The Berry Good Food Foundation To Hold Fundraising Dinner On March 18 & Unveils Schedule Of Events And Initiatives

February 26, 2016

Michelle Lerach founded Berry Good Night in 2010 to provoke a dialogue about the most critical issues in sustainable food production and consumption in the cross-border San Diego-Baja region. Known to feature an A-list roster of top chefs, farms and farmers, ranchers, food activists, artisans, winemakers, mixologists, scientists, and the best minds in sustainable food, Berry Good Night has become known as THE culinary party of the year, an exclusive, invite-only affair that every serious foodie in town wants to attend. This year, the Berry Good Food Foundation (BGFF), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2015, will replicate the Berry Good Night and open attendance to a limited few. On Friday, March 18, Berry Good Night for the Foundation will take place at the picturesque La Jolla home of Michelle and Bill Lerach for a delicious evening of food and drink for a worthwhile cause.

After leaving her career as a lawyer, Michelle Lerach spent time living and working on a goat farm. She realized that in order to cultivate healthy and sustainable food practices that the local community of food producers would have to work together. She created Berry Good Night to unify farmers, chefs and industry insiders so that they could start a dialogue and share knowledge in order to reconnect eaters with their food and educate them about reducing our collective carbon footprint.

The original Berry Good Night has been declared “the best party invite of the year” by San Diego Magazine. The event presents a lavish evening of culinary decadence designed to create a forum to promote the accessibility of good, healthy food for every level of society. Now, for the first time in seven years, people outside of the sustainable food and drink industry will be able to experience the magic of Berry Good Night at Berry Good Night for the Foundation - a special dinner under the stars hosted by San Diego Magazine Food Editor Troy Johnson.

Set at the Lerach’s magical La Jolla Farms estate set on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, this unique evening begins at 5:30 pm with a garden tour and cocktail hour featuring food and drink sourced and produced within 100 miles. Created in collaboration with farmers, chefs, vintners and brewers from San Diego and Baja, this farm-to-table event will be unlike any other. Guests will interact with top chefs, local winemakers and young farmers (with their animals) and learn food preparation techniques at several interactive stations.

Bill & Michelle Lerach
Cocktail hour is followed by a multiple-course seated dinner with wine, beer and cocktail pairings. Dinner will be served al fresco in the gardens overlooking the ocean and will feature sustainably sourced local food creatively prepared by some of San Diego and Baja's top talent. Confirmed participating chefs so far include Shihomi Sakai Borillo (Artisan Bento), Alex Carballo (Urbn St. Brewing Co.), Zaira Casares (Decoeur Table), Hanis Cavin (Carnitas Snack Shack), Jaime Chavez (Sirena Cocina Latina), Trey Foshee (George’s at the Cove), Martin Gonzalez (Aqua al 2), Diego Hernandez (Corazon de Tierra),  Meredith Manee (Ocean 1500), John Medall (The Patio Restaurant Group), James Montejano (La Valencia), Javier Plascencia (Bracero, Finca Altozano), Davin Waite (Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub) and more.

To recreate the feeling of the original Berry Good Night dinner, two seats at each table will be reserved for chefs, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, vintners, brewers and other food-and-drink artisans who will rotate tables between courses so guests are exposed to the local food-producing community. Tables are $2500 for eight seats and all of the proceeds go to support the foundation's food-related educational programs for children and adults, from growth and preparation to nutrition and environmental impact. Tables can be purchased online.

The Berry Good Food Foundation also enjoys robust support throughout the year from the San Diego restaurant community. In addition to participating in Berry Good Night and Berry Good Night for the Foundation, some of the most acclaimed chefs in San Diego - including Javier Plascencia (Bracero), James Montejano (La Valencia), and Meredith Manee (1500 Ocean) - have signed on to support BGFF by hosting fundraising dinners, with a portion of the evening’s proceeds benefiting the Foundation and its work. Future dinners will occur on both sides of the San Diego international border.

Soil Matters - a recent Future Thought Leaders forum
The Berry Good Food Foundation has also developed a compelling roster of upcoming events in 2016, including their Future Thought Leaders forums - a series of panels which present varying viewpoints on sustainable food-related topics. The programs, free and open to the public, are videotaped by UCTV and distributed through its networks. Future Thought Leaders forums will focus on issues related to the human and environmental health issues surrounding meat production (May 17), what to do about food waste (August 23), and the new world of seafood (November 11). Other educational initiatives of the BGFF include the Berry Good Food Academy and a School Pilot Program.

BGFF Ranch Coordinator Jack Ford of Taj Farms has developed accessible and affordable classes for the Berry Good Food Academy with a focus on community outreach and education. These hands-on seminars include cheese-making and canning, preserving and cooking, centered on efficiently using food products to minimize food waste. Cheese-making classes occur on the first and third Sunday of each month, while canning/preserving/cooking classes are held on the second Sunday of each month. Classes are limited to 18 people and take place at Vincent’s Restaurant in Escondido for $75 per person. Scholarships or volunteer opportunities are available and free classes are offered to farmers and members of the food industry.

The School Pilot Program, an outdoor science classroom in a community garden, will offer a four-part curriculum that will include modules in planting, gardening and composting; harvesting, cooking and preserving; nutrition; and environmental impact. BGFF is working with local, national and international organizations with expertise in curriculum development and educational models, including long-established local nonprofit Olivewood Gardens. The plan is to create the combined curriculum this spring and prototype components or modules in summer, with a roll-out in the fall of next year. The BGFF, with the help of local chefs, will also host cooking events for local parents and students to share their knowledge with the community.

To learn more about Berry Good Night, the Berry Good Food Foundation or any of the classes and events, email [email protected] and follow on Facebook & Twitter.