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La Jolla restaurants provide the recipes for St. Germaine Children’s Charity cookbook

"Dining In" contains more than 50 recipes created and donated by chefs from over 40 La Jolla restaurants.
“Dining In” contains more than 50 recipes created and donated by chefs from over 40 La Jolla restaurants, with sales proceeds going to local child abuse prevention agencies.
(Courtesy)

Proceeds from sales of ‘Dining In’ will help fund child abuse prevention services.

Just in time for the holidays, St. Germaine Children’s Charity has created a cookbook featuring more than 50 recipes created and donated by chefs from over 40 La Jolla restaurants.

It’s intended to be a win/win/win, with proceeds from sales of the book going to local child abuse prevention agencies while highlighting the chefs and restaurants and helping La Jolla-based St. Germaine carry out its mission.

The cookbook, called “Dining In: Recipes from La Jolla’s Finest Restaurants,” was created in place of the 2020 Silver Tea, the organization’s traditional fundraiser. Anyone who donates $50 to St. Germaine will receive a copy, and 100 percent of the donations will be allocated directly to San Diego child abuse prevention agencies.

“The stars really had to align to make this happen,” said St. Germaine President Stefanie Bedingfield. The signature Silver Tea fundraiser didn’t lend itself to a virtual format amid the coronavirus pandemic, she said, but the group still wanted to raise money for the organizations it supports.

“With all the restaurants being hurt, we wanted to support them and still help the kids. The idea of the cookbook came from there,” Bedingfield said. “It wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill cookbook. We wanted something that rose to the level of what our supporters are used to with the Silver Tea.

“I reached out to restaurants in early September, but so much was still unknown. In order to make an impact, we had to make a book that people would want to buy at a time we didn’t know if people would be spending money.”

Eyeing the holidays, Bedingfield set a goal of having the recipes compiled and the book produced in a month and a half.

“When she said a month and a half, I said it was impossible,” said collaborator and Marine Room chef Bernard Guillas. “I wrote two cookbooks and know what it takes. I offered some recipes for which I had the rights, and I called others in The Village and they were on board.

“It’s always a challenge with chefs because we are always busy. But everyone stepped up. When you do a cookbook, you have to make sure the recipe works because the credibility of the organization is at stake. So I tried them all as the recipes came in, and they worked.”

Early contributors were Candor chef Giuseppe Ciuffa, Piatti General Manager Tom Spano and Sugar and Scribe chef Maeve Rochford, to name a few.

Guillas said the effort was worth it because “when you have so many people out of work, it puts a lot of pressure on families. St. Germaine is going to provide help for those families. ... We are on Earth for a short time and we have people who have challenges in these tough times. So if I can help kids and help families, I will.”

Bedingfield also worked with the cookbook buyer at Warwick’s bookstore to help determine sizing, price points and what people want.

“Now that everyone is cooking at home, there is demand for smaller-scale cookbooks,” Bedingfield said. “And this is cooking for a cause.”

St. Germaine’s mission is to prevent the abuse of children and young adults in San Diego by providing financial support and community awareness to agencies dedicated to the care, shelter and treatment of victims from newborn to age 25.

And with more children and families staying home during the pandemic, statistics on child abuse are “overwhelming,” Bedingfield said.

“These kids’ needs have quadrupled during the pandemic,” she said. “Those in abusive homes are stuck at home, and the mandatory reporters they might see at school — teachers, counselors, after-school programs — are not there.”

So continuing to raise money for support organizations is more important than ever, she said.

“The majority of people that have donated for a cookbook have bought more than one; it brings tears to my eyes,” Bedingfield said. “We are able to keep our grant period and grant some money. There is a lot of really good will and a lot of giving that exists in this time. It makes you proud to be a La Jollan.”

Guillas added that the book “feeds their souls as well as their stomachs.”

For the chefs who participated, the book provides a chance to “showcase the restaurants in our Village and the diverse dining scene we have,” Guillas said. “There are great tables right here.”

To learn more or donate, visit stgermainechildrenscharity.org/cookbook. ◆