Bay Area Nonprofit Sprouts Chef Training Hosts Sold-Out Benefit at Mister Jiu’s: $330,000 Raised!
With the help of Dominique Crenn, Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, guests, and sponsors at Sprouts’ March 13 benefit, we funded job training for 66 youth.
SAN FRANCISCO — On March 13, 2022, Sprouts hosted its annual spring fundraising gala at Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown. The sold-out dinner celebrated San Francisco’s vibrant culinary scene, and the inspiring graduates of the Sprouts Chef Training Program. Sprouts is a Bay Area nonprofit which enables youth to rise from hardship through culinary training and job placement.
Guests shared cocktail hour with our featured co-hosts and Sprouts’ alumni. Canapes prepared by John Wesley of Sons & Daughters and Charles Phan of Slanted Door floated by. Sprouts Founder Kate Rogers and Chef Training Alumni Katelyn and Maya called attendees to dinner, clinking forks against glasses.
While guests found their seats, our panelists took the stage for a conversation titled, “The Healing Power of Kitchens.” To start the discussion, Bestselling Author Michael Pollan noted the connective power of cooking in communities. Alice Waters, owner and executive chef at Chez Panisse, shared the essential tips she’d want anyone in her kitchen to know – beginning with seasonal cooking and ending with the importance of hands-on food preparation. Three Michelin-Star Chef Dominique Crenn advocated for the importance of humanity in the industry. She added, “I don’t care how good you are as a cook if your mind and your soul are not active.”
Each speaker commended Sprouts and its fearless leader Kate Rogers for doing “important work” for youth. Of Sprouts, Michael Pollan said, “Congratulations to you, Kate, and congratulations to Sprouts, which does such important work. I’ve known Kate since she was an undergraduate at Cal starting with a cooking club, and it’s been wonderful to watch the progress.”
The celebrity panel closed just in time for Hamachi crudo from Dana Younkin and Nancy Oakes of Boulevard restaurant. This was the first dish in a lineup of four courses prepared by Michelin-Star chef teams. For course two, Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s prepared Alaskan halibut with middleneck clams. Saison’s Richard Lee brought out dry-aged beef for course three. For dessert, Chef Kim Conroy of Butter& cut designer cake.
Unique wine pairings complemented each savory dish, thanks to local vineyards Scribe Winery, Di Costanza, and Hudson. To accompany dessert, Ortolan Rosolio shook up a fruity cocktail.
Next, Speakers Kate Rogers and Sprouts Alumni Katelyn Neroza and Chris Hey shared their stories with a grateful audience. Applause rang out from the crowd as Kate shared the story of her brother, who found peace in the rhythm of the workplace. The audience laughed as Chris lamented coding, saying he found a home in the kitchen like he’d never experienced. Katelyn brought us goosebumps when she said, “The kitchen was my calling. It brought me back to life.”
As the sky darkened, auctioneer Liam Mayclem entertained the crowd with a live auction. He called on Bay Area celebrities to introduce each package to the crowd. Legendary SF food critic (and Sprouts Board Member) Michael Bauer, knighted sommelier Shelley Lindgren, and restaurateur Nancy Oakes took the microphone one by one to talk up their auction packages.
Michael joined forces with Kash Feng to lead a progressive dinner in the Bay. Shelley promised a wine class at A16. Nancy invited auction winners to her home for a female-led tasting menu. The fun didn’t end there!
Panelist Alice Waters said she’d cook dinner at home for several lucky guests. Then, Dominique Crenn promised to help with the dishes! Dominique also auctioned an “internship day” at her restaurant Atelier Crenn.
Founder Cuong Pham of Red Boat Fish Sauce came forward with an unexpected auction package near the end of the night. His daughters expressed his willingness to take two lucky guests all the way to Vietnam for a culinary tour!
With incredible speed, these packages were snatched up by cheering guests. The crowd was thrilled to support youth with their donations and win big.
In a final push to raise Sprouts’ goal of $300,000, guests showed their support in a paddle raise. Liam Mayclem passed a Magnum from donor to donor, waiting on the last attendee to bid and win the prize.
This was a special evening for Sprouts. As we reflect, we’re reminded of the strong community that supports our Bay Area nonprofit.
After the gala, alumnus and speaker Chris Hey shared a message for attendees, donors, sponsors, and chefs who attended. “Had an amazing night at Mister Jiu’s thanks to everyone that came to have fun and see what we’re all about…Thank you for your positive reinforcement, it was surreal.”
Looking to the future, we’re thrilled to help Bay Area youth like Chris with the proceeds from this nonprofit benefit gala.