Carmel Valley resident among nine to be honored for philanthropy


Nine outstanding community leaders, including Carmel Valley resident Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, have been chosen as honorees at the upcoming National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon.

The event, presented by Sharp HealthCare, will take place Oct. 28 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. National Philanthropy Day is in its 42nd year and is organized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, San Diego Chapter (AFPSD). This year’s theme is “Celebrating Philanthropy: Gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure.” Committed to celebrating the rich diversity in the region, National Philanthropy Day recognizes the critical role philanthropy plays in our community and honors those who do it best.

Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien has been named Outstanding Celebrity Philanthropist. As a committed supporter of Mama’s Kitchen, Zien has helped build its annual event, Mama’s Day, into an extraordinary culinary evening and one of San Diego’s premier philanthropic events. Since 2009, he has participated in countless promotions through television, radio, print, and online media to reach his massive audience of “foodies” to help increase ticket sales and raise the visibility of Mama’s Kitchen and its signature events.

Zien has also been a steadfast supporter of Noah Homes, a nonprofit that provides independent living to adults with developmental disabilities. For the past six years, he has dedicated time by putting on shows to benefit Noah Homes residents, serving as auctioneer for their golf tournament, and most recently acting as master of ceremonies for their 30th anniversary celebration.

Zien is a winner of 14 Emmy Awards for his show “Sam The Cooking Guy,” has been a frequent guest on the “Today” show, is the host of “The Sam Livecast” with more than 450 online episodes, and has published three cookbooks.

“More than 100 nominations were submitted this year for review by the National Philanthropy Honorary Committee, which comprises a diverse group of community leaders, including past honorees with a demonstrated commitment to philanthropy,” says Linda Katz of Del Mar, the event’s honorary committee chairwoman.

The other honorees are:

Outstanding Philanthropists: Ernest and Evelyn Rady

Outstanding Development/Fundraising Volunteer: Lori M. Walton

Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation: Cymer, LLC

Outstanding Philanthropic Organization: Barney & Barney Foundation

Outstanding Organizational Volunteer: Dr. Elizabeth Jones

Outstanding Development Professional: Kristin Bertell, M.A., CFRE

Outstanding Youth Volunteers: Daisy Aguilar and Rosa Olascoaga

The event takes place from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, 1 Park Boulevard, San Diego. Tickets are $85 (includes parking). Visit