san diego
Mama’s Day promises food, fun and fancy-free times
Event features 20th anniversary retrospective
Published Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 in issue 1165
Mama’s Day 2010 will feature top chefs from 73 San Diego restaurants and resorts who will showcase their dishes at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine on Friday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Alberto Cortes, executive director of Mama’s Kitchen praised the chefs and restaurants participating in the event, who donate food and services to the special day.
“They’re helping us celebrate and hopefully 600 some odd of our friends will be there to help raise money for Mama’s Kitchen,” Cortes said.
Proceeds from the Mama’s Day event go to helping the organization prepare and deliver three meals a day, seven days a week to people living with HIV/AIDS and cancer.
The last couple of years have been tough for Mama’s Kitchen. A budget defecit in the middle of the crashing economy hurt the organization’s finances.
In order to eradicate the organization’s defecit, Cortes and his staff have taken pay cuts, with some staff members taking salary freezes. The organization was also able to renegotiate food costs and was able to end 2009 within budget while serving more people.
“What makes that possible is the support of the community,” Cortes said. “Events like Mama’s Day become more relevant than ever.”
Cortes said Mama’s Kitchen served more than 375,000 meals last year, an increase from 332,500 meals from 2008. There were more than 4,700 visits to Mama’s Pantry, a record number increase from the 4,300 visits in 2008.
Although Mama’s Day is a fundraiser, the event promises fun in addition to good food.
“We’re using this opportunity to feature a retrospective of what the kitchen has done over the years including highlighting and interviewing several folks involved over the years, who have been critical to this operation,” Cortes said. In addition to the selection of different food, Mama’s Day will also feature a silent auction and opportunity drawing.
“Having this opportunity to celebrate and affirm 20 years of addressing the nutritional needs of people with AIDS as well as people with cancer in recent years has been a great opportunity.”
Cortes said people who attend Mama’s Day have a memorable and positive experience.
“They love the variety and quality of food,” Cortes said. “They love the festive environment. We don’t do speeches and people aren’t stuck at a table, they love having a really fun time, which is our goal for this event.”
Mama’s Day will feature Sam Zien host of the popular Discovery Health Channel television show, “Sam the Cooking Guy,” as the event’s culinary host.
“They really want to impress, the chefs are out there trying to bring you something really great,” Zien said, noting if the event features lasagna, it will be an impressive and fresh take on the classic dish.
Zien affirmed his support for the organization. This year will be his second year as culinary host of Mama’s Day.
“Mama’s Kitchen has been around so long,” Zien said. “They were the first to do three meals every day, every day of the week. They picked up a cause that nobody would really get near. If you spend five minutes with these guys, you’re going to want to be a part of anything they do.”
Deborah Scott, executive chef and partner at Kemo Sabe, Indigo Grill and Island Prime/C-level said Island Prime expects about 500 attendees at Mama’s Day and plans to donate 800 to 1,000 pieces of their Lobster Lollipop with a Dynamite Dipping Sauce.
“For me its definitely the opportunity to give back something to those who are in need and to say thank you to our guests and all involved with the success we’ve had and be able to spread it around and help other people that need help,” Scott said.
In 2008, volunteers donated 30,200 hours with a value of $659,884, drove 172,104 miles and collected $33,500 in food drives.
“I don’t think enough attention is paid to these people who are willing to volunteer their efforts on a daily bassis seven days a week for each meal,” Scott said.
Scott said she knows people living with HIV/AIDS and witnesses the struggles they endure.
“I know things are better than they used to be as far as technology and knowing how to treat HIV and AIDS,” Scott said.
“It’s definitely hit close to home for me,” Scott said, noting her brother’s previous partner lived with HIV and AIDS. “To watch the gradual progression of it is just something no one wants to be involved with. Mama’s Kitchen helps with food for men, women and children with cancer as well. It’s a great cause for debilitating diseases that need to be addressed and hopefully someday will.”
“There’s a greater cause than just coming together for food,” Scott said. “Most people going to this event are going because they are trying to help those less fortunate and to help organizations that need their financial assistance.”
Pre-sale tickets are $125, tickets sold at the door are $150. For more information, visit

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