Arizona’s Top Celebrity Chefs Participated in Sonora, Mexico Charity Event

Arizona’s Top Celebrity Chefs Participated in Sonora, Mexico Charity Event
Event Brings Awareness to Valued Cross-Border Trade, Tourism Partnerships

PHOENIX – In recognition of Arizona’s long-standing relationship with Mexico, four of Arizona’s top chefs participated in Cena con el Chef (Dinner with the Chef), a Celebrity Chef Dinner and Raffle to raise funds for the State of Sonora’s Sistema de Desarrollo Integral para la Familia (Integral Family Development), or DIF Sonora. More specifically, the proceeds from the event benefit Manos A La Vida (Hands to Life), a community center focused on providing  occupational workshops for people with autism, down syndrome and intellectual disabilities – the first in Sonora.

DIF is a Mexican government institution dedicated to strengthening family welfare through public policy, government programs, and political advocacy. With more than 80 years of history, DIF has an established presence in every state of Mexico, spreading its vision of social assistance as a tool for inclusion, prevention, and social responsibility.

The Cena con el Chef dinner was held Friday, March 1, 2013 at La Cascada in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.  An estimated 600 people attended the event.  Arizona Celebrity Chefs Michael Cairns (Montelucia Resort & Spa), Lee Hillson (The Phoenician Resort & Spa), Robert Madrid (The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa), and Mel Mecinas (Four Seasons Resort) donated their time and skills to the important cause.

The President of DIF Sonora and First Lady of the State of Sonora, Iveth Dagnino de Padrés, hosted the dinner. The Arizona-Mexico Commission, the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association and the Arizona Office of Tourism collaborated with the State of Sonora on the event.

“Arizona’s ability to participate in the Cena con el Chef event is a true testimony of the relationship between our two states and it was a privilege to be able to help our neighbors in such a worthy cause,” said Margie Emmermann, executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission. “Continuing to forge the partnership between Arizona and Sonora is vital not only for economic reasons, but for the continued advancement in our region’s quality of life.”

Attendees were treated to pre-dinner cocktails and hors d-oeuvres followed by a culinary extravaganza of Arizona chef recipes. The night was closed by a raffle of many items donated by Arizona businesses and organizations.

“It was an honor to be part of this charity event,” said Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “As one of Arizona’s top international visitor markets, Mexico is one of our most valued partners. It’s through these types of community events that we can continue to build upon partnerships that promote our two regions.”

While the chefs were in Sonora, they were featured on local television programs and newspapers promoting not only the event, but also their talents and the resort properties at which they work.

“This experience has motivated me to not only support DIF, but to help bring awareness to Arizonans of the Manos A La Vida center as well as the importance of economic trade between our states through tourism and trade defusing any negative perception of the state of Sonora and the country of Mexico,” said Chef Cairns. “The efforts of all involved resulted in relationships, friendships and memories that will last a life time. Having been in this business for more than thirty years, an event like this reminds me of the foundation of hospitality: kindness in welcoming strangers. The entire team did this on both sides of the border.”

For more information, contact Chris Stoller at the Arizona-Mexico Commission at