Actor Kal Penn came out on top in MasterChef Celebrity Showdown, winning money for his charity to benefit Palestinian refugees.


Penn beat out Curb Your Enthusiasm actress Cheryl Hines to win the $25,000 toward his charity, which was the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Penn cooked beer-braised fish tacos to take home the win.

“Only in America can a guy make tacos on FOX TV, almost lose an eye, and win $25,000 to support refugees,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “We are so fortunate as Americans to live in a country as prosperous as ours.”

Penn previously worked as an associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Barack Obama. “Much of our own media attention is focused away from the human stories of children and families who are suffering due to displacement against the rule of international law, terrorism, and violence from so many sides,” Penn described. “So having the chance to cook to benefit refugee families on MasterChef seemed like the right thing to do.”

“[Penn’s] win will help us provide life-changing services to many Palestinian refugee families in need,” said Abby Smardon, executive director of UNRWA USA. “But perhaps the most critical impact of his appearance on Fox is that Kal was able to bring the issue of Palestinian refugees to primetime U.S. television — sharing his concern for a people who have been struggling for decades to survive and thrive.”

Read more about: