By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Riviera resident Patti Reiss is chairing the second annual Taste of St. Joseph Center, which will take place on Thursday, February 27, at Playa Studios in Culver City.
Funds raised will benefit St. Joseph Center, an independent, nonprofit, community-based organization that reaches more than 10,000 individuals annually through outreach, housing, mental health and job training programs.
“The organization of St. Joseph Center as a whole is so phenomenal,” Reiss told the Palisadian-Post.
For the second year in a row, Taste of St. Joseph welcomes 30 participating restaurants and beverage sponsors for a “unique evening of culinary experiences.”
“St. Joseph Center’s mission is to provide working poor families, as well as homeless men, women, and children of all ages, with the inner resources and tools to become productive, stable and self-supporting members of the community,” the organization’s website explains.
The Taste of St. Joseph food and drink festival will raise funds for the Center’s Culinary Training Program, founded in 1991, which teaches skills to low-income adults in kitchen safety, culinary techniques, and professional and life skills to help obtain jobs in the food service industry.
“I started on the board as a result of my work from last year,” Reiss recalled.
Last year the festival raised $70,000 for the program, which includes eight weeks of culinary training and four weeks of working in an external kitchen. More than 85% of those graduating from the program have obtained jobs, Reiss said.
“This year, we’ve expanded to support the Bread and Roses Café in Venice and the Food Pantry,” Reiss said.
These two programs are an extension of St. Joseph Center—Bread and Roses Café serves hot meals to individuals experiencing homelessness in a restaurant-style setting and Food Pantry provides low-income households with supplemental groceries and educational workshops.
Reiss and her husband, California-native Dave, own several restaurants as part of the Reiss Company, including Yours Truly Venice, Vito’s Pizza in Santa Monica and downtown, The Brig, Alibi Room and Sunny Spot.
The couple married 17 years ago and moved to the Palisades six years ago with their two children—Ilan, 16, who attends Palisades Charter High School and Geneva, 11, who goes to Canyon Charter Elementary School.
Reiss sits on the board for St. Joseph Center and has chaired the festival for both years.
This year’s festival will honor CTP Graduate Caroline Concha as Chef of the Year.
Concha will be “recognized for her work at Beelman’s, where she transformed a meat-heavy menu into a plant-based one,” according to a statement. She is also being honored for her commitment to helping others.
Concha, originally from the Philippines, moved to the U.S. at the age of 19 and currently works at Mohawk Bend, a restaurant in Echo Park.
If the festival reaches its same fundraising goal, it could mean 23 full scholarships for low-income CTP students and food for 10,313 meals for homeless guests at Bread and Roses Café—plus, one week worth of high-quality organic food products for Food Pantry and 259 low-income families, Reiss added.
Reiss told the Post her volunteer work enables her to try and make a difference while we are living in our current social and political climate.
“I feel like the little ripples of change that I can support can only have deeper impacts in our society,” Reiss said.
For tickets and more information, visit tasteofsjc.eventbrite.com.