Nonprofit MaxLove Project hosts annual fundraiser to help families of children with cancer

Chefs thrive in building a helpful community through upcoming gala.
Photograph Courtesy of MaxLove Project

MaxLove Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families of children with cancer, celebrates its eighth annual Farm to Fork fundraiser at Tanaka Farms on Sept. 17, part of pediatric cancer awareness month. Cofounder Audra DiPadova Wilford is amazed at the group’s growth. “(It’s) really incredible when you think about it. We started this event in such a humble and grassroots manner.” As MaxLove moves into its second decade, Wilford will shift the format of the event. “We’ll be moving away from the gala format to something more intimate and fun. Now we’re sailing through into the next 10 years and into a much bigger vision to accomplish our mission.” Community members involved with Farm to Fork share their passion for it on the eve of its final year in this form.


Glenn Tanaka, owner of Tanaka Farms: “It’s a pay-it-forward type of thing. Maybe someday you might have to take advantage of this group. As a businessperson, if you have the facilities and ability to do things like this, it’s such a shame if you don’t share it and use it for good. It is a real feel-good experience.”

Azmin Ghahreman, chef-owner of Sapphire Culinary Group and Blue Stone Kitchen: “I love what Audra’s doing—bringing (support) to kids in hospitals who are not feeling well and need better food. How many people get the chance to lead a team of volunteer chefs and cook on an open fire for 600 people and still the food is as good as in a restaurant? I love it!”

Michael Puglisi, owner of Electric City Butcher in Santa Ana: “Folks are pretty selfless. It’s about providing a platform and support for families in need. It’s an amazing opportunity for community to come together. You have this beautiful gala-style event, but on a farm. Everyone’s walking around on the grass but at the same time really trying to shine and be supportive.”

Shachi Mehra, chef-owner of Adya and founder of SpiceGirl Sauces: “Audra does the thing that she wants you to do. … I don’t think there’s anyone I know who doesn’t know someone … affected by cancer. You meet the children, you meet the people, you see how being a part of this actually changes someone’s life. Even being able to be a tiny part of the support that goes into a family of a child with cancer is such a big deal. Because this is so impactful, that’s what makes it very special personally.”

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