AJSOCAL LA Chefs Ruby Table Ambassadors
Ambassadors for Justice honoring Lisa Ling at the 2023 AJSOCAL LA Chefs Ruby Table

Cassia is committed to giving back and rebuilding the lives of our fellow Angelenos through LA Chefs for Human Rights (LACHR), a fundraising platform founded by co-owners Kim Luu-Ng and Chef Bryant Ng to benefit and increase awareness of local human rights causes.

Cassia Co-Owners and LACHR Founders Bryant Ng and Kim Luu-Ng
Cassia Co-Owners & LACHR Founders Bryant Ng & Kim Luu-Ng

Since 2016, LA Chefs for Human Rights has raised over $1,070,000 by uniting some of the city’s most celebrated chefs, bakers, entertainers and human rights advocates through a series of in-person and virtual galas and events. 100% of the funds have gone towards local non-profits, which include Program for Torture Victims to support medical care and legal services for refugees seeking asylum, and The People Concern to feed and provide homeless individuals and families with temporary and permanent housing. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Cassia and the Rustic Canyon Family also donated hundreds of meals to The People Concern’s three interim housing sites in Santa Monica.

With the rise in violence and hate directed towards the Asian community since the COVID-19 pandemic, LACHR partnered in 2023 with Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California—the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for AAPI.  Funds raised during the LA Chefs Ruby Table event on April 24 benefited AJSOCAL’s mission of protecting and strengthening the rights and dignity of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, especially those that are most disadvantaged.

Attendees of LA Chefs for Human Rights Dinner at Cassia
From left, Evan Williams, Sharon Lawrence, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Angela Bassett pose for a photo at LA Chefs for Human Rights at Cassia in Santa Monica, Calif. on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for Cassia/AP Images)

The inaugural 2016 gala raised over $100,000 for Program For Torture Victims (PTV) and featured an incredible 8-course dinner by Bryant, Nancy Silverton, Niki Nakayama, Carole Iida-Nakayama, Ray Garcia and Zoe Nathan, and moving speeches by dissident blogger, human rights activist & 2013 International Women of Courage Award-winner Ta Phong Tâ`n and USC English Professor/Chair & Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Viet Than Nguyen.

Bryant Ng, Niki Nakayama, Ray Garcia, Nancy Silverton, Liz Hong, and Zoe Nathan
Chefs Bryant Ng, Niki Nakayama, Ray Garcia, Nancy Silverton, Liz Hong, and Zoe Nathan at our 2016 LA Chefs for Human Rights dinner
Dr. Viet Thanh Nguyen speaking at the 2016 LA Chefs For Human Rights Gala
Author Dr. Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks during the 2016 LA Chefs for Human Rights Gala

In 2017, we partnered with PTV again and raised about $140,000 with Jeremy Fox, Jessica Koslow, Walter Manzke, Zoe Nathan and Bryant preparing a beautiful dinner. Chris Cornell was honored with a posthumous Human Rights Hero Award for his philanthropic and humanitarian efforts, and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky was the evening’s Honorary Guest Speaker.

Watch the video from our 2017 LACHR charity benefit online via YouTube.

Martin Sheen and Kim Luu-Ng at the 2018 LA Chefs for Human Rights Gala
Martin Sheen accepts the Human Rights Hero Award from LACHR Co-Founder Kim Luu-Ng in 2018
Shelby Rabara and Harry Shum Jr at a table during the 2018 LA Chefs for Human Rights Gala
Shelby Rabara & Harry Shum Jr. at the 2018 LA Chefs for Human Rights Gala

In 2018, we began our partnership with The People Concern and that year’s gala generated $192,000 in donations. Guest chefs included the return of Niki, Carole and Zoe, alongside Steve Samson and Carlos Salgado, with the Human Rights Hero Award given to actor and activist Martin Sheen for his continued philanthropic work to help end the plight of homeless individuals, which you can watch a video of online. Cassia also partnered with Mendocino Farms in March 2018 to create a charity sandwich, with 100% of the profits going towards The People Concern.

Cassia and Mendocino Farms Staff
Cassia & Mendocino Farms staff feeding the homeless at The People Concern’s Samoshel

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we went virtual for a “Dear Neighbor” event with The People Concern. That celebration gathered a variety of talented chefs, such as Martin Yan, Roy Choi, Nyesha Arrington, Ori Menashe & Genevieve Gergis and Niki Nakayama & Carole Iida-Nakayama, along with actors Martin Sheen, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Harry Shum Jr. and more, to deliver messages of hope, raising $234,976.

2021’s virtual fundraiser—”Tonight! With The People Concern and LACHR”—was hosted by Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch, and featured special guests like Martin Sheen, Roy Choi, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Ben Vereen. The evening broke a LACHR fundraising record, bringing in just over $336,000 for The People Concern!

Chefs Jenee Kim, Shirley Chung, Bryant Ng, Carole-Iida Nakayama, Niki Nakayama and Bugra Arkin attending the 2023 AJSOCAL LA Chefs Ruby Table
Award-winning journalist, television host and producer, Lisa Ling, receiving an award from LACHR Co-Founder Kim Luu-Ng
Director and producer, Daniel Wu, speaking at the 2023 AJSOCAL LA Chefs Ruby Table

2023’s AJSOCAL LA Chefs Ruby Table brought together acclaimed AAPI chefs, community leaders and talent from the entertainment and literary worlds to benefit AJSOCAL’s mission of protecting and strengthening the rights and dignity of AAPI communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged. The evening was dedicated to social justice and honored award-winning journalist, television host and producer Lisa Ling and acclaimed actor, director and producer Daniel Wu for their heroism and activism. Bryant cooked alongside some of the city’s top AAPI chefs, which included Shirley Chung, Bugra Arkin, Jenee Kim and longtime LACHR advocates Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama. Emmy Award-winning Jeanne Mai Jenkins provided her spirit and humor as the emcee, and The Filharmonic, the all-Filipino a cappella group, prompted singing and dancing amongst the lively crowd. Ambassadors for Justice included actors Rosalind Chao, Yoson An and Dawn-Lyen Gardner, philanthropist Krista Kleiner, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Bao Nguyễn, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen and the hero who disarmed the gunman at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, Brandon Tsay.