One of the most touching moments of Project Angel Food’s Lead with Love 2021 telethon was a beautiful tribute to our beloved Chef Randy Nakamura, who died of COVID-19 in early January. Eric McCormack led a toast with Pauley Perrette, Sandra Lee, Loni Love, and co-host Jessica Holmes, and our Executive Director, Richard Ayoub, onstage; along with Alec Mapa and the All-Star Angels in our Celebrity Call Lounge.
Brad Garrett, Cat Cora and Chef Stuart O’Keefe, Executive Chef John Gordon, and kitchen assistant Mayra Nava also paid their respects.
Randy joined Project Angel Food in 2020 as one of the restaurant chefs hired to replace volunteers during the pandemic. Project Angel Food followed strict safety protocols and created a work bubble of a small team of chefs, who worked masked, six feet apart, had daily temperature checks and regular COVID testing. The agency had gone nine months with not a single employee testing positive for the virus until the holiday COVID surge; that impacted several employees and took Randy’s life.
Richard describes the day he heard the news of Randy’s passing as “the hardest day” in Project Angel Food’s history. And, though vaccines at that point were not readily available, he reached out to other frontline organizations and community leaders until he could secure vaccines for the entire staff, in honor of Chef Randy.
Project Angel Food’s Lead with Love 2021 aired on KTLA 5 on July 17, 2021. Over $1.1 Million was raised to continue Project Angel Food’s mission of serving Medically Tailored Meals to critically ill men, women, and children. During the pandemic the need for service skyrocketed from servicing 1,500 clients per day to feeing 2,300clients per day. With record number of new enrollments, projections are that Project Angel Food will be feeding 2,500 clients per day by September. We could use your support. Please donate today.