Fire ignites new mission for restaurateur

Yves Masquefa, left, survivor Oree Freeman, and Yves’ wife Jody Masquefa raised awareness about human trafficking.

Yves Masquefa, owner of the iconic Yves’ Restaurant & Wine Bar in Anaheim Hills, is passionate about the oppression of young people wrought by human trafficking. He wanted to do something to aid victims and survivors, and so he did.

When a Jan. 7 fire forced his restaurant to shut down for repairs, Yves and his wife Jody seized upon the opportunity to enact their vision, his tongue-in-cheek Growth Plan on How to Take on the World. January being National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, they quickly orchestrated an evening of food and wine to raise awareness and introduce their budding nonprofit Kherut, Kitchens Helping Employ Rebuild Uplift & Transform.

Overnight success
His large and caring network responded, and it all fell together quickly:  San Antonio Church offered facilities for cooking and dining; Hill of Hope offered the opportunity to work under its nonprofit status until he could complete his own paperwork; contacts found a speaker; The Fish radio station provided backing. And, 11 days after the fire, supporters came to dinner to learn about Kherut. 

The kick-off dinner was designed to raise awareness and procure start-up funding for Kherut. The nonprofit will own and operate food trucks to employ victims of human trafficking.  

Survivors will learn employable skills, and have a job that will help provide an identity and the confidence to escape. In addition to food services, Kherut will need to fill marketing, management, social media, childcare, and a host of other positions.  Yves envisions a global program, but is beginning with Truck #1 here at home.

First hand knowledge
The restaurateur has two daughters of his own, and first became personally aware of the extent of human trafficking while on a mission trip to the Ukraine. 

After working at an orphanage there, he was struck by the fact that seven out of 10 of the little girls who ran up and hugged him when he left would end up in a sex trafficking ring. 

On a later trip to a culinary school he had established in Kenya, he learned that 50 percent of the women there would be embroiled in human trafficking. 

Now, thanks to a vision and a fire, Yves is helping one woman at a time.