Sir Bruno Serato hit a landmark in July with 9 million meals served to children in need.
Most restaurateurs with upscale dining rooms have a reputation for serving well-heeled gourmands. But Sir Bruno Serato has built an even bigger legacy for feeding underprivileged children. Caterina’s Club, named for his late mother, who came up with the idea in 2005, has brought pasta meals to millions of children in need.
He's been recognized by the Italian government with a knighthood and has earned a spot on CNN’s “Top 10 Everyday Heroes.” In July he hit a landmark with 9 million meals served and what better timing? This achievement comes shortly before his annual Caterina’s Club gala, which will take place on Oct. 15 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.
“I'll be honest with you, I don't count,” he said. “My office gave me the number and I was like, that is crazy because we started 18 years ago with one city, one location and probably one kid. Now we’ve arrived at this milestone and it is overwhelming.”
The program, which started at the Boys & Girls Club in Anaheim, has expanded to 105 locations in Orange County alone, serving 25,000 meals per week. There are also programs set up in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and the model has been replicated in other cities in the U.S. and other countries such as Mexico, Africa and Italy. So, he’s celebrating, he says, with plans for his grandest gala ever.
“We’ll have Marines in dress uniforms and Boy Scouts to do a flag salute,” he said. Serato has always been interested in fashion and décor; his restaurant, the Anaheim White House, is a replica of the U.S. president’s residence but with Italian-style frescoes on the walls. For this party, he’s selected an elegant color scheme with white and gold tablescapes. “The candle lamps are from Italy and they give off a gold light, and we’ll have white orchids, too,” he said.
The menu will include a salad with beets and greens, a second course of ravioli, the main course of braised beef with mushrooms and a Salmon Wellington as well as a decadent chocolate cake for dessert.
Serato suggests that guests make the most of the evening by going early and touring the library, which includes reproductions of the West Wing and the Oval Office.
Come prepared to bid at the silent and live auctions with hundreds of items such as a photo shoot donated by celebrity photographer Greg Gorman, and a special edition of photographer John Russo’s coffee table book, “100 Making a Difference.” It’s packed with images of activists, advocates and celebrities, including Serato, who champion worthy charities. “That one includes dinner for eight with me and a copy of the book,” Serato said.
Other special guests at the party will include event chairs David Pryor and Sandy Ceron, movie star Christopher Atkins (“Blue Lagoon”) and His Royal Highness Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, Prince of Piedmont and Prince of Venice.
“The prince has come to Southern California for several years to do fundraising,” Serato said. “Some of my friends talked to him about it and I said, ‘Prince, I have to honor you and thank you for supporting Caterina’s Club.’ I was lucky enough he was free that night and I invited him.”
With celebrity appearances, a prince in attendance and a knight as your host, it sounds like an exclusive evening. But Serato said everyone is welcome to come celebrate. It’s not just about feeding the children. Caterina’s Club’s charity projects have grown with the addition of Welcome Home, which transitions homeless families into apartments. “It gives dignity back to the parents and the family, moving to an apartment,” Serato said.
And there’s also Hospitality Academy which helps teens get experience in the restaurant business. “They work with me for three months so they have the opportunity to apply and find another job because now they have some experience,” he said.
Serato says anyone who wants can help support the cause and reminds them that they can enjoy a really fun party while doing so. “We’ll have live music and it’s not going to be boring,” he said. “If people want to jump on the tables and start dancing, they can.”