Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill were honored as "Chefs Of The Year" at the 32nd Annual Planned Parenthood Food Fare last Thursday. The fundraiser at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium gathered Planned Parenthood staffers and volunteers, members of their fundraising group The Guild, and hundreds of supporters for an evening of food tastings from hundreds of the city's most popular restaurants.
At the evening VIP reception catered by Border Grill and Susan Feniger's STREET, Feniger and Milliken were both feted for their longstanding support of Planned Parenthood (see LA Weekly's 1979 photo of the chefs with Julia Child at a Planned Parenthood event). Newly installed CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (and HuffPost blogger) Sue Dunlap gave a short speech on the Republican congress' effort to defund the organization, emphasizing that "We're being asked to be afraid, and perhaps ashamed of the work we do. But we're not. We're proud of all the women we take care of."
Said Dunlap to the Huffington Post, "What's so important about food and reproductive health is that everybody needs it. Everybody needs food, and everybody needs a place where they can turn to when they have no one else to call or nowhere else to go." On the importance of Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles, she said that the city "has high rates of unintended pregnancy, we have high rates of the uninsured, and we have such a large and diverse community. In such a wonderful, large metropolis, where so many communities come together, we're proud to be here for each and every person, whether or not they have the ability to pay."
The live auctions that night offered six-person dinners at Street (sold twice at $2,250 each) and catering for twenty-five from the Border Grill truck (sold twice at $10,000). Joyce Brandman, who won one of the Border Grill Truck catering services, said, "I bid the $10,000 because I believe in helping those who need to be helped. I believe in this organization very strongly." Silent auction packages included VIP tickets to The Ellen Show, tickets to the Emmys, and a set tour of Grey's Anatomy. Inside the auditorium, event-goers swarmed the hundreds of food tasting tables that filled the space.