Ticket proceeds benefit the Golden Rule Charity. Chef Rob Wilson shares why this matters.
Voted as one of the best food-and-wine festivals in the world, the Pacific Wine & Food Classic will be taking place Aug. 17 and 18 at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.
The region’s top chefs will cook up a variety of unique and vibrant dishes, all specially curated from summertime memories and inspirations. Experience more than 150 wines, cold beer and delicious craft cocktails, and while you sip and savor, you’ll be giving back to the Golden Rule Charity— the primary beneficiary of this event.
The Golden Rule Charity was founded in 2015 to support hospitality workers in times of crisis. It has been the only organization that provides timely relief to hospitality companies and employees in need on a nationwide level. Having granted individuals more than $60,000 in funds, the Golden Rule Charity has directly helped chefs, waiters, restaurant owners and managers recover from unanticipated hardships.
So why is it important to support and aid hospitality companies and employees? When disasters strike, restaurants, bars, hotels and wineries generously donate food, venue space, event planning and funds to help those afflicted. The Golden Rule Charity is passionate about delivering resources to help hospitality workers and business get back on their feet, and up and running as soon as possible.
We sat down with Chef Rob Wilson to learn more about the Golden Rule Charity and its role in helping Orange County’s restaurant community. Wilson—who is set to open his new restaurant, Glasspar, in Dana Point—currently sits on the board of directors. And, as a veteran in the industry, he knows a thing or two about the hardships that come with the territory and the importance of living by the golden rule.
Tell us about the role the Golden Rule Charity plays?
Most front-of-the-house employees make minimum wage plus tips, while the back-of-the-house employees make barely over minimum wage, and most don’t make tips. Managers and sous chef who are on salary work 60-plus hours a week, and if you were to break down their salary to an hourly wage, they make way less than a server at minimum wage plus tips—not to mention they work twice as much. Most can’t afford insurance and live paycheck-to-paycheck. When hardship hits, it can be devastating to the individual or family. Most don’t have enough money in savings to pay bills, rent, not to mention medical bills. That’s when the Golden Rule Charity comes in to support those in need.
What obstacles have you encountered that could have been eased by this type of help?
It’s important for the public to support local business rather than giant corporate chains because of convenience. Also, addressing social media in a positive way rather than in a negative manner. The people in the hospitality industry are given very little slack if they make a mistake. We are all human and we all make mistakes.
Can you give any examples of how the Golden Rule Charity has helped someone in the industry?
Golden Rule Charity has given out many grants to hospitality employees in need. I have a couple of stories. First is Simon, a dishwasher for 16 years at a local restaurant who was sending his daughter to a university in Mexico. The Golden Rule Charity was able to gift him a grant of $1,000 to assist. Second were two chefs who worked for me at one point. I was able to nominate them both for a $500 grant through Golden Rule’s 12 days of giving last December. Fortunately, both of them received a $500 grant to help make their family Christmas a little better.
What’s the best way for people to help?
The public can give back by supporting nonprofits like the Golden Rule Charity because it comes directly back to hospitality employees in need. They can also help by supporting local restaurants by dining out more frequently. If restaurants are busy, the workers are making money to support themselves and their families.
On a more personal note, we’re excited about the opening of Glasspar! How do you cultivate an atmosphere where your team feels supported, like family?
We are super excited about Glasspar as well. Our plan is to cultivate a teamwork environment where we all succeed as one cohesive unit. We all support one another and everyone wins—one team, one dream. We will be implementing a tip pool for all the employees from the dishwashers on up. Everyone plays an important role in running a restaurant, and everyone should be compensated fairly. If you treat your employees like family, they will become your family.
Do you have any mentors in your career who have inspired you to live by the golden rule?
Yes, I have been fortunate to have quite a few mentors in my 33-plus year career. The one that sticks out the most is Executive Chef Christian Rassinoux. He was the executive chef for The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel for 22 years, and I had the pleasure of working for him for seven years. He not only is a great chef but a true gentleman in the kitchen. He always told me that you need to take care of those who take care of you.
And, finally, we’ve got to ask: What will you be serving at The Pacific Food and Wine Classic?
I am serving two dishes: Baja Shell Fish Farms Kumiai oysters with summer peach pickled mustard seed mignonette, and chilled summer corn soup with fresh lime cream, Baja Shell Fish Farms Cortez clams and Whales Cove mussel salpicon.
General admission and VIP tickets for both days are available online. For specific information on ticket pricing and booking, visit pacificwineandfood.com.