martian Vineyards – Los Alamos, CA; Pali Wine Company – Santa Monica, CA; The Pairing Winery – Santa Barbara, CA; Silver Oak Winery & Twomey Cellers – Oakville, CA; Tequila Patron, Winc Wine and Zaca Mesa Winery – Los Olivos, CA.

Pastry Chef Sherry Yard
Pastry Chef Sherry Yard

Pastry Chef Sherry Yard from Helms Bakery made plates of wonderful chocolate cake pops.

At the CUT by Wolfgang Puck – Chef Ken Concepcion’s table had plates of Double R Ranch New York Sirloin, with Maggie’s Farm baby Kale, Yuzu Ponzu, puffed black rice and Micro shiso.

Chef Michael Kahikina

Director of Culinary Michael Brown and his team from Dog Haus made beautiful grilled quail eggs on top of mini hot dogs. There were six brown paper bags filled with spotted tiny quail eggs. Brown enjoys to balance sweet against salt, and acid against fat. Brown oversees the operations of the Dog Haus gourmet hot dog concept.

Barrel + Ashes had chefs prepare a trout salad that tasted similar to tuna salad. Chef Michael Kahikina was charming and engaging with each guest. He was the opening team at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Beverly Hills before connecting with Chef Tim Hollingsworth to open Barrel and Ashes in Studio City.

Another favorite was The Beverly Hills Polo Lounge Executive Chef Kaleo Adams. The Hawaiian native applies his Island skills to source the best produce, fish and meat for the restaurant. He joined the restaurant during the hotels centenary celebration in 2012.

IMG_8944After two hours outside, guests went inside for additional desserts by Sprinkles Cupcakes and sipped sparkling wine by Le Grand Courtage from France. There was a live auction, comedy show by comedian Kira Soltanovich and a special guest appearance by NBC4 Southern California Meteorologist Crystal Egger.

The California Chapter of March of Dimes implements programs, develops educational programs and resources, works closely with state health department officials to make sure women have healthy pregnancies and babies get a healthy start in life. We learned that 15 million babies are born prematurely each year around the world. One million will die. The average medical cost for a healthy baby is about $4,389. For a premature baby it’s $54,194. To learn more about the March of Dimes, go to

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