By Irene Lacher Posted June 26, 2008, 11:28 AM EDT
Los Angeles offers charity-minded foodies a banquet of opportunities to eat, drink, and be generous, but the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation's annual Taste for a Cure benefit boasts a rare ingredient—the longtime participation of co-chair Barbara Fairchild, editor in chief of Bon Appétit. For 11 of the event's 13 years, Fairchild has curated the evening's edible offerings. Instead of the vast array of samples from multiple restaurants typical of most food and wine events, Taste for a Cure serves up a sharply edited selection of dishes and wines by prepared by trend-setting chefs and vintners who have earned Fairchild's imprimatur.
So the hot celebrities attending June 21's Taste for a Cure at the Beverly Wilshire hotel didn't include the usual crowd from The Hills, but rather superstar chef Joachim Splichal of Patina restaurant group, whose personal appearance behind the serving table at the reception was a testament to the event's importance in restaurant circles. The reception spotlighted L.A.'s “star” steak houses, as they were described on the menu, with Splichal of Nick & Stef's handing out Asian short ribs, Lee Hefter and Ari Rosenson of Wolfgang Puck's Cut distributing Kobe sliders and tuna tartare sandwiches on togarishi crisps, and Paul Villa and Nick Koslo of BOA Steakhouse giving out mini Kobe beef corn dogs and other treats. Pouring beside them were Philippa Jones of Beaulieu Vineyards, Jim Cleninden of Au Bon Climat, Beth Nickel of Nickel & Nickel, and Maja Guldener of Terrabianca Winery.
The dinner's theme was “A Special Evening at the Supper Club,” so Penny Amescua, the foundation's director of special events, went with a spare, black-and-white palette. Decorating the reception food-and-wine stations and serving as table centerpieces were Julian Designs' large glass vases filled with water and white flowers—orchids or upside-down calla lilies—topped with black lampshades covering dim, battery-powered lights. The hotel's former executive chef, Conny Andersson, returned to oversee the meal of prime rib loin and herb-roasted rib cap, which surpassed the usual event fare.
Jimmy Kimmel served as M.C. for the Scott Mauro Entertainment-produced award show, which honored Kevin Reilly, Fox Broadcasting Company's president of entertainment. Capping the evening was a performance by this year's American Idol winner, David Cook. Nearly 500 guests attended the event, which raised $740,000 for cancer research.