I attended a preview party this morning for a birthday cake. Not just any cake, but an extraordinary larger-than-life one which will feed 15,000 people celebrating the 100th anniversary of the city of Beverly Hills at a block party on Sunday, April 27. Rodeo Drive, The Walk of Style, is the main shopping street of this iconic city, a three-block internationally-recognized shopping-entertainment spectacular. It is a unique destination for both Southern California residents and visitors here from around the globe. There are more than 100 distinguished retailers, and one hotel on that street...the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel. It is this hotel which has joined with Guittard Chocolate to create the most amazing cake any of us will ever see. And their world-famous corporate executive pastry chef, Donald Wressel, who will create this tasty treat was there to show me a model of the cake...and give me a sample taste of it. I have been writing about Donald for many years, since he was the award-winning pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel, and have followed his career with admiration and samplings. He has created many spectacular cakes for the World Food Olympics and other such events, but I think he will exceeded all of his achievements with this pastry monstrosity.
The Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel in Beverly Hills. Photo from hotel.
Pastry Chef Donald Wressel unveils a model of the anniversary cake. Photos by Jay.
Modeled on the Beverly Hill City Hall tower and its surroundings, the cake will stand a staggering 10- feet high, be 15 feet wide, 20 feet long....and will weigh approximately 4000 pounds! He baked a sample of the chocolate interior for the assembled press and hotel guests to taste, and it was as luscious a dark chocolate as a chocoholic like me could imagine. (He whispered to me that it was also kosher, which made no impression on me.) He did tell me that it will serve 15,000 slices to the assembled visitors. I asked him where he was preparing the monster cake and he told me it was going to be prepared at his Culver City commissary with a raft of fellow chefs, and will be brought in parts to the site in front of the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel. It will be surrounded by spun sugar flowers and chocolate building structures. I facetiously asked him if it was gluten-free, but the attempted joke fell flat. I then went to the banquet table where the hotel's talented Chef de Cuisine, David Padilla, had prepared a breakfast spread for the hungry press. A slice of Spanish egg frittata and a bagel with lox and cream cheese settled my stomach, as I discussed the cake with the hotel's g.m, Marcus Mueller, whose wife, Sally Camacho Mueller, is a fine pastry chef at the Jonathan Club, and he told me that Donald had been her mentor.
Hotel owner Efram Harkham and Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse. Photos by Jay.
I had a chance to interview the Founder/Chairman of the hotel, Efrem Harkham, and asked him why he was doing this, and he looked askance at me. "We are thrilled to be working with the Rodeo Drive Committee to honor the city of Beverly Hills on this important day in its history." Then he told me about all of the events on Sunday, the 27th, starting at 3:30 pm and running 'til 8 pm (or longer, I suspect). "There will be live music courtesy of a 20-piece dance band on the Main Stage at Rodeo and Brighton. Some of the city's top restaurants will be serving a Taste of Beverly Hills food presented by American Express." Then the enthusiastic hotelier told me a hot bit of news: There will be two four-story Ferris Wheels on the 200 block of Rodeo." I told him that my religion prohibits me from riding Ferris wheels. He laughed and said that I might enjoy the Carnival Games on the 400 block of Rodeo. At 5:45 pm, Motown and R&B legend Martha Reeves will perform her hit, 'Dancin' In The Street'. At 6:00 pm the cake will be served. At 7:45 pm there will be Fireworks over Rodeo Drive celebrating the city's independence.
Beverly Hills' new Mayor, Lili Bosse, cuts the sample cake...luscious dark chocolate. Photos by Jay.
Hotel chef David Padilla served us a splendid breakfast. Photos by Jay.
There is a small charge of $3 to $5 each for the tastes, rides and games. A portion of the proceeds from Taste of Beverly Hills will benefit the community's charitable foundation. Some of the local restaurants participating are: Spago, Mr Chow, CUT, Polo Lounge, THE BLVD, M Café, Montage, The Grill on the Alley, Sprinkles, Via Alloro, BH90H20 and more. The birthday cake will be complimentary, and the beautiful new Mayor of Beverly Hills, Lili Bosse, said to me: "On that day 15,000 people can truly have their cake and eat it too, as we celebrate our Centennial and Beverly Hills Independence Day. Recently the City Council voted to recognize April 24th as our day of independence, in recognition of that day in 1923 when residents voted against annexation to the city of Los Angeles." She told me that the "Beverly Hills Centennial Cookbook" features signature dishes from 39 of its acclaimed restaurants. "This will be a day to remember for the next 100 years." I sure am glad I live in a city that can celebrate its birthday with such éclat.
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