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They Ate So Others Might Not Go Hungry

August 03, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD

Every food lover's dream--and dieter's nightmare--came true last week when South Coast Plaza held an all-you-can-eat Summer Food & Wine Festival.

The affair attracted a throng of 1,000 people and featured 31 restaurants serving up their specialties at food stations throughout Crystal Court, while California wineries poured their premium vintages. Guests paid $25 each to attend, raising about $25,000 for the Food Distribution Center and Someone Cares Soup Kitchen.

Footloose Feast

Upon arrival, guests received wine glasses and small trays, then were free to wander about indulging in as many different taste sensations as their bodies would allow.

"The trick," one woman advised her friend, "is to look at everything that's here, and then eat."

The choices weren't easy. Among the culinary offerings: penne in a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce from Garden Bistro, pasta in pesto sauce with grilled chicken breast from Piret's Bistro, blackened red ahi from Diva, manicotti with Alfredo sauce and prosciutto from Birraporetti's and penne in tomato sauce from Trattoria Spiga. Wine, beer, sparkling water and coffee flowed freely.

"We always have this event in October, but it's been such a success we wanted to do it twice," said Tim Maurier, board member with the Food Distribution Center who will serve as chairman of the Oct. 14 festival.

"This has been a hard summer. It's a slow time to raise money. And with school out, a lot of kids might not even be getting one full meal."

Hunger Pain

An estimated 400,000 people each month are at risk of going hungry in Orange County, according to the Food Distribution Center in Orange. To combat the problem, the center collects surplus food from restaurants, wholesalers, growers and other sources and redistributes it to more than 200 Orange County agencies that feed the hungry. This year, the food bank will distribute 8.2 million pounds of food.

"Before food recycling, it was all dumped into a landfill," said Dan Harney, executive director of the center. "We get products that are perfectly edible--they've just been mislabeled or overproduced. Once, we got 46,000 one-pound jars of cashew butter that had been mislabeled peanut butter."

Someone Cares Soup Kitchen in Costa Mesa, one of the food bank's agencies, serves meals to approximately 250 men, women and children each day.

As the lingering recession takes its toll, more middle-class people are finding themselves in the food line, said kitchen manager Jack Moriarty.

"I've seen people who used to make donations to us end up in the soup line," he said. "It hurts. You know they're embarrassed."

Among those helping the cause: Hugo Hunziker, president of Someone Cares; John Heffernan, chairman of the Food Distribution Center board; Fred Pratt, center director; John Beckley, Antonio Cagnolo of Antonello's, Frank Dibella, Bob and Marie Gray, Bill Hamilton, Warren Hancock, Teri Hatleberg, Charles and Nora Hester, John and Sylvia Michler, Maurice and Marcy Mulville, Paul Nyquist, Bob Prill, Art Rorden, Anton Segerstrom, David Vallejo and Pat Warmington.

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