If the county commissioned a Mount Rushmore-type sculpture of its own, Sir Bruno Serato (knighted by his native Italy) would be a good bet for the first figure carved. Twelve years ago, the Anaheim White House Restaurant owner started serving pasta dinners to kids living in motels. Today, Caterina’s Club—named after his mother, who inspired the work—serves 12,000-plus dinners each week throughout SoCal, in addition to feeding hungry children in Texas, New York, Mexico, Italy and Africa. Caterina’s Club’s Welcome Home program has helped move 126 families living in motels and cars to permanent housing. And Chef Bruno’s Hospitality Academy provides at-risk teens with a 12-week curriculum that preps them for jobs in the restaurant and hotel industry.
“The triangle of programs matches beautifully with feeding kids, having a safe home and finding a job,” says Serato, who has a book coming out in October, titled The Power of Pasta: A Celebrity Chef’s Mission to Feed America’s Hungry Children ($25, SelectBooks).
All this explains the tremendous support Serato received after his restaurant of 30 years burned down in February. Friends and strangers have donated about $200,000 through a GoFundMe campaign. He hopes to reopen by year’s end.
Typical of Serato, his first thoughts after the fire were about others: “I needed a kitchen to make sure the kids we help had a hot meal on Monday, and I needed to find jobs for the more than 60 employees who... are part of my family.” He accomplished both due to an outpouring of generosity that’s become a constant in his life. “I’ve been shown this love since Caterina’s Club started 12 years ago, and the love continues to pour forth each and every day.”