Over $1.5 million was raised at celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Chefs for Maui fundraiser Saturday in Sonoma County.
The exclusive auction, dinner and live music show for 150 invitees was held at a private residence, according to organizers, and cost $2,500 to $5,000 per person. Funds will benefit restaurant workers and residents affected by August’s devastating wildfires on Maui, Hawaii.
“I was taught that you help take care of the community, and our community, specifically here in Sonoma County, has been through horrific wildfires,” said Fieri, whose Guy Fieri Foundation has raised millions for first responders, disaster relief, culinary students, and the Special Olympics. “So, when I saw my other community, which is my brothers and sisters in the restaurant industry in Hawaii, were facing this horrible tragedy that we had to do something about it.”
Proceeds from Saturday’s event will benefit the Hawaii Restaurant Association and the Salvation Army’s Hawaii resident and Pacific Island Division, organizers said.
The night’s highlight was an 18-course dinner created by 38 of Fieri’s chef friends, including Food Network stars Rocco DiSpirito, Michael Voltaggio, Maneet Chauhan, Tiffani Faison and Brian Malarkey, Bay Area culinary luminaries and some of Sonoma County’s best restaurateurs.
For Fieri, a group text was all it took to gather the support of well-known chefs, including Ming Tsai, Iron Chef Jose Garces and local chefs, including Duskie Estes, Nate Appleman, Domenica Catelli, Crista Luedtke, Michael Mina and Dustin Valette.
“I sent a text to my circle of celebrity chef friends, and there was an overwhelming response wanting to help. Last night, we had a collection of chefs turn up for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner to show the same love and energy to those in the industry who have welcomed us in Maui,” Fieri said.
Estes, who lost her restaurant, Zazu, in the 2019 Sebastopol flood, said she felt the pain of restaurateurs who lost everything in the Lahaina fires.
“We in Sonoma County know the ravage of fire all too well and losing everything you know in an instant. We also know that the people matter more than any possession,” she said.
As a friend of “Top Chef” star Lee Anne Wong, who lost her restaurant in the Maui fires, Estes said, ”I would do anything for her. I know that loss.“
Chef Tracey Shepos of Jackson Family Wines served vegetables from the winery farm with local cheese and oyster leaves with Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. She said the event was “crazy fun with so many talented chefs.”
Shepos was one of five women chefs from Sonoma County, including Estes, Catelli, Luedtke and Liza Hinman, who offered a five-course dinner for 10 people as an auction item called “Wonder Women of Wine Country.” The package sold for $25,000 each to three different bidders for a total of $75,000.
“I felt a tremendous amount of pride that this event was held in Sonoma County and how the greater chef community showed up to help support Maui,” she said.
Other dishes on the Chefs for Maui menu included short rib pizza with bacon onion jam from Jose Garces and Fieri’s son, Hunter; tomahawk steaks from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan’s 6666 Ranch made by Fieri and Valette; fontina-stuffed gnudi with white truffle from chefs Michael Mina and Adam Sobel; and pineapple bread pudding chocolate “ravioli” and passion fruit pie in a jar from Estes, Leudtke and Catelli, who have all been featured on Fieri’s Food Network shows.
“When Guy calls, we all say yes. His heart is always in the right place,” Estes said.