Top OC Chef prepares the perfect paella with youth in Waymakers’ programs

Paella with Purpose Blog Photo

Photo by Ranggin Hedayat

After navigating his way as an immigrant to the United States, Chef Leo Razo knows how difficult it is to find the right path when carving out your future. From his humble beginning as a dishwasher to his current success as the owner of two acclaimed restaurants in Orange County—most recently Cambalache Grill in Fountain Valley— this compassionate chef (named “Top OC Chef” in 2018 by OC Chef’s Table) recently demonstrated his award-winning cooking skills for the young participants of Waymakers’ Gang Prevention and Youth Development Program and the residents of the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter, all of whom are looking for the path to a positive future.

Over 20 boys and girls watched and helped stir as Chef Razo created a savory paella in a massive skillet. As he sautéed, Chef Razo shared his personal story and encouraged the adolescents to explore their culinary interests, learn new skills, and seek advice. Chef Razo’s success shows that with lots of passion, hard work, long hours and many sacrifices, the youth can turn their lifelong dreams to reality—just like he did.

Elsa Greenfield, program director of Waymakers’ Huntington Beach Youth Shelter, said, “In addition to getting to enjoy a tasty treat, it was so inspiring to see Chef Razo—a wonderful mentor—connect with our kids in such a unique way.  This is one dinnertime discussion they will always remember.”

Young people face many challenges as they strive to reach their full potential. Our programs are designed to help youth avoid the dangers of gang life, and reinforce the importance of redirecting struggling youth to get their life back on track.

To learn more, click here and check out a recent Daily Pilot feature story about Paella with a Purpose.

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