For years, a chef feeds underprivileged kids in his upscale restaurant and says that…

In control of the White House is an Italian. He is not the leader of the United States, but to the hundreds of underprivileged kids, he serves a dish of flavorful pasta every day, his work is just as crucial, if not more so. His White House, so named because it resembles the White House of the United States of America, is a historic restaurant in Anaheim, California, which is the place where the first Disneyland park is located. Bruno Serato is 62 years old.

Children who might have otherwise skipped supper have received 3 million hot meals thanks to Chef Serato since 2005. He was unaffected by the 2008 financial crisis, nor was he by the fire that demolished his restaurant in February 2017 and forced it to close for 15 months.

Serato advises, “When misfortune strikes you, do the thing you enjoy the most. For me, that entails preparing noodles for the kids. They were the ones who gave me the willpower to survive both a physical and psychological inferno. and to begin once more.

It all began one afternoon, 14 years prior, when the chef accompanied his mother, Caterina, to work at a Boys and Girls Club facility, a charity that aids young people in need.

Serato recalls, “We saw a tiny one eating on some chips. It was around 4 p.m.” The center director explains to me that since there is no kitchen in the hotel room where he and his parents reside, it will be his dinner. Right away, my mother Caterina said to me, “Why don’t you cook him some pasta?” However, there were 20 to 30 other kids in the center who were in a similar situation. So I provided everyone with noodles. Since then, I have not stopped!

The number of needy children has skyrocketed since the 2008 economic crisis: from the initial 30 or so to 300 and more a day, distributed among numerous organizations.

The chef says, “So many visitors come to Disneyland to have fun, but those who work for them frequently earn meager compensation with which they struggle to feed a family. Many people stay in motels because they lack the funds to pay an apartment’s security deposit. They lack a kitchen as a result, and their kids frequently skip supper.

The Feeding the Children project, which was self-funded until 2011, was in danger of ceasing to exist.

«Business was less booming due to the crisis, and my restaurant’s manager had complained that the complimentary spaghetti was too expensive, costing roughly $80,000 annually. But in the meantime,» the chef says, «the Boys and Girls Club manager was informing me that there wasn’t enough pasta for all the kids. Now what? Hoping for a miracle, I prayed to God and quadrupled the spaghetti.

The miracle came to pass when Serato was selected by CNN as one of the top ten “Heroes of the Year,” garnering him so much attention that he attracted a lot of donations.

The chef recalls, “Barilla from Italy called me right away and sent me a complete truckload of spaghetti: it still provides me with pasta and sauces.”

At that point, he made the decision to found a nonprofit organization called Caterina’s Club in memory of his mother (who passed away in September 2014, the day before her 90th birthday), and to expand its programs with two other initiatives in addition to «Feeding the Children,» which now provides 20,000 hot meals per week to 80 facilities in 27 cities in Orange County, the region surrounding Los Angeles. Welcome Home («Welcome Home») is one of them.

Serato summarizes it as follows:

I assist families with children in leaving the motels where they frequently reside next to drug dealers and prostitutes. I locate them a rental and provide the requisite two months as a guarantee and rent deposit. I’ve moved about 200 families so far, or one every two weeks.

The impact on the kids is profound. Parents “are sometimes initially distrustful and don’t grasp my goal,” the chef explains. Then they praise me and let me know that their son, who used to be the worst student in the class, is now the best student.

The third project, geared for at-risk teenagers, is the “Hospitality Academy.”

«I make them work in my restaurant for 3 months while I teach them every job in this industry, from dishwasher to waiter to cook. More than 100 people have already completed my “Academy” and obtained employment.

When he first came in California in 1980 with only $200 in his pocket, he had to start working as a dishwasher.

I was raised in France, where my parents had immigrated after the war, so I know French and Italian as well as English, the chef explains.

Serato had been employed in restaurants in Italy since he was 14 years old, where the family had relocated in 1966.

«For the first two months, my sister, who had recently gotten married and was residing in California, housed me. But I quickly grew bored with being at home and found work as a dishwasher at the White House,» the chef explains. My ability was instantly recognized by the owner, who after a few days promoted me to waitress. I took over as manager after four years, and after seven I asked to acquire the restaurant outright. But I lacked sufficient funds.

With just a handshake, the elderly owner gave Serato the confidence to rent the White House for three years, giving him enough time to gather up enough money to buy the property outright. Under his direction, the restaurant gained notoriety and was attended by genuine presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, as well as stars like Andrea Bocelli, Pelé, and Carlo Ponti Jr., a conductor and Sofia Loren’s son.

The chef remembers, “Sofia Loren contacted me the day of the fire to offer me strength.” Italy as a whole seemed to be hugging me, Bravo Bruno!, the actress said in the preface of Serato’s book The power of pasta. You bestowed inspiration to act morally by using pasta, Italy’s most well-known food export.