On Sunday, foodies were in Chef heaven at the the 30th California Spirit fundraiser on the Sony lot to benefit The American Cancer Society, where top chefs such as Thomas Keller and Neal Fraser treated guests to samples from, respectibly, Bouchon and Redbird, along with Barrel & Ashes, chi SPACCA, Lemonade, Knuckle & Claw, Picca, Tavern, A Sweet Savory, plus wine from Malibu Vineyards, Mystic Hills Vineyard, The Wine House, Greenbar Distillery, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and LVP Sangria.
An exuberant James Beard Award-winning Rocco DiSpirito hosted the Calif Spirit 20 event, which featured silent and live auctions, live entertainment, and a raffle for a 2015 Ford Fusion Energi. You could catch Rocco, who has a The New York Times bestseller with’Cook Your Butt Off!’, bouncing from booth to booth, greeting all the chefs and sampling all the food.
During the event, Thomas Keller stood outside his booth, calling out “free food” while bouncing a beach ball to guests, posing for photos while next door Neal Fraser manned the giant BBQ grill, with it’s meaty pork chops and happily chatted with fans. (Bouchon featured Island Creek MA Oysters, Penn Cove Mussels, Coromandel NZ Oysters, Sweet Shrimp, White Albacore Tuna; Redbird offered the pork with Apricot Mostardo & Hazelnuts.)
The new kid on the block, Catch and Release, with chef Jason Neroni, wowed the crowd with their fresh seafood offerings, and renowned mixologist Julian Cox whipped up concoctions that went with everything. At Knuckle + Claw participants chowed down on Lobster Rolls with Fresh Knuckle and Claw Meat on Split Top Rockenwagner Bakery Parker Rolls.
At Lemonade, personable Chef Alan Jackson personally dolled out six healthy, delicious salads (which contained, among other things, Moroccan couscous, Washington cherries, French feta pistachio, White nectarine, Persian cucumber, english pea, watercress, mint,sesame ginger braised duck rainbow chard, and pickled nopales.) Another stand-out was Barrel & Ashes’s Smoked Beef Brisket and Watermelon Salad, which was quickly snapped up, and Spacca’s Porcini Rubbed Short Ribs with Salsa Verde and Scallions.
Everyone at the event was feted like royalty, all the while raising money for the American Cancer Society. A big win-win.
Photos by Evan Hosie