Diverse Community Leader Award Honoree
Bill Bracken (Huntington Beach)
Bill Bracken is a nationally renowned chef who has accrued numerous awards and critical acclaim during his 35-year culinary career. About six years ago, he traded in his executive chef’s apron for a black T-shirt embossed with the slogan for the enterprise he heads: “Bracken’s Kitchen,” the shirt reads, “Driven to Combat Food Insecurity, One Tasty Meal at a Time.”
Bill began by volunteering to cook meals at a soup-kitchen, but always at the back of his mind was a concern about those who could not get to the kitchen. Then in 2014, a generous caterer, Bruce Hecker, donated “Betsy” – a ketchup-red, fully outfitted food truck. Soliciting the support of many local businesses and donors, Bill has since set up regularly scheduled stops for his food truck in Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine. There he dishes up free, fresh, healthy, tasty meals to families and children as well as homeless adults. Betsy’s menu is prepared from scratch by Bill and a troop of volunteers at rent-free space in the Hana Kitchens culinary incubator in Huntington Beach,
Food is the first and most basic of human needs for survival and as a result it is a very powerful force in a person’s life. Bill and his team have learned that serving a high quality and tasty meal gives people hope for a brighter tomorrow and a better future. The children look forward to meals with anticipation on the day each week when the big red truck pulls up to serve them. Bill’s team feels that providing services to this population should and can be done in a dignified manner. Utilizing the power and popularity of the Food Truck, the Kitchen provides meals in a manner that echoes a fun, upbeat environment.
Through creative collaboration and a foundation of compassion, Bracken’s Kitchen has partnered with like-minded individuals and organizations to build a sustainable model that utilizes culinary creativity to serve those suffering from both the ongoing effects of poverty and food insecurity.
About the Award
Our annual Diverse Community Leaders Award honors individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights.
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