I’m Plating Up with L.A. Chefs to End Child Abuse

In America, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, and 33% of reported child abuse cases involve children under five years old. One in three perpetrators of child abuse were abused themselves as children—it’s a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break without intervention and a lot of support services.

These staggering statistics are completely unacceptable to me and many other chefs in the Los Angeles culinary industry. So we’re doing our part to ensure that children and families get the support they need to thrive in strong families and communities by cooking and baking at this year’s Blue Tie Gala supporting Children’s Bureau on November 2 at The Museum of Flying in Santa Monica.

The author, Pastry Chef Mitzi Reyes of The Bazaar by José Andrés and SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, with her delicious dessert spread at the Blue Tie Gala 2018 (Danielle Klebanow | Image courtesy Children’s Bureau Los Angeles)

Growing up in Mexico City, it was very different than what it is here. Back home, we had many kids on the streets, not getting the education or the support they needed. It is great that there are organizations like Children’s Bureau that provide parents with the tools and resources they need to raise happy, productive children.  Since 1904, Children’s Bureau has been a nonprofit leader in protecting vulnerable children through prevention, treatment and advocacy.

The agency is unique in that it focuses on three key areas for creating impact: strengthening families and communities, building peer capacity, and transforming systems and communities. Children’s Bureau helps 50,000 children and parents each year throughout Southern California with services that include school readiness, parenting classes, family resource centers, support groups, foster care and foster-adoption, mental health counseling, and more. 

One area of recent growth for Children’s Bureau has been its mental health program.  With an increase in suicidality, bullying, school violence and mass shootings, mental health is getting recognized as a nationwide crisis. The need for services and funding continues to increase as organizations see the widespread impact it’s having on our children and families.

 “With one in six U.S. children aged two through eight years being diagnosed with a mental, developmental or behavioral disorder, it’s imperative that our mental health services reach children when they are young to provide early intervention services and minimize these large-scale issues that we are seeing in our society today,” says Susan Wood, Children’s Bureau’s Director of Mental Health. 

Hussain Zhouhbi, Executive Chef at SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, at the 2018 Blue Tie Gala to benefit the Children’s Bureau working to end child abuse (Danielle Klebanow | Image courtesy Children’s Bureau Los Angeles)

While Children’s Bureau is committed to helping those already harmed, a key strategy is to prevent child abuse from happening in the first place.

As one of the largest investors in child abuse prevention in the country, Children’s Bureau strives to reach parents before the birth of their children and throughout the early years through efforts focused on parenting education, child development, family bonding, accessing community resources and more.

All of this is made possible through the funds raised at the Blue Tie Gala. The annual fundraiser has raised over $3 million in its nine years and I’m proud to be sharing my desserts again this year on behalf of The Bazaar by José Andrés at SLS Hotel Beverly Hills.

The team from The Bazaar by José Andrés, South Beach in the SLS Hotel, at the 2018 Children’s Bureau Blue Tie Gala in Los Angeles (L>R) Sous Chef Alejandro Torres, Executive Chef, David Thomas, Chef de Cuisine, Karla Hoyos, and Sous Chef Orhun Gorsen (Danielle Klebanow | Image courtesy Children’s Bureau Los Angeles)

I was first introduced to Children’s Bureau by Chef José Andrés and participated in the Blue Tie Gala in 2018. Being part of the event was an amazing experience. Prepping in the days before and the day of the event were full of fun times. It’s always good to do what you love and even better when you get to help organizations such as Children’s Bureau.

This year, I’ll be joined by other incredible chefs: Corey Burgan, Chef de Cuisine at THE Blvd Restaurant; Anne Conness, chef-owner of Jaffa and Sausal; Anthony Jacquet, chef-owner of Claudine Artisan Kitchen and Bakeshop; Celestino Drago of Drago Restaurants; David Lefevre, chef-owner of The Arthur J, Fishing with Dynamite and MB Post; Gio Lopez, Executive Chef of Border Grill; Javier Lopez, Executive Chef of 71Above; and Joanne Ponvanit, Executive Pastry Chef at Bon Appétit Management Co.

Holly Jivin, Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar by José Andrés Beverly Hills, posing with her picture-perfect platter at the 2018 Blue Tie Gala at The Museum of Flying in Santa Monica (Danielle Klebanow | Image courtesy Children’s Bureau Los Angeles)

It’s wonderful to be working with peers who share a passion for protecting children. As David Lefevre has said, “Five children die every day from child abuse so it’s an easy choice to contribute in some way to help these children who don’t have a voice.”

Even if you can’t attend the Blue Tie Gala on November 2nd, there are many ways you can help prevent child abuse in your community. Volunteer and/or donate to local organizations to ensure they have the financial means to provide these critical programs and services to families in need. Learn about the signs of child abuse so you can feel confident in recognizing and reporting if you ever encounter a child that is in danger. Lastly, follow nonprofits on social media and share about the importance of child abuse prevention with your friends and family, not only during April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month, but all year long.

The Bazaar by José Andrés will also be doing our part by launching a Blue Tie Gala themed Dessert Graffiti, available throughout the month of November at all locations across the country.  Much like a painter starting with a blank canvas, our pastry chefs take a blank mirror tray and create a masterpiece comprised of tarts, cakes, and more edible delights. Each month we dedicate the dessert graffiti to a nonprofit organization whose cause is near and dear to our hearts. November’s theme, In the Clouds, is a nod to the Museum of Flying, the location of this year’s Blue Tie Gala, as well as to the idea that all children should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and soar to great heights.

Child abuse is preventable, and all of us can help, read about the ten signs of child abuse and how you can be a part of the solution.

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