Mission Dolores Academy | The education of tomorrow rooted in tradition.

MDA Benefit Luncheon a Huge Success

May 11, 2017

San Francisco's Celebrity Chefs Whip it up in the Kitchen for Mission Dolores Academy

Back Row (L to R): Cyrille Pannier (Four Seasons) & Gerald Hirigoyen (Piperade)
Middle Row (L to R): John Madriage (Spruce), Lisa Vega (Dandelion Chocolate), Father Chales Gagan (MDA), Mourad Lahlou (Mourad) & Mark Sullivan (Spruce)
Front Row (L to R): Charles Phan (Slanted Door), Deja, Emily, Ahmad & Hunter(1st Grade MDA)

Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, winner of the prestigious James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant, orchestrated yet another chef dream team in support of inner-city students as San Francisco’s leading chefs were in the kitchen for the fifth consecutive year in support of Mission Dolores Academy and this innovative K-8 school’s effort to provide a world-class, technology-rich education to inner-city students.


The school’s annual Top Chefs Benefit Luncheon featured a three-course culinary concert exquisitely orchestrated by Charles Phan of The Slanted Door, with contributions from Phan, Mourad Lahlou of Mourad, Mark Sullivan of Spruce, Cyrille Pannier of the Four Seasons Hotel, Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade, and Lisa Vega of Dandelion Chocolate.

Kate Kelly & Tom Klein

At the event, the school was proud to honor Kate Kelly and Tom Klein for their many years of support to the school. A Bay Area native, Kate enjoyed a nearly three-decade career as an Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchor at KPIX.  Prior to this year, Kate graciously volunteered as emcee for all 15 of the school’s previous luncheons!  Tom is a fourth-generation California farmer, and has been Proprietor of Rodney Strong Vineyards since 1989 and also serves as Chairman of the Board for The First Tee San Francisco. Rodney Strong generously donated the wines to compliment the luncheon.


The event was presided over by the school’s founder Father Charles Gagan as emcee, and was attended by over 400 of the City’s top business, civic, and philanthropic leaders including Mayor Willie Brown, several members of the Board of Supervisors – President London Breed, Malia Cohen, Asha Safai, Jeff Sheehy, and Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

Kindergarten in action 

The highlight of the luncheon, as always, were the students of Mission Dolores Academy! Guests had the opportunity during the reception to meet with students, listen to musical performances from the String Program and the Kindergarten class, and enjoyed an inspirational speech from Class of 2016 alumna Jadelynn Johnson, now a Freshman at University High School.

Father Charlie with MDA Class of 2016 Alumna Jadelynn Johnson

 Guests bid on a number of exciting packages including a private SFMOMA experience, whiskey tasting and dinner at Hard Water, a Big Sur off-road and helicopter adventure, a private dinner at Mourad with chauffeured Bentleys, a medieval Tuscan getaway, and a private dinner prepared by beloved clergy Fr. Xavier Lavagetto and Fr. Charles Gagan.

Live Auction

            A huge thank you to our donors, teachers, staff, parents and guardians who so generously supported the luncheon. Funds raised at the luncheon are essential in providing scholarships and offering tuition assistance to MDA families.  

Eighth Grade student Saron chatting to guests including MDA Board member Jerry Brooner
 Willie Brown with MDA Principal Meredith Essalat
Music was provided by our String Program students led by Maestro Calvin Murasaki
Eighth Grade students Vontre and Amari Williams say grace 
Head of School Paul Recktenwald


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