Dining for a Cause | 22nd Annual Mama’s Day a Showcase of San Diego’s Top Eats and a Record Breaking Fundraiser

May 19, 2013

By Megan Gallagher | SanDiegoVille Contributor

If I could offer one piece of advice to people who plan to attend next year’s Mama’s Day, it would be this - don’t wear tight pants. The event, which took place on Friday, May 10th, is a showcase of all that is good in the San Diego food scene, and with more than 40 exhibiting restaurants, it is certainly a night of indulging. But it is easy to put the guilt of indulging aside (or explain it to your personal trainer on Monday), knowing that it’s all to benefit a good cause - Mama’s Kitchen - which provides nutritious meals to families throughout San Diego who are affected by cancer or HIV.

Photo by Joey Fernandez Photography
The Hyatt Regency in La Jolla was a perfect backdrop the 22nd annual event, which serves as the largest fundraiser for Mama’s Kitchen each year. Things kicked off with some heartfelt speeches from Executive Director Alberto Cortes, Chairperson Heather Bowden and a local mother, Christie, who expressed deep gratitude for Mama’s Day services. Next up was an interactive presentation from the always entertaining Sam “The Cooking Guy” who managed to teach me everything I have been doing wrong when it comes to cooking fish in a matter of five minutes. Together with mixologist Ian Ward, who made preparing a blackberry daiquiri look as easy as pouring a glass of water, he lightened up the crowd and set the tone for the laid-back evening.

Knowing that I was in for a filling night, I started out with a lap around the booth area to scope out who was on display. With more than 50 restaurants participating (a full list is below), I saw everything from my favorites, to those that I have been dying to check off my personal San Diego food tour list. After making the rounds, I couldn’t help but get a taste of Elizabethan Dessert’s peanut butter pie. I know what you’re thinking, dessert first? Yes, it’s backward but they were hard to resist. And, full disclosure: I went back for seconds…and thirds.

Among the other memorable dishes were shrimp ceviche from Finch’s Wine Bar & Bistro, pheasant and cognac sausage with polenta from The Tractor Room, escargot a la Portugaise from Bleu Boheme, zucchini parmesan soup from Starlite, and my personal favorite, watermelon gazpacho from R-Gang Eatery. For those with a sweet tooth, Paipas Buffet at Sycuan Casino’s table was certainly a hotspot of the event, with dishes like raspberry tart, canolis, and creamy cheesecake with pecans and caramel sauce.

Photo by Joey Fernandez Photography
Food wasn’t all the event had to offer, however. It was also a great opportunity to chat with the chefs and wait staff at some of the city’s most buzzed about spots. I got the lowdown on Bice’s menu expansion (details to follow), and Johnny Rivera and Craig Beardslee’s latest University Heights endeavor, The Great Maple.

Outside of the dining area, guests were encouraged to bid on a silent auction which had dozens of items. Some of the most notable included four 1-day passes to Disneyland, lunch with Mayor Bob Filner, Padres-Dodgers tickets, and a one-year membership to the University Club Atop Symphony Towers. The event also introduced me to the silent auction of the digital age, known as the “super silent auction,” where select items of higher value could be bid on via text. Monitors throughout the event kept guests up to date on what the latest bid was on their desired item. Up for grabs in the super silent auction were a two-night stay at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, private dinner for six with Sam “The Cooking Guy” and a day on the water with Shark Man.

The auction funds bring Mama’s Kitchen one step closer to completing the second phase of their $2.6 million capital campaign, which involves expanding into a larger facility to better serve more San Diegans in need.  Approximately 780 guests were estimated to be in attendance at this year's Mama's Day event, raising a record-breaking $215,000 for Mama’s Kitchen.

“This is by far the most successful Mama’s Day fundraiser to date,” said Alberto Cortés, executive director, Mama’s Kitchen. “I would like to thank the volunteers, guests, donors and Mama’s Kitchen staff for helping their support in fulfilling our mission of providing nutritious meals for San Diego’s critical ill.”

Though Mama’s Day is the largest fundraiser for the organization, they also hold several other fundraisers and events throughout the year, and have numerous volunteer opportunities for people who wish to get involved. Check out their website or follow them on Facebook for more info.

Mama’s Day 2013 Restaurant Participants
* = new this year

Addison at The Grand Del Mar
Amaya La Jolla*
Baja Betty's
Bice Ristorante
Bleu Bohème
Café Champagne at Thornton Winery
Café Japengo
California Fruit Wine*
Canyon Grille at the Welk Resort*
Coffee & Tea Collective
Cusp Dining & Drinks*
Decker Brothers Gourmet
Dolce Donuts
Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro
Elizabethan Desserts
Eurobar Coffee & Wine Events
Finch's Wine Bar and Bistro*
French Gourmet Bakery, Restaurant and Catering
The Glass Door
Gossip Grill
Great Maple*
Harry’s Bar & American Grill
Hash House A Go Go
Hillcrest Brewing Company
KELVIN at W San Diego*
Marine Room
Mustangs & Burros at Estancia La Jolla
Nose to the Grind*
Pacifica Del Mar*
Paipa's Buffet at Sycuan
Piatti Ristorante & Bar
Oceanaire Seafood Room
R-Gang Eatery*
Roy Yamaguchi’s Pacific Rim Cuisine*
Sally's Seafood on the Water
San Diego Culinary Institute
Slater’s 50/50*
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Solace & the Moonlight Lounge
Soleil@K at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp
Stone Catering
Table 926*
The Pool Club at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel*
The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge*
Thornton Winery
Top of the Market
Tractor Room
Urban Mo's
Urban Solace
Veladora at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa*
Wachena at Sycuan Casino