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Wine, Women and Shoes... Make for a Wonderful Charity Benefit

Last night I attended a charity event which was so pleasant that I was sorry when it ended. It was the inaugural benefit for the Children's Action Network and the Westside Children's Center, both great causes.
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I attend many, many charitable events each year... often several a month. Most are long and boring, and I seek to get in, do my reporting stuff, and then get out quietly and as soon as possible. But last night I attended a charity event which was so pleasant that I was sorry when it ended. It was the inaugural benefit for the Children's Action Network and the Westside Children's Center, both great causes which I will elaborate on shortly. But honestly, what made it entertaining for me was... women. Lots of women. Three hundred of them, who each paid $150 for a ticket to attend the eat, drink and shop event held in the backyard of a sumptuous house in Santa Monica. It happened to be the home of an old friend and former lawyer of mine, Skip Brittenham, and his lovely actress wife Heather Thomas. P.R. whiz Katy Sweet had alerted me to it, and since it was a rare free evening for me, I decided to attend.

The view was spectacular in the Brittenham backyard.

Host Skip Brittenham and 9021PHO Chef Kimmy Tang

Lots of wine-savvy, shoe-loving women kicked up their heels and sipped some fine wines and nibbled on savory bites from some top L.A. chefs... and shopped for the latest shoes and accessories from a dozen or so fashion pioneers. I saw magnificent Judith Lieber bags, Prada, Miu, Valentino, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo shoes, even some Yves Saint Laurent garb. Naturally I headed for the food stations, and enthusiastically greeted my dear Vietnamese chef friend, Kimmy Tang, who has expanded her PHO empire from Beverly Hills to Westlake Village. As I sipped on a bowl of chicken pho with rice noodles, I proudly displayed the 100-year-old sacred jade Buddha worn around my neck which she had given me eight years ago, after I helped get her a liquor license for her restaurant. She told me never to take it off and it would bring me good luck, and she was so right... I never take it off and have been incredibly lucky in recent years. I finished a grilled ham and cheese sandwich offered by veteran Chef Celestino Drago and discussed his move into new territory, while he told me of adding many menu items from his recently-closed flagship, Drago, into his Beverly Hills outpost, Enoteca Drago. Discussed the origins of the legendary GiGi Salad being served with Cedric Castro, the manager of Bruce Bozzi's The Palm. Nibbled on sweet cakes from my favorite bakery, Bouchon Bakery, while chatting with Lisa Lopez. Skipped most of the wines but sipped a large class of Pom Wonderful, that crispy, healthy beverage from the Resnick empire. Favorite snack was the luscious lobster morsel served up by the lovely Dakota Weiss, the brilliant chef at the 930 Restaurant at the W Westwood Hotel. Made a date to go there shortly for a review.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Examining the jewelry that was on sale.

TV Mogul Michael King and wife Jena made a generous contribution to the event.

Chef Dakota Weiss from W Hotel Westwood served scrumptious lobster custard cups.

... and The Palm had juicy steaka slices and famous GiGi Salad.

Had a fun reunion with legendary TV syndication giant, Michael King, and his beautiful wife Jena; we talked politics and decried the current crop of Republican pygmies. Greeted Barbara Davis, widow of the famed movie magnate Marvin D. and mother of Dana Davis, who displayed her designer shoes at a stand. The co-chair of the event, Carla Du Manoir, gave me a statement for my Huffington Post blog: "We are thrilled to bring this event to L.A .to raise much-needed funds for two incredible organizations helping our underserved youth." The other co-char, Stacey Lynn Kohl, then sat me down to tell about the need to provide crucial support for life-changing programs helping at-risk children in our community. I had known about the Children's Action Network, which use the power of the entertainment community of which I am part to increase awarenness about children's issues. Right now they are concerned with finding homes for more than 107,000 children in foster care in the U.S. who are waiting be adopted, part of the 400,000 kids in foster care. The Westside Children's Center is specific to our West L.A. community, also helping vunerable children and families. Two spectacularly important organizations which I am pledging to help a bit more. They raised some $175,000, which is not an insignificant sum in these perilous days. All in all, a wonderful evening of women, wine and shoes... and I even met two charming women who may be in my future.

The girls from Bouchon Bakery gave me some sweets to make the drive home easier.

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