On Sunday, over 100 Bay Area chefs gathered to cook for the annual, lavish benefit affair known as the Star Chefs & Vintners Gala, now in its 27th year raising money for Meals on Wheels of San Francisco. This year they once again broke a record with the money taken in during the raucous live auction, which begins during dinner, in which caches of wine, major dinner packages, and one-of-a-kind chef experiences are auctioned off. This year's total sum raised: $2.6 million.
The record-breaking auction lot this year was a dinner cooked by Boulevard chef and gala chair Nancy Oakes in the SoMa loft of designer Ken Fulk, which went for $52,000. Additionally a dinner cooked by Perbacco chef Staffan Terje and State Bird Provisions chef Stuart Brioza went for $44,000, and they decided to do two of them, for two bidders, both at that price. Following the auction lot, the Fund-a-Route portion of the fundraiser also raised a whopping $810,000 to fund new meal delivery routes for homebound seniors.
The biggest deal of the night went to the winner of the first auction lot, which was dinner for 4 people at 8 of the Bay Area's 9 Michelin 2 and 3 star restaurants. That lot went for $28,000, and if you've heard what places like Saison, Meadowood, and The French Laundry cost, you can pull out a calculator and see why I say that was a deal.
In addition, money was raised during a silent auction as well. About 1,000 guests attended the event, with all enjoying lavish cocktail and dessert receptions, and many sitting down for a three-course dinner prepared by teams of top chefs, each catering small groups of tables in the main dining room.
Meals on Wheels of San Francisco was founded in 1970, and the gala benefits began in 1987. This year's gala funds will be used to provide more than 565,000 meals to homebound seniors, with the goal of giving seniors the right to live independently with dignity and respect for as long as it is safely possible.