The Crowd: Chefs serve specials for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Table for 10 #3 Gloria Crockett, Mary Murfey.jpg
Gloria Jetter Crockett, left, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County/Inland Empire, with presenting sponsor Mary Murfey at a recent Table For Ten fundraiser, which brought in $350,000 for Make-A-Wish.
(Bob Hodson)

The onslaught of COVID-19 has slapped humanity in the face with the stark realization that the basics of food and shelter are essentially the only things that matter.

We think of our species indestructible, protected. And then COVID-19 says, “Hold on, all life on Earth exists as visitors, not hosts, nor generals or rulers. Survival of all life is indeed codependent on all life supporting the health of the planet.”

Feeding humanity has been a central theme of struggle and survival since the evolution of man. Both ancient and modern-day stories of biblical impact of hunger and the inspiration of overcoming teach us lessons passed down through the generations. This is core to religious teachings and is basic to civilized, secular society.

In the present-day social framework of life in Orange County, most charitable gatherings are created around the sharing of food, often bringing residents together to partake in fancy meals in order to raise money to supply not-so-fancy meals for literally thousands of hungry men, women and children.

One of the most creative of these dining experiences designed to support a worthy cause is Table For Ten, a fundraising effort benefiting Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire. Unfolding days before the state went on quarantine, some 320 donors gathered for the annual dinner party held at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, Dana Point.

Make-A-Wish OC/IE President and CEO Gloria Jetter Crockett joined Make-A-Wish America CEO Richard K. Davis welcoming the O.C. crowd.

“Our organization provides children with life-changing wish experiences,” Crockett said. “These children are battling critical illnesses with many enduring years of chemotherapy treatment, surgeries and doctor’s appointments. Then, Make-A-Wish comes along, and we provide our wish children with hope, strength and inspiration.

“Parents tell us that their children are more likely to comply with treatment when they have a wish to look forward to. They fight harder, they have hope.”

Some 7,257 wishes have been granted by Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire since it was founded in 1983, Davis added.

The Table for Ten dinner concept deserves explanation. A diverse array of top O.C. chefs, restaurateurs and gourmet vendors donate their time, talent and treasure designing a table for 10 guests, including food, wine and décor.

For the 2020 event, 32 tables of 10 filled the Laguna Cliffs ballroom. Ultimately, Make-W-Wish raised more than $350,000.

Crockett and Davis presented Ron Fougeray, JC Resorts corporate chef and chef of Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, an honorary chef award. Fougeray has been a part of Table for Ten for many years.

Among the participating chefs was the Food Network’s Chris Tzorin, along with his partners Manny Velasco and Eddie Perez of XClusive Taqueria Moderna, and John Tesar and Salvatore Giuliani of The Outer Reef, Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa.

Also among the many supporting Make-A-Wish were Kyle St. John from The Ranch at Laguna Beach; David Martin from the Pacific Club, Newport Beach; Frank Gorriceta of Nobu, Newport Beach; and Erik Sandven and Diego Bernal of Pelican Hill’s Coliseum Pool & Grill, Newport Coast.

A special nod to presenting sponsor-donor Mary Murfey, along with support from Kathy Hamilton, Kim Smith, Donna DiBari, Dave and Tracy Hoff, Leslie Zoroya, Ed Herbst, Dali Despotovic, and chef Linda Johnsen of Costa Mesa’s acclaimed Filomena’s Italian Kitchen.

To learn more about Make-A-Wish, visit

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