For many years, chef Bruno Serato had been serving fancy gourmet food at his iconic restaurant, The White House of Anaheim in California, to rich patrons and celebrities. He had another agenda though.
Bruno, an Italian immigrant who entered the United States with just $200 in his pocket as a child, worked his way up from a busboy to being a restaurant owner with just one purpose in life—feeding the poor children of California and beyond, via his non-profit organization, Caterina’s Club (named after his late mother).
All his earnings from the restaurant went to serving pasta to the children for free so that they were never hungry. Even during the recession, he refinanced his own house just so that he could continue to pay to feed the children. Over the years, he has extended his reach to helping hundreds of families escape motel living and get permanent housing. The regal-looking ‘White House in Anaheim’ was the only restaurant in the world that served over 2250 dinners to children in need every night, totaling over one and a half million free dinners in Southern California alone.
Chosen as one of 2011’s CNN heroes of the Year, this is a man who has spoken at the United Nations and on Vatican TV. He has received a papal blessing from Pope Francis and a humanitarian award at the steps of the U.S. Capitol. In fact, he is Sir Bruno Serato, having being knighted by the Italian government.
Which is why this paragraph hurts more. In a heartbreaking twist, the White House of Anaheim caught fire in February 2017 from an electrical mishap. When the flames were ultimately extinguished, there was nothing left of the restaurant. The damage was extensive and would not be completely covered by insurance.
Even as he stood in the middle of the charred remains of his life’s dream, Bruno was seen crying, worried over what the children would do now and who would look after them.
The angel in a chef’s hat did not realize it but a thousand different angels were about to unfold their wings.
He would cry again later that evening as he returned home heartbroken and turned on his internet. Social media across Anaheim stood up to console Bruno during his worst moments with messages of love and kindness. Tales of his generosity and their memories of him flooded the net. Of course, that was not all.
Competing restaurants opened up their kitchens and pantries to Bruno, allowing him to continue feeding his children without missing a day. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange gave Bruno the keys to their kitchen and conference room at their Christ Cathedral to continue making and serving the children. Patrons and philanthropists stepped in and held fund raisers to help Bruno rebuild from scratch once more. Hundreds have volunteered man hours to help him when the time comes to start building a new restaurant.
“This is a gift from God. I can’t thank people enough for all the love and support we’ve received from restaurants, the community and people I don’t even know. Thank you,” says Sir Bruno Serato.
Today, the journey continues for Bruno. He is a living embodiment of the saying that ‘When you give out kindness to the world, you are rewarded with kindness a hundred-fold in return.’
Thanks to the love he served over the years, thousands have stood up to show their love not just in words but in deeds, ensuring Bruno’s dream continues and children still get served some of the best pasta in California by their favorite chef, a real knight and a true hero.