By Kimberly Horg | Photography by Meli Czerwiak
A fifth-grade teacher noticed one of her students struggling with
reading, falling farther behind his other classmates. Unbeknownst
to Ted Balestreri II, who was blindly managing his dyslexia by
memorizing stories, the dots suddenly became connected as he
entered into a new school.
The young boy attended the first class ever taught at Chartwell
School in Seaside, one of eight students in the school designed
for children with dyslexia. Veered away from traditional teaching
models, he thrived pushing himself along the way to learn differently.
Seeing the world as a variant was an advantage that
Balestreri considers one of his biggest assets. Although
getting from point A to point B without following a
straight line was more of a challenge, it is something he
has always embraced.
“It is one of the best things to happen to me,” says
Balestreri. “I learned at an early age that there are a
million different ways to solve a problem if you think
outside the box.”
Decades ago, the school was nothing more than an old
building with great teachers, but now it serves many
throughout the community with learning disabilities.
One person under a shade tree who changes the world
is how Balestreri defines a good teacher.
The Monterey native later went on to attend a boarding
school in Santa Barbara. Frequent visits by his dad, Ted
Balestreri, Sr., to see his son’s games and track meets,
made a lasting impression for years to come. The busy
owner of Cannery Row taught his sons the importance
of family. Teaching by example, he now works alongside
his dad and his brother, Vincent, in asset management
for local hotels.
Heavily involved in community outreach, he believes
it is important to be a strong part of the community
and give back. As the immediate past chair for the
state’s California Restaurant Association Educational
Foundation, he saw firsthand how young adults benefit
from its ProStart and FIT Programs which help high
school students enter into culinary programs.
To reach out and touch those most in need is what
keeps him going strong. An inner city Los Angeles
student attending a rough gated school excelled in
ProStart, went to college against all the odds, and now
works in the culinary industry. Trips to schools such as
these are his favorite because building confidence, hope,
and boosting a child’s self esteem, similar to the teachers
who stood before him, is intensely gratifying for him.
There is no greater feeling for him than to help school
kids who are struggling and teach them life skills. A
person can’t ask for more in life than to change lives.
President of the Monterey Peninsula Sunrise Rotary Club,
he also assists with ventures including Project Helping
Hand and WAPI, which provides clean drinking water to
third world countries.
Besides his dad, his other hero is Chuck Yeager, the test
pilot who broke the sound barrier. With hopes to fly with
the greats, he just started taking flying lessons and is in
the process of getting his pilot’s license.
A love for travel stems back to his childhood, favorite
memories traveling alongside his dad seeking knowledge
and curiosity about the world around him.
“I remember when I was little he took me back to Brooklyn
to see his old neighborhood, he made the wrong turn
and we heard gun shots,” he says. “It was a bonding
Considering himself the luckiest guy in the world to
be linked to organizations that directly impact lives,
Balestreri would still like to see a shift in which people
slow down and dine versus simply eating out.
As technology changes the way individuals interact,
Balestreri believes that restaurants play a vital role in
allowing people to reconnect for a memorable evening
out. To him, restaurants are a place to rediscover
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