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The tenacious Vicky Cornell, overwhelmed with emotion, accepted the L.A. Chefs for Human Rights Hero Award on behalf of her late husband, the celebrated singer-songwriter Chris Cornell. Chris Cornell was honored at a fundraising event for Program for Torture Survivors at the award-winning restaurant Cassia for his humanitarian efforts and his original song and music video “The Promise.”
“My husband loved to help people, especially children. He believed it was up to adults to never turn our backs on the most vulnerable and innocent members of our society,” said Vicky on the verge of tears.
The moving video presented after Vicky’s acceptance of the Hero Award drew parallels between the Armenian genocide and the migrant crisis occurring in Syria and Africa, displaying images of the destruction and desolation of the countries affected juxtaposed by hundreds of refugees fleeing by van, boat and on foot. The belated singer’s impassioned voice added another dimension to the already raw and somber video, giving those in attendance “a glimpse of the violence and horrors that these current refugees face.” Chris wrote the eponymous song for the film The Promise, a historical drama about the Armenian genocide, and produced a music video with director Meiert Avis.
“He helped with children and young people who were homeless or abused, suffered from illness or struggled with addictions, were victims of war and strife. His heart was always so full of love, compassion and hope.”
“I hope it makes people feel connected to people coming from Africa and Syria and understand that they have mothers and fathers and daughters and brothers just the same as every other person,” said Avis who worked with Chris on “The Promise” music video and a number of projects for Soundgarden and Audioslave.
Although Vicky’s speech and the presentation of “The Promise” served as the emotional high of the night, the entire evening was sprinkled with a solemn tone. Torture survivors shared their stories of the struggles in their home countries and their journey to healing and recovery with the help of PTV. Director of HBO’s Cries for Syria Evgeny Afineevsky urged the crowd to support PTV and organizations like it that support refugees and people fighting for freedom of speech. Meanwhile, co-owner of Cassia and longtime human rights lawyer Kim Luu-Ng revealed that the reason for her passion for the cause was because she, too, was a refugee.
“History is repeating itself. My family fled Vietnam by boat…. Even though we were seen as lesser than human beings, my parents fought tooth and nail to survive and thrive in the United States and I am evidence of that,” said Luu-Ng, wiping tears from her eyes.
“Tonight, I ask each and every one of you to stand with me and our torture victims to support our refugees,” she urged. Given President Donald Trump’s new travel restrictions announced just two days ago, the cause for the fundraiser was particularly relevant, adding a sense of urgency to the pleas for support.
The intimate atmosphere of the dinner party filled with candle-lit dinner tables and Southeast Asia-inspired specialty cocktails and cuisine served family-style included an eight-course meal masterfully cooked by acclaimed chefs Jeremy Fox and Zoe Nathan of Rustic Canyon, Jessica Koslow of Sqirl, Walter and Margarita Manzke of Republique, and Bryant Ng of Cassia.
Nearly every seat at the dinner party was filled, the guests eager to enjoy an evening with the best of L.A.’s culinary geniuses in one kitchen and to support a worthy cause. “You know, we’re all artists. I’m an artist in the field of the moviemaking, they are artists in the culinary field. I think it’s really important that artists can change hearts, can unite, and can give something to human rights” said Afineevsky of the exquisite dinner party. “I think altogether we can bring change to this world.”
This year’s L.A. Chefs for Human Rights event raised about $140,000, with all of the proceeds going directly to PVT.
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