“Few super chefs have rallied other chefs to charity causes as well as the team of Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff.”
Juliette Rossant, SuperChefBlog
Barbara Lazaroff — Philanthropist
The causes nearest to Barbara’s heart
A consummate do-gooder, Barbara’s public & private giving reflect her compassion and concern for her fellow man. Over the years, her varied charitable works have touched most every area of philanthropy from humanitarian, social, and educational to environmental, artistic and medical. Some of Barbara’s current philanthropic affiliations include:
American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF)
For almost three decades, The Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation has hosted the American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF). One of America’s premier culinary events, the AWFF features an unparalleled roster of star chefs from around the country, a world-class selection of wines and spirits, exceptional auction items and entertainment. This event raised millions and millions of dollars for the Los Angeles Chapter of Meals on Wheels helping to feed the homebound, senior and disabled citizens of the community. Barbara co-founded AWFF to share the success that she and Wolfgang were enjoying in the food industry.
The first-ever AWFF Evening On The Beach.
The 28th Annual American Wine & Food Festival
The California Spirit Event
Twenty-seven years ago, Barbara Lazaroff and Wolfgang Puck founded the annual California Spirit Event which has raised millions of dollars to support the American Cancer Society in its mission to eliminate cancer through research, education, and advocacy. Along with co-hostess Sherry Lansing, the Cal Spirit Event features gourmet creations by Los Angeles’ most renowned chefs, premium California wines, live entertainment, and a spectacular live and silent auction.
For over a quarter of a century, Barbara has hosted an annual Passover Seder at Spago on the second seder night, benefiting Mazon, A Jewish Response To Hunger. Patrons enjoy one of the most gourmet traditional kosher Seders while supporting Mazon’s drive to eradicate hunger by supporting a myriad of hunger relief organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad.
About the annual Spago Passover Seder benefitting Mazon to feed the hungry:
Twenty-six years ago, living in Los Angeles, 3,000 miles from her childhood home, Passover drew near and Barbara Lazaroff turned to [then-husband] Wolfgang Puck suggesting a community Seder. She knew there are many people, like her, who lived far from their families and feel alone remembering the warmth of their family Passover celebrations. A year earlier Wolf had replied that no one would come, but Barbara persisted and Wolfgang Puck, although not Jewish himself, rose to the task and quickly became a master of Passover cuisine.
Somewhat ironically about 40% of today's Spago Seder guests are not Jewish. However, along with their Jewish friends, they love the tradition and camaraderie, the children's choir, the humor, (yes, laughter), and warmth of this unique Seder and Barbara Lazaroff loves sharing the Passover story and tradition. For many of our guests, who don't spend the second Seder night with family, Spago is their home on Passover. (As it is year-round.)
On Tuesday April 19, 2011 Barbara hosted the 27th annual gourmet Seder and attendees included award-winner Lainie Kazan, Grammy Award-winner Melissa Manchester, and Tony/Grammy Award-winner "Jersey Boy" John Lloyd Young. The captivating and thoroughly charming Westside Children's Choir again performed this year.
In 2010 Barbara hosted the 26th annual gourmet Seder, conducted by Rabbi Arnold Rachlis D.D. and Cantor Ruti Braier. Over 200 people attended! It was, as always, quite a celebration.
Fragrant dishes included a "killer chicken soup" with fluffy air light matzoh balls, Spago chopped chicken liver, gefilte fish made from fresh pike, whitefish and carp, roasted chicken, and almond crusted salmon (courtesy of the talents of Spago's Jewish chef, Lee Hefter and Japanese chef, Tetsu Yahagi). Being a Spago Beverly Hills event, it was, of course, topped off with a sumptuous array of desserts by Spago's Sherry Yard. (Her macaroons are the best!) Spago sommelier Chris Miller poured exceptional kosher wine this year: Red C Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Napa Valley, and Chardonnay Lavan 2008, Russian River Valley.
On Sunday June 13, 2010 Barbara was KindredSPIRITS' special honoree, receiving the KindredSPIRITS Humanitarian Award. This concert of world music celebrating unity and peace also benefitted Mazon.
Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, Melissa Manchester joined the 60-Voice Gospel Choir from Faithful Central Bible Church, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, under Dr. Noreen Green's direction, and noted artists: Ilan Davidson, tenor; Chayim Frenkel, tenor; and Ilysia Pierce, soprano. This well-received concert was held at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown Los Angeles. Monies rasied from this honor went to Mazon.
Aviva Family and Children's Services
Barbara is a member of the Council of Guardians for Aviva Family and Children’s Services which provides care and treatment to abandoned, neglected, abused and at-risk youth and their families. She spearheaded the much-needed renovation of Aviva’s Wallis Annenberg Residential Treatment Center which provides 24-hour, long-term care for girls between the ages of 12 and 18.
See Aviva's page about the September 9, 2009 rededication ceremony.
See our photos of the redesign
Want to help Aviva Family and Children's Services?
To contribute time, funds or in-kind products, please email us.
Friends of Sheba
Barbara serves on the Board of The Friends of Sheba supporting Israel’s leading hospital Sheba Medical Center. Sheba Medical Center is also the largest and most comprehensive medical center in the Middle East. Barbara endows The Lazaroff International Summer Program at The Weinberg Child Development Center at Sheba Medical Center, which provides evaluations and treatment of children with developmental delays or disabilities in Tel Hashomer, Israel.
Zimmer Children's Museum
Barbara is a major supporter of the Zimmer Children’s Museum’s annual art exhibition Show&tell and its youThink art program for youth ages 9-18.
The youTHink division utilizes the power of art to foster students’ critical thinking about contemporary issues, engage diverse learners, promote literacy, and empower students to find and use their voices to take action for positive social change. youTHink conducts arts education programs in school and community settings for 2,400 students annually, most of whom attend low-income, low performing public schools.
One special closing reception for this annual Zimmer Children's Museum fund-raising art exhibit.
Israel Cancer Research Fund
Barbara is a supporter of The Israel Cancer Research Fund in its efforts to advance cancer research in Israel. Since 1975, ICRF has provided over 1688 grants to outstanding cancer researchers whose laboratories are located in all of the leading scientific research institutions, universities and hospitals in Israel. Among other breakthroughs, ICRF-funded researchers have developed improved chemotherapies, advanced techniques in bone marrow transplantation, and an enhanced understanding of tumor suppressor genes.
For example, on March 11, 2010 Barbara Lazaroff chaired an evening of events that included a performance of The Long Bright, a cantata composed by Andrea Clearfield with text by David Wolman that featured Grammy award-winning soprano Hila Plitmann under the artist direction of conductor Dr. Noreen Green, of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.