By Alesandra Dubin Posted May 5, 2010, 2:12 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES U.C.L.A.’s Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation hosted its 15th annual fund-raiser, known as Taste for a Cure, at the Beverly Wilshire, overseen by the foundation's director of special events, Penny Amescua. But this was not the sort of tasting event where guests leave hungry and head straight to dinner. This year's benefit carried out the event's tradition of plentiful high-end food and wine tastings by focusing on the chefs and restaurants of downtown Los Angeles and the wines of Napa's Stags Leap district, which is known for its cabernet sauvignon.
Each of 15 participating wineries from the region poured a cabernet from the 2006 Appellation Collection, set to release in October. Long-time event supporters Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel, and Dolce served as honorary wine partners. Participating restaurants that exemplified downtown's burgeoning food scene included Bottega Louie, Church & State, Lazy Ox Canteen, Patina, and Rivera.
After the night's first segment, a meandering tasting at various stations throughout the ballroom, guests took their seats, where plated charcuterie, dessert trays, and bottles of wine on their tables kept them going through the program.
This year’s event honored Comcast Entertainment Group president and C.E.O. Ted Harbert with the Gil Nickel Humanitarian Award. When receiving the honor from presenter and honorary co-chair Ryan Seacrest, Harbert led with a spoiler for the DVR crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, it was the Lakers by one at the last second.” After the speeches wrapped, Lifehouse’s Jason Wade and Rick Woolstenhulme gave an acoustic performance to wrap up the night.
Thanks in part to a live auction with help from celebrity auctioneer Kevin Pollak, the gala raised more than $475,000 for the foundation.