The Crowd: Fun was had while dealing with serious subject

August 29, 2013|By B.W. Cook
  • Lana Sills and her daughter, Chef Jamie Gwen.
Lana Sills and her daughter, Chef Jamie Gwen. (Michael Haight )

The stunning blond chef Jamie Gwen stepped up to the microphone to address the several hundred guests who had gathered at the Fairmont Newport Beach for the 10th anniversary of the American Liver Foundation's Flavors of Orange County culinary gala.

Gwen, attired in a chic summer white fit and flair cocktail dress accented with dramatically pointed-toe shimmering gold pumps, wowed the crowd with her exquisite gold jewelry creations from the Paloma Picasso collection at Tiffany & Co. The elegant emcee of the evening cut away from the seriousness of the cause with her opening remarks. "I am reminded of what Miss Piggy says about food," said Gwen. "Never eat more than you can lift."

And let me tell you, no one in the Liver Foundation audience could possibly have lifted the amount of incredibly creative food that was about to be presented. It was arguably the most lavish and astonishingly gourmet presentation for a charity event on the Orange Coast.


The setting at the Fairmont, an al fresco walled garden with handsome stone fountains, lush tropical plantings and strands of white lights overhead, added to the spectacular drama of the culinary presentations that were to come.

The dining production is complex. Guest chefs from outstanding Southern California bistros are invited to create a spectacular meal for a table of patrons attending the Liver Foundation benefit.

What this means is that no two settings are alike, and different meals are served at each table. The participating chefs bring in everything. And that means everything, including the tables, chairs, décor, adornments, flatware, crystal, linens and candles of choice, as well as the cooking accoutrements needed to prepare the meal right in front of the table of patrons being served.

The list of culinary participants is impressive. Led by host chef of the evening Brian Doherty of the Fairmont Newport Beach, the lineup included Casey Overton of the Montage Laguna Beach, Tim Cast of Seasons 52, Seakyeong Kim of Charlie Palmer, Chicken Wang of Chapter One, Alfred Prasad of Tamarind of London, Franco Barone of ll Barone, Justin Miller of Pizzeria Ortica, Mark Fitkowski of Paul Martin's, Edgar Agbayani of Roy's, Cody Storts of Hopscotch, and Michael Vaughn of La Quinta Resort.

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