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Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023

Sapphire’s Ghahreman Serves Charity Work

MaxLove among many recipients

Orange County fans of fine dining recognize the name Chef Azmin Ghahreman.

Ghahreman was the longtime owner of Sapphire Restaurant in Laguna Beach, a highly acclaimed spot along Coast Highway which he sold to restaurateur Russ Bendel in early 2020.

Prior to Sapphire, he was also the opening Executive Chef of the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort (now a Waldorf Astoria property) and has worked at five-star hotels throughout the world.

Ghahreman has since traded restaurant work for other fulfilling culinary pursuits.

He owns and operates Costa Mesa’s Sapphire Catering and Sapphire at Work, a full-service culinary experience on the premises of a business or the option of having fresh prepared foods delivered daily to corporate offices.

Large local firms including Irvine-based medical device maker Masimo Corp. and Irvine’s FivePoint Communities were reported to be Sapphire corporate clients in prior years.

His newest commercial venture is Blue Stone Kitchen, a meal delivery service also based in Costa Mesa, which offers healthy, made-from-scratch “affordable meals-to-go only require a few minutes to reheat” for individual and corporate customers in Orange County.

MaxLove & More

Ghahreman’s name is also well known in Orange County’s philanthropic circles.

In 2008, the chef/entrepreneur founded Sapphire at School, an innovative school lunch program currently partnered with nine schools in Orange County.

The program feeds more than 5,000 students daily.

Ghahreman has been a hero to many local charities, by using his culinary talents to help raise funds for MaxLove Project, Miracles for Kids, Live for Others Foundation, Father Serra’s Food Pantry, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Last fall, MaxLove Project held its annual Farm to Fork fundraiser dinner, with Ghahreman serving as executive chef, as he has done for the past seven years.

Founded in 2011, MaxLove Project’s mission is to improve quality of life and reduce health risks for families surviving childhood cancer and related rare diseases. MaxLove Project focuses on all the things families can do outside the hospital to achieve maximum quality of life for the patient and the whole family, including tailored cooking classes, whole-family wellness resources and therapies, and professionally designed, facilitated, and researched health and wellness programs.

More than 350 guests enjoyed an al fresco dinner at Tanaka Farms, created by Ghahreman. The menu, served family style, included Peruvian spatchcock chicken, roast prime beef sirloin, Persian roast corn, grilled cauliflower, baby carrots, and fennel dusted roast baby potato.

“Our team is the same every year, the chefs and volunteers, and we get help from culinary students at Orange County School of the Arts,” said the chef.

Most dishes are cooked on-site over large grills. Kitchen prep work begins two weeks before the event.

Local Accolades

Ghahreman took a break from the kitchen during the 2022 event to come on the MaxLove stage and accept the organization’s Gold Heart Award for lending his talent to the fundraising dinner every year and for his unwavering commitment to bettering childhood nutrition and helping kids thrive against cancer.

A short video introducing Ghahreman mentioned his motto: “The sky is not the limit. Go beyond the sky, explore, take chances.”

“I support other charities, but this one is very special to me,” Ghahreman said. “The first year we did this event, we raised $30,000. Tonight, we raised much more.”

Ghahreman, born in Iran, told the crowd that “we have a saying in my language:

Remember the day you were born you were crying and everyone around you was laughing. Live such a life that the day you leave, you are smiling and everyone around you will be crying.”

Everyone at MaxLove was certainly smiling that evening—the event raised more than $300,000.

For more information, visit maxloveproject.org and sapphirecatering.com.

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