Nearly 50 executive chefs and their teams from the Orange County area come together to transform the hotel venue (typically a ballroom), into a giant dinner show. I say show because you can’t take your eyes off of the chefs as they each prepare a variety of courses for their designated and intensely ornate tables.
Each table seats ten guests, eagerly awaiting the four to seven-plus course menu their chef has planned for the evening. Giant sparkling centerpieces covered in candlelight and floral magnificence fill the room. They are all unique, as the chef and their teams design and arrange each setting. This year, I experienced a table full of cacti and succulents that caught my fancy, as well as a centerpiece full of rock lava and live fire. Ornate doesn’t begin to describe the aesthetic of this event.
If you have ever been in a commercial kitchen during the dinner rush, you understand the organized chaos that ensues behind the scenes. Table for Ten is similar…. times 50. When shooting this event, the photographers have to be hyper-aware of their surroundings. One false move could mean disaster, injury, or plain embarrassment. Somehow, this year was accident-free for me, minus one very close call with a bottle of sparkling water.
This year, the beneficiary was a charity called The Teen Project. Founded by an amazing woman named, Lauri Burns, the mission of The Teen Project is to provide every child with an equal chance at life. They work with foster children, specifically young women, who are without a home or plan for the future. Most of the girls within the program have been victims of human trafficking and a broken system.
This charity spoke near and dear to my heart, as I feel emotionally connected to young women that experience an uphill battle throughout their childhoods. Struggles with addiction, abuse and lack of parental guidance prove to be extremely detrimental to young minds. Lauri Burns overcame her own struggles through the system facing addiction and human trafficking, and now uses this strength to give back to young women who are just like her. I highly admire that and am so glad to see her organization thriving. Her speech was stunning, and I’m sure a lot of the guests could feel the passion radiating from her soul as she spoke.
Table for Ten was, once again, successful in showcasing the creative talents of OC’s culinary community. I am exhausted but completely satisfied… until next year. :]