It is the Oscar celebration for the culinary world.
Known as the Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner, an annual tribute to the culinary arts named for the late famous American chef was presented May 1 in Costa Mesa at the incomparable AnQi by Crustacean.
Some 170 guests came together under the auspices of Master Chef Helene An and her daughter, the indefatigable Elizabeth An, to experience a once-in-a-lifetime six-course menu created by international culinary star and guest chef for the evening Daniel Rose. For those in the know, Rose, an American-born son of the great city of Chicago, is today considered the toast of Paris as owner of the wildly popular Spring Restaurant.
He opened his bistro in 2006 with a mere 16 seats following a succession of jobs working under some of the great chefs of France and finally spending what Rose refers to as a "life-changing year" in Panajachel, Guatemala, where he ran a culinary team and elevated his career skills to head chef. Today, Spring occupies a much larger space by the Louvre, and Rose has a waiting list that stretches out for some five months.
He came to Costa Mesa to cook for Orange County VIPs, including Betty and S.L. Huang, Dee and Larry Higby, Heather and Terry Dubrow, Hal and Joni Brice, Christina and Bill Lyon, and Marsha and Darrel Anderson. The AnQi dining room was transformed from its elegant Asian palette to a slightly more Parisian motif as society hostess Elizabeth An covered her tables in champagne-colored silk linens and adorned the dining room with verdant white hydrangeas and a profusion of blush colored roses.
Wait staff served Parisian "Kiss" cocktails, an elixir combining Grey Goose Cherry Noir and Champagne St. Germain. Chef Rose worked with chef de cuisine Ron Lee and Master Chef Helene An with support from donor sponsors, including Meyer Natural Foods, Santa Monica Seafood, Melissa's World Variety Produce, Bello Family Vineyards and others, to create a spectacular James Beard dinner.
PBS SoCal's 'A Lifetime of Learning'
The Orange County celebrity crowd turned out in force in support of PBS SoCal's 2013 "A Lifetime of Learning" Gala. More than 400 patrons came together April 27 in the Atlantic Aviation Hangar adjacent to the John Wayne Airport.
The evening was created in honor of Patricia Harrison, president and chief executive of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Organizers also paid tribute to the Sesame Workshop, represented by H. Melvin Ming. Special guest of the night was the popular host of television's "Antiques Roadshow," Mark L. Walberg, who joined local hosts Ed Arnold, Ann Pulice, Maria Hall-Brown, Cami Dixon and Rick Reiff mingling with the crowd.
Chaired by a gala committee led by Peggy Goldwater Clay and Ardelle St. George, the evening was made possible by generous donors, including Mary and John Tu, Marybelle and S. Paul Musco, Phil and Mary Lyons, Bette and Wylie Aitken, Jim and Kelly Mazzo, and Viki and Jim Coufos, to name only a few.
By the end of the evening, PBS SoCal reached a financial goal of approximately $600,000, which is earmarked to benefit educational programs sponsored by the station in Southern California.
The Hyatt Regency Irvine welcomed the guilds of Segerstrom Center for the Arts for a 2013 spring celebration called "Bet on the Wheels." The title simply refers to the wheels on the buses that bring the children to the educational programs held at the center and the buses that take the performers to the schools.
Party planners created a Las Vegas-style casino event with gaming galore, food stations and nonstop entertainment. Honorees of the evening were Tracy and Roger Kirwan. During Roger's remarks, the Orange County philanthropist and businessman recalled a saying he had first heard in his own high school experience: "If we are going to make the world a better place, if right is to be … it is up to me."
His comment set the tone of the evening, which included grateful appreciation expressed by Segerstrom President Terry Dwyer as well as praise for guilds Chairwoman Marilyn McCorkle and the very hardworking co-chairs of "Bet on the Wheels," Patty Lance and Bev Sandelman.
Major sponsors of the evening included Lido Isle's lovely Margaret and Tom Larkin, Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom, the evening's principal sponsors, the Kirwans and Newport's very fashionable couple Idit and Moti Ferder of Lugano Diamonds.
The evening raised $200,000 in support of center programs. To date, the guilds have raised $14.5 million in support of the center.
THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.