The California eatery, patronised by stars including former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, opera star Andrea Bocelli and Gwen Stefani, was severely damaged in a blaze on Saturday (04Feb17).

Serato, who was honoured by bosses at U.S. news network CNN for his charity work feeding underprivileged children in 2011, was left devastated by the destruction of his beloved restaurant.

The Italian-born businessman's famous friends were on hand to provide comfort, including Loren and Italian soccer legend Roberto Baggio.

"She represents Italy to me," the chef said of the 82-year-old acting legend, revealing to the Orange County Register that Loren had told him on the phone, "I want to give you a big hug because you give so much love."

A page has been set up to help Serato raise cash to rebuild the Anaheim White House, and he hopes it will reach a target of $750,000 (£600,000), with $60,000 (£48,000) having been raised at the time of going to press.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the rebuild could cost as much as $1.5 million (£1.2 million) in total.

60 firefighters battled the blaze on Saturday as it raged through the building, with Serato saying investigators had told him the fire started in a second floor dining room.

"While there is no indication the fire was intentionally set, cause cannot be determined until results of laboratory testing of various electrical components is conducted," a Anaheim Police Department spokesman Daron Wyatt told the Orange County Register.

Owners of other local restaurants and venues are allowing Serato to use their kitchens to continue his charity work cooking for underprivileged kids.