Elaine Bell is the Sonoma Community Center’s 2022 muse

A week ago, Elaine Bell called to talk about the adorable feral cats in her barn and how excited she was to be able to feed those in need.

She had discovered that Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) – needed to find a way to feed 30 weekend homeless residents for whom SOS found hotel rooms in the cold of this winter. SOS serves two meals a day from Monday to Friday.

Within hours, Bell gathered free meat from its top supplier and produce from another supplier and made a commitment to SOS chief executive Kathy King to feed those 30 people every weekend in February. . And Bell was happy to pay her own kitchen staff to prepare the food. At that time, only Kathy King, Elaine Bell, the SOS leaders and I were aware of this commitment.

That same week, Bell and I learned from Charlotte Hajer, Executive Director of the Sonoma Community Center, that Elaine had been chosen as the Community Center’s 2022 muse.

And how appropriate.

According to Hajer, “Each year, the center celebrates an individual who embodies its mission to cultivate a vibrant community through extraordinary creative, cultural and learning experiences. A muse is someone who, through example and service, inspires us all to do and be our best.

“We couldn’t imagine a better person to honor in 2022 than Elaine Bell, and we’re thrilled she was accepted. Elaine embodies everything that makes the Sonoma Valley so special: a deep generosity, a passion for creating unforgettable food and wine experiences and a creative side in everything she does. For 40 years, she and her incredible food have been at the heart of the best events in the valley, and she has helped raise millions for local non-profit organizations.

This year, Elaine Bell celebrates 40 years in the restaurant business while the community center celebrates 70 years since its formation from what had been Sonoma Grammar School.

Bell’s first restoration job required her to pick up her household stove in Sonoma and transport it to the vineyards of Beaulieu Vineyards in Rutherford to cook lunch. She opened her first professional kitchen on West Spain Street where Papa Murphy’s Pizza is now located.

Before COVID, she was throwing five or six huge Silicon Valley holiday parties a night and numerous weddings all over the Bay Area.

Elaine Bell has generously cooked excellent dinners for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma, La Luz and Sonoma Community Center fundraisers for less than her cost just to help out, and often personally bid on items at auction for donate back.

And yes, Elaine Bell will be hosting the Muse event on Saturday August 12, now dubbed “aMUSE Bouche”.

In a text to the Sonoma Index-Tribune, Bell said, “I am beyond honored to be chosen as Muse for 2022. Thank you all so much.”

Details to come. For more information, keep an eye on the Sonoma Community Center website.

(Two whistleblowers: I am a member of the SOS Board of Directors and past Chairman of the Sonoma Community Center Board of Directors and have listed the building on the National Register of Historic Places.)

Jill E. Washington