For the past few summers, event manager Joan Wrede has been gathering Los Angeles chefs for “An Evening on the Beach.” The toques bring their barbecue grills right on the sand at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica. The evening finished around a huge bonfire where the attendees roasted marshmallows which no less than pastry chef Sherry Yard of Spago combined with graham crackers and chocolate to make s’mores.
On Saturday, July 9th, over 4,000 people partied on the backlot of Paramount Studios in Los Angeles at the 37th Annual Block Party of the Concern Foundation. The event was so successful that it was packed like the Paris métro at 6 p.m. A record was broken with the amount of money raised that evening with the ticket sales, plus the live and silent auctions: a million and half dollars. Among the lots sold was dinner with me while I review a restaurant!
Because of the crowds, I couldn’t get to most of the 80 restaurants that participated, along with pastry shops, wineries, and bars. To see some of the participants, look at the photos in the gallery below. One of the most memorable displays was put on by Savore Catering, which cooked more than 1,000 eggs for 58 minutes in a 147-degree-Fahrenheit water bath to prepare their “farm egg on baked heirloom beans with béarnaise” to the hungry hordes.
Last Saturday was the third time I attended Vintage Hollywood’s Annual Wine & Food Tasting Event. It’s always a special night, in that the fundraiser is held on the grounds of a Los Angeles mansion.
As the two hundred guests were arriving at the sold-out evening, the sun was setting through the branches of gorgeous trees, adding elegance to the ambience at the Westside LA location. I was excited by the diversity of the tasting bites and wines offered by the restaurants and vintners. From the oysters of Oyster Gourmet and Blue Plate Oysterette to the caramel fleur de sel toffee of Valerie Confections via the Mediterranean sandwich of Tavern, the panini of Bar Toscana, the steak tartare of Bouchon, the foie gras chicken liver mousse of Waterloo & City (that everybody was raving about, including me), the braised pork leg from Jar, the scallops and rabbit rillettes of On Sunset, the burrata from Mozza, the grilled cheese sandwich from The Foundry on Melrose, the tuna wonton tacos of Zengo, the La Quierca proscuito from Akasha and the shrimp ceviche from La Sandia, I had quite enough for the evening (though I was able to sneak into my stomach a banana foster from Florentino Ice Cream). Apologies to Whist restaurant at the Viceroy and Simple Things Sandwich & Pie Shop, but I simply had no more room, even for a coffee from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Every year, the event benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The money raised, $23,000,000 over 22 years, including $1,667,500 this year, is used for vital research and care centers. Thanks to the new treatments, people with cystic fibrosis are now living one year longer for every year of research. When this event began, patients were living into their teenage years. Now, the median age is approaching 40.
UPDATE 5/01/11 : The winner is Chad Colby (Osteria Mozza). See photos from the event below.
This Sunday, May 1, five top LA chefs will each prepare a 175-pound, heritage-breed hog from head to toe for a friendly competition called Cochon 555. This ten-city touring event is the only culinary competition of its kind in the country, and will help family farms sustain and expand their businesses. Competing in the LA stop will be Octavio Becerra (Palate Food + Wine), Chad Colby (Osteria Mozza), Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station), Tim Goodell (Public Kitchen & Bar) and Joshua Whigham (The Bazaar). To support the event and its worthy cause, I will be there with other local judges to determine a winner based on presentation, utilization and overall best flavor.