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BEACH GOURMET: The Sixth Annual Dine Out Program: Chomping for Charity

For a two-week period, from August 19-23 and August 26-30, the sixth annual S.Pellegrino Dine Out will be conducted in Los Angeles with many Santa Monica restaurants participating.

The eateries taking part in this worthy cause will be offering special three-course prix fixe lunches ($25) and dinners ($35) with a bottle of S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water or Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water. For every meal sold, $1 will be donated to Share Our Strength, a charitable organization that works with many local groups – such as Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness – in an effort to end, or at least reduce, childhood hunger in the area.

One local restaurateur who has been active in this effort from its inception in 2001 is Mary Sue Milliken, chef and co-owner of Border Grill, located at 1445 4th Street.

Milliken said the Dine Out was the brainchild of Patty Pritcher, a Santa Monica resident who works for S.Pellegrino, and has grown from just Los Angeles for the first two years to a total of seven communities nationwide, including Chicago, New Orleans and Westchester County, NY.

Milliken also said that during the 2006 S. Pellegrino Dine Out they sold 250 meals at Border Grill and 440 meals at Ciudad, her restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Their goal for this year is to double those numbers, and the overachieving wait staff at both restaurants is very committed to helping end childhood hunger. They love to do better than the year before, and they also want to do better than the other restaurants. A little friendly competition to benefit hungry children!

The three-course special dishes available at Border Grill sound tasty and tantalizing, and include a Green Corn Tamale appetizer served with sour cream and salsa fresca, and entrees such as Grilled Skirt Steak marinated with garlic, cilantro, cumin and cracked black pepper and served with charred corn relish, Persian cucumber and sweet pepper salad, black beans and handmade flour tortilla. The meal is rounded off with Vanilla Flan or Aztec Chocolate cake.

This is undoubtedly a very worthy cause and quite the most enjoyable way to help those who are struggling with hunger. With almost 17 percent of Los Angeles area families living below the poverty line, Milliken had this to say about the problem:

“My goal is to raise awareness about childhood hunger right here in our community – LA County. We may not always see it or understand it – but children come to our schools hungry. Sometimes obese children are on a yo-yo eating schedule that leaves them without food and hungry for several days each month. They have trouble learning and become disruptive. Hungry children get sick more often and have trouble getting well again. In California, where we have more than plenty, this is criminal. With enough public outcries and by investing private and public hunger-fighting funds wisely, we can end childhood hunger and create a hunger-free generation. Share Our Strength knows how. The Washington, D.C. pilot program is paving the way, and we are ready to bring it to other communities where the need is great. You can help by supporting restaurants that offer Dine Out, attending Share Our Strength fundraisers in LA, holding a Great American Bake sale and donating the profits to Share Our Strength, becoming a Share Our Strength volunteer in LA. Go to and learn more. “

Here is a list of Santa Monica and Venice restaurants that are offering gastronomic delights in order to alleviate the suffering of others within our community: Border Grill, Santa Monica; Chaya, Venice; Chinois on Main; i.Cugini; La Vecchia Cucina; Locanda Del Lago; Michael’s; Ocean Avenue Seafood; Tengu, Santa Monica; Vito Restaurant.

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