Yesterday (September 10, 2016) I enjoyed an afternoon of food, wine, cocktails and music during a fundraiser for the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation. This year the venue was at UCLA between the majestic Royce Hall and Powell Library. It was an ideal spot for James Beard winner and Executive chef Suzanne Goin to host the benefit with her culinary partner Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOC, Tavern) and chef David Lentz (The Hungry Cat). All the chefs who participated (over 40 of them) graciously donated their time, food and talent to the cause for this event.
Here are 15 of my favorite experiences while attending this annual fundraiser to help fight pediatric cancers:
Giada had kids help her cook her unique bite sized burrata topped with a kale. Brian Voltaggio plopped vaporizing nitrogen ice into his mouth to have smoke appear from his semi-closed lips. This made the kids laugh. He also handed out cups of compressed watermelon cubes to a few cuties.
Another touching moment was when esteemed chef Aaron Sanchez from New York came to support the event and shared a tender moment with a sweet little girl. He asked her to help he serve his small plates. As I took one from her, I snapped this photo of the both of them hamming it up. Man his Cobia Tiradito with Creole tomato and crispy hominy was delicious.
5. Guests congregated in the wine tent to experience wine tasting from over 50 vintners. Some of vintners included Amitié Wines -Black Sheep Finds – Chambers & Chambers Wine Merchants – Emanuel Tres Wines – Grandes Places Sélections – Gregory Condes Wines – Habit Wine Company – Hitching Post Wines – Hoxie Spritzer – Hudson Wine Brokers – Indigenous Selections -Jardesca – Jelly Roll Wines – Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant – Kimberly Jones Selections – La Fenêtre – Lang & Reed Wine Company – Langdon Shiverick Imports – Martian Ranch and Vineyard – Melville Winery – Next Generation Wine Co. – Red Car Winery – Return to Terroir -Silverlake Wine – Storm Wines – Strange Family Vineyards – Tercero Wines – The Rare Wine Co. – The Wine House – Tyler Winery – Veritas Imports – Wenzlau Vineyard – Whitcraft Winery – WINC.
6. Guests who visited Clover Chadwick, Los Angeles at the Dandelion Ranch Farmers Market Flowers received a live flower boutonnière as a floral decoration. I saw these flowers worn in women’s hair or attached to a ribbon as a bracelet. Nice touch!
7. For a sweet treat Eva Ein from Santa Barbara based McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (now also at the Grand Central Market, Studio City and your local grocery stores) drove the ice cream truck to the event. She and her team offered McC’s Tea Set ice cream – Earl Grey Tea & Butter – Biscuits Ice Cream – Chamomile Tea & Oatmeal Cookies Ice Cream – Chamomile & Bergamot infused whipped cream that was served with a shortbread cookie. YUM!
8. A fun chef exchange was two esteemed Los Angeles based chefs – Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections chatting with Bruce Kalman of Union Pasadena and Knead & Co Pasta Bar + Market. They were having a great time.
9. Los Angelenos chef Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station and Neal Fraser of Redbird, BLD, ICDC, Fritzi Dog shared a booth together.
10. One of my favorite dishes was by Executive Chef Maria Hines from Seattle, WA. Her restaurants include Tilth, Golden Beetle, Agrodolce. She made a cauliflower salad with Sultanas, Tahini and Cilantro that was fabulous.
11. Timothy Hollingsworth of Los Angeles’ restaurants Otium, Barrel & Ashes made a delicious bite sized burrata tart with tomato, basil, curry and onions. WOW! Amazing flavor profile.
12. Chef Jenn Louis of Portland, OR restaurants Sunshine Tavern and Lincoln Restaurant grilled dates stuffed with a marcona almond and sprinkled lime juice and sea salt on top. They were heavenly.
13. Pairing a craft cocktail with one of the Border Grill tacos was quite a treat. Mixologists included Marcos Tello of El Silencio – Beau du Bois of Corner Door – Darwin Manahan from Cliff’s Edge – Eric Alperin & Max Seaman from The Varnish – Christiaan Röllich of Lucques, a.o.c., and Tavern and Neal Bodenheimer from Cure.
14. There was always a line for the classic Pink’s Hot Dogs.
15. I learned that Alex’s Lemonade Stand raised over $1 million dollars at the event. This money goes to the awareness about childhood cancer, with an emphasis on research into new treatments and cures. The organization also empowers individuals – especially children – to get involved and make a difference in the lives of children with cancer. I’m looking forward to next years event.
To follow Alex’s Lemonade, go to – http://www.alexslemonade.org.