“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
Barbara has been and continues to be deeply involved with a variety of humanitarian causes. She and Wolfgang created the former Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation that was a chief supporter of Meals-on-Wheels, which founded and hosted 28 years of the American Wine & Food Festival in Los Angeles and raised over 30 million dollars to provide meals for the homebound, disabled and elderly. Barbara and Wolfgang also co-founded and organized the annual California Spirit Gala raising 15 million dollars for the American Cancer Society over the past twenty-nine years. In addition to all this, she has done much, much more. She is on several Boards of Directors and over the years, her varied charitable works have touched most every area of philanthropy from humanitarian, social, and educational to environmental, artistic and medical.
Barbara’s unwavering altruism was acknowledged with the NAWBO-LA Legacy Award for Philanthropy and the James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award, along with co-recipient Chef Wolfgang Puck. She is a very active participant in various women’s education and empowerment organizations. She was one of the original members of NEWH-LA, and in 2000 NAWBO-LA inaugurated her into their Hall of Fame for business acumen and leadership. She was a founding member of the International Association of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) and was inducted by the National Association of Women Business Owners-Los Angeles Chapter into their 2000 Millennium Hall of Fame. Her philanthropic efforts have supported groups such as Girl Scouts, Big Sisters, and the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee.
Some of Barbara’s philanthropic affiliations include:
American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF)
For 28 years, The Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation hosted the American Wine & Food Festival (AWFF). One of America’s premier culinary events, the AWFF featured 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.
AWFF Evening On The Beach:
The 28th Annual American Wine & Food Festival:
The California Spirit Event
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.
In April of 2016, Barbara hosted the 32nd annual Passover Seder benefitting MAZON, A Jewish Response To Hunger. which is a national nonprofit working to end hunger among all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. The dinner raises funds that help families in Los Angeles.
Each year, on the second seder night, 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.
The story of this unique seder's start..
Living in Los Angeles, 3,000 miles from her childhood home, as Passover drew near, Barbara Lazaroff turned to [then-husband] Wolfgang Puck suggesting a community Seder. She thought of the many people like her who lived far from their families and 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 quickly becoming a master of Passover cuisine.
These days about 40% of today's Spago Seder guests are not Jewish. Along with their Jewish friends, they love the tradition and camaraderie, the children's choir, the humor, laughter, and warmth of this gourmet Seder. Barbara loves sharing the Passover story and tradition. For many of Spago's Seder guests,who don't spend the second Seder night with family, Spago is their home on Passover. (As it is year-round.)
At the 27th annual gourmet Seder in 2011, attendees included award-winner Lainie Kazan, Grammy Award-winner Melissa Manchester, and Tony/Grammy Award-winner "Jersey Boy" John Lloyd Young. The Westside Children's Choir again captivated and charmed the guests.
The 26th annual gourmet Seder in 2010 was conducted by Rabbi Arnold Rachlis D.D. and Cantor Ruti Braier with over 200 people. 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.
In 2010 Barbara was KindredSPIRITS' special honoree, receiving the KindredSPIRITS Humanitarian Award. This concert of world music celebrating unity and peace also benefitted Mazon.
That year, 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 Platinum Associate member on the Council of Guardians for the Aviva Family and Children’s Services. She was instrumental in the design and fundraising of nearly $1,000,000.00 for the remodel of the Wallis Annenberg Center which fosters, educates and nurtures at-risk female teenagers.Frette linen company on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, September 2009, 20% of sales from Barbara's design showcase went to Aviva Family and Children’s Services — Barbara's selected cause.
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Friends of Sheba
Barbara has been a member of the Board of The Friends of Sheba since 2009 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
A member of the Board of Directors since 2011, 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.
Jewish Life Television
Launched in 2007, Jewish Life Television is a 24-hour TV network delivering Jewish-themed programming. Always into sharing Jewish culture and keeping Jewish history alive, Barbara joined the Board of Governors in 2010. In the U.S., JLTV can be seenin all 50 states reaching over 40 million households. Viewers can also see JLTV in Canada. Website members can access live and on-demand programming; watch its unique local, national and international news stories; and take part in its online social networks.