For the past 27 years I have faithfully attended and written about the Wolfgang Puck/Barbara Lazaroff "Meals on Wheels" Benefit, from its first year at the Spago Hollywood parking lot to last year's enormous event at the Universal Studios' Western Street. But things happen, people and events move on, so this year there is a new gala, The First Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, produced and hosted by Coastal Luxury Management with the support of Wolfgang Puck and being celebrated over the four day period of October 13th to October 16th. According to Sister Alice Marie Quinn, D.C., Executive Director of St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, the one thing that hasn't changed is the prime beneficiary of the event.
She told me that the tradition of 'food and love' continues, and she believes that the weekend event will be the most exciting new culinary event L.A. has ever seen. With flashing eyes, the dynamic nun said that, after 35 years, the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels' commitment to serving our city's hungry and homebound seniors is stronger than ever. "For nearly 30 years, it has been our honor to be the recipient of the proceeds from the American Wine & Food Festival. Now, with the launch of the new event, the team behind the highly-successful Pebble Beach Food & Wine event will expand upon the 28 years of tradition to this weekend event which spans the entire city of L.A."
There are almost a hundred events occurring, from Santa Monica's beaches (a Tom Collichio clambake) to a gala red-carpet party at L.A. Live downtown next to the Staples Center. Some of the featured entertainment includes Grammy Award-winning band Train performing at LIVE on the Plaza, Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet as a sous-chef (this I want to see!), and award-winning producer Randy Jackson from American Idol. Go to www.lafw.com for the full schedule.
But Sister Alice did insist that I attend one particular event, the Sunday October 16th Wolfgang Puck Champagne Brunch & Charity Auction at one of the great icons of Los Angeles, the newly-remodeled Hotel Bel Air. It will be the first opportunity for any of us to experience Wolfgang's cooking at the newly-renovated after a two-year restoration. She said that her friends at Mansour Travel and other generous donors have curated some incredible travel and lifestyle auction packages to be auctioned off that Sunday afternoon. (Tickets are $750 to attend the brunch and auction.) All of the net proceeds for ticket sales and the auction will go to support her mission and efforts at St. Vincent's Meals on Wheels.
I told Sister that, at lunch with Wolf this week, he had promised to take me on a pre-opening tour of the new hotel facility, where he is providing all of the food: breakfast, lunch, dinner and room service. Today I asked his partner and Executive Chef, Lee Hefter, for a copy of the new dinner menu ... and he laughed, saying they won't finalize it until the day before opening, depending upon what is available that day at Chino Farms and the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. That is freshness! Typical of the Wolfgang Puck team, which includes the brilliant pastry chef, Shery Yard, and a hundred other talented helping hands. Sister smiled and blessed me. It was a good day.
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