Los Angeles chefs unite for Australia bushfire relief efforts

A koala receives treatment for its injuries, including burned paws and nose, at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Australian chefs and their L.A. restaurant friends are hosting fundraisers and other special events across the city to raise money for Australian bushfire relief efforts. The catastrophic fires have burned millions of acres in the southeastern part of the country since they began in late October.

“It’s been utterly devastating to see the destruction taking place in Australia,” says Curtis Stone, owner of Maude in Beverly Hills and Gwen in Hollywood; the chef was raised in Melbourne. “The impact to the animals and wildlife, the aboriginal elders, who are the caretakers of the land, as well as the producers, farmers and ranchers, is unfathomable.”

At Maude, all of the restaurant’s profits for the duration of the current three-month South Australia-influenced menu are being donated to Drought Angels. The nonprofit provides individualized, long-term support to rural farmers facing financial and housing challenges due to flood, fire and drought.

More than 170 U.S. firefighters are helping their Australian counterparts battle the nation’s worst blazes ever, an assignment that requires adjustment to a new terrain, culture and lingo.

At E.P. & L.P. in West Hollywood, owners Grant Smillie and David Combes are holding a barbecue and auction on Sunday — Australia Day — on the restaurant’s rooftop to raise money for the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund. The two childhood friends were born and raised in Australia.


In Santa Monica, Monica Foley, the Melbourne native behind the iced green tea shop Koala Matcha, is donating 100% of January’s proceeds to Wildlife Victoria, an emergency response organization assisting imperiled wildlife in the embattled southeastern state.

Gramercy, the bar and restaurant that houses Foley’s Aussie-inspired stand, is hosting its own brushfire relief fundraiser on Saturday afternoon with the L.A. Dragons Australian Football Club.

The pastry chef community in L.A. also is coming together for the cause.

Women are transforming baking’s status in the culinary world and California is at the center of that shift.

In Chinatown on Sunday, more than 45 restaurants and chefs will participate in a bake sale at Now Serving, the cookbook store run by husband-and-wife duo Ken Concepcion and Michelle Mungcal. Participating chefs include Margarita Manzke of République, Jeremy Fox of Birdie G’s, Lincoln Carson of Bon Temps, Evan Funke of Felix, Nicole Rucker of Fat & Flour, Roxana Jullapat of Friends & Family and Mei Lin of Nightshade.

The event will raise money for CFS Foundation, which provides financial support for volunteer firefighters and their families, and OZHarvest, an on-the-ground organization delivering food to Australians in need.

“Everyone in the L.A. food community is very eager to help,” said Thessa Diadem, the pastry chef at Here’s Looking at You and All Day Baby, who will bring two types of cookies to the event. “I’m happy that through this bake sale we have a platform to extend our support to Australia.”

What We’re Into: We can’t get enough of the All Day Baby breakfast biscuit sandwich in Silver Lake.