Chef Bruno Serato serves more than 1,000 hungry kids a day in Orange County, California, through Caterina's Club, an organization inspired by his late mother.
Chef Serves Up Millionth Free Meal to Hungry Children
LESTER HOLT, anchor:
Before we go tonight, we want to tell you about a kitchen that feeds some of the neediest kids in its area that just so happens to be inside one of the ritziest restaurants in the country. It's the passion of a chef with full heart who won't abide empty stomachs, especially among children. NBC's Joe Fryer has tonight's Making a Difference report.
JOE FRYER, reporting:
Of all the meals served at the Anaheim White House Restaurant--
BRUNO SERATO: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine--
FRYER: --Chef Bruno Serato's favorite is the one that calls for 90 pounds of pasta and 15 gallons of marinara.
SERATO: This is where all the magic happen.
FRYER: The story behind this massive feast dates back to 2005 when Serato and his mother Caterina stopped by a Boys and Girls Club and saw one boy eating potato chips for dinner.
SERATO: She definitely did not like that. Imagine Italian mom--pasta, pasta, pasta.
FRYER: So mom insisted the chef whip up an Italian dinner for the club.
SERATO: One of the kids was like, from one to 10, I'm rating you a 10 because your pasta's very good.
FRYER: That's probably the best review you ever got, right?
SERATO: The-- the number one ever.
FRYER: Chef Bruno has served nightly meals ever since.
SERATO: You want some pasta?
CROWD (in unison): Yes.
FRYER: Now feeding 1,200 kids a day through a nonprofit called Caterina's Club, named after his mom.
SERATO: She was very proud. I just lost her a few months ago. It was the hardest day of my life.
FRYER: You do this in honor of her?
SERATO: Even more now.
FRYER: After 10 years, they're celebrating 1 million meals served.
CROWD (in unison): Pasta.
FRYER: Yet the chef's appetite continues to grow. He's focusing on another problem, families living in tiny motel rooms.
LIZZ FIGUEROA: This is my pantry.
FRYER: Lizz Figueroa, her husband and five kids call this cramped space home.
FIGUEROA: I've been telling them for years God has something better for us. God has something better for us.
FRYER: So does Chef Bruno. He started a program that gives families money to cover first and last month's rent and a security deposit.
SERATO: And I'm going to give you a key for a new house as soon as we find yours.
FRYER: The Figueroas are the eightieth family to get help.
FIGUEROA: God bless you.
SERATO: This is all thanks to my mom. Did I forget you?
FRYER: For Chef Bruno, the good reviews keep coming. Joe Fryer, NBC News, Anaheim, California.
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