There are many charitable food events in L.A. during the summer months, but none has such a long history and a rewarding product as CALIFORNIA SPIRIT 29. It brings together renowned chefs from many of L.A.'s best restaurants who prepare their finest culinary creations, and we see winemakers from some premier wineries in the state serving their finest reserves. Co-founders Barbara Lazaroff and Sherry Lansing tell me that the event will take place on Sunday, July 28th, at Charles Cohen's Pacific Design Center (Melrose and Robertson) beginning at 4 pm. Tickets are $350, most of which is tax-deductible, and the two women tell me that thus far it has raised some $15 million for the American Cancer Society, which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year.. The folks there told me an amazing fact: Cancer will strike one out of every three Californians during their lifetime, and three out of four families. The money goes toward funding much-needed research, education, advocacy and patients services.
It was an evening in 1985 at the Spago Hollywood parking lot when the first such event was scheduled by Chef Wolfgang Puck, his then wife Barbara, and Hollywood exec Sherry. Year by year the event blossomed as more chefs and spirit companies participated, and I can proudly say that I have never missed one yet and have no intention of missing this year's.
Bella Lantsman and husband at the Chinois-on-Main booth offering Chinese delicacies.
The first booth that I always head for is that of Chef Gino Angelini, he of Angelini Osteria and RivaBella, were I will get a corner cut of his legendary meat lasagna with its silky bechemel sauce. Then I visit Puck partner Lee Hefter to see what the Spago folks are offering up, especially some steak slices from Cut. Bella Lantsman, manager of Chinois-on-Main, will offer me a plate of their Chinese tidbits, and then I go to the Matsuihisa booth for some seaweed-wrapped sushi and sashimi. I'll stop by the Patina booth for some ravioli, and then a Mexican taco or two from Rick Bayless' Red O. Patron Tequila will be pouring margaretas and there will be many dessert options. A silent auction will draw my gaze and a bid or two, while live entertainment will delight the swelling crowd as the sun begins to set. I'll listen to the speeches honoring John Shaffner and Joe Stewart of Shaffner/Stewart Production Design, and will heartily applaud the two cancer doctors also being honored, Philomena McAndrew and Solomon Hamburg, of Cedars-Sinai. I'll buy a few raffle tickets, even at a hundred bucks apiece but only 500 will be sold, hoping to win a 2013 Ford Fusion Energi SE, a beautiful plug-in hybrid. (If you buy three, the fourth is free.) Don't laugh, a close friend of mine is driving a white Lexus he won at such an event.
For more information or tickets, call American Cancer at (310) 348-0356, option 3, or visit their website at www.calspirit.org.
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