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Cooking Up a Gala for March of Dimes

March 09, 1986|MARY LOU LOPER | Times Staff Writer

The kitchen designers had come to the Sheraton Premiere about midnight the night before and created all sorts of culinary cubbyhole fantasies for backdrops.

The celebrity chefs, chosen as much for their pizazz as for their names, had contrived wonders, which they willingly placed on the line for the March of Dimes supporters ($250 per person) to criticize and for the luminaries of the cuisine world to judge--people such as restaurant columnists Lois Dwan, Pierre Franey, James Villas and Jan Weimer; chefs such as Wolfgang Puck of Spago and John Sedlar of St. Estephe; and Martha Stewart, cookbook author.

Someone had to be judged best. Would it be Cristina Ferrare Thomopoulos and Tony T with their Crepes da Vinci? Or Phyllis and Jess Marlow with Chocolate Carmel Fantasia; Drew Barrymore and Michael Praed with Biscuit Menagerie; Lisa and Kim Bell with Cinnamon Apples en Croute with Creme Anglaise; Wayne Rogers and Finola Hughes' Scungilli, or DeWain and Jina Valentine with 1-2-3 Sea Bass; Tuck and Tom Trainer Jr.'s Ceviche; Stephen and Marcia Cannell's Papillon de Cannell; Vilma Martinez's Paella; Keith and Bill Kieschnick's Hopkins County Stew; George Hamilton's and Kate Jackson's Pasta Primavera; or Vidal and Jeanette Sassoon's Putanesca a la Silvana?

None of them. A musician and an art expert, Ernest Fleischmann and Lyn Kienholz, won with their South African bobotie dish, which, after judging, landed at the table of Joan and John Hotchkis, and was devoured in spite of the glorious meal that the Sheraton had served for 525 guests.

It was part of the hoopla carefully constructed by Andrea Van de Kamp, Joanne Kozberg and Nancy Vreeland and their dinner coordinator, Phyllis Hennigan, to net probably close to $180,000, maybe more, for the March of Dimes causes, according to calculations by that organization's executive director Thomas Canar. Similar parties are held in other major cities to raise funds for genetic research to prevent birth defects.

Tuesday night nearly $20,000 was raised on an auction of aprons designed by stellar artists. The David Hockney apron actually was bid up to $8,000 by Dona and Dwight Kendall, but in the hustle bustle Vincent Price was proclaiming Barbara Lazaroff, standing on the dance floor gesturing spiritedly, as the winner at $7,500. She promptly claimed the prize and dashed it over to husband Wolfgang Puck. The Robert Graham went for $3,250, Price himself bought the Billy Al Bengston, Derek Knudson the Ed Moses, and others will frame or cook spaghetti in a Peter Alexander, Charles Arnoldi and Laddie John Dill apron.

Said Nancy Vreeland, accompanied by Tim: "The kitchen designers did the hard work." Thus, the Trainers were assembling beneath a Maxine Smith and Celia Cleary job with chandelier, others in kitchen finery by Kalef Alaton, Thomas Allardyce, Illya Hendrix, Val Arnold, Kurt Stephens, Tom Buckley, Louis Cataffo, Jack E. Lowrance, Janet Polizzi, Jackie Morgen and Lazaroff, Mimi London, Anthony Machado, Brindell Roberts and Darlene Bricker.

The polished crowd admired and adulated: Joyce McCray and Gep Durenburger, Hannah and Ed Carter (he was corporate gift chairman), the Ed Landrys, Henry and Noorna Eversole, Rufus Rogers, Martha and Jimmy Kilroe, Victoria Coberly, Milo Bixby, Georgie Van de Kamp, Gabriella Santaniello, Monica Pitts, Dan and Joan Baker, and so many more.

The Frederick Nicholases hosted a dinner party for 37 at Chasen's as a farewell to honor Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo and his son Alessandro. Dr. Panza is a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art, which Nicholas serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees.

A historical cross section of works represented at Panza's palatial Milan residence has come to Los Angeles and forms an important basis of MOCA's permanent collection.

Among guests were William F. Kieschnick, chairman of the trustees; museum director Richard Koshalek and his wife Betty, Doug Cramer, Craig Johnson, Judge and Mrs. William Norris, Mrs. John Van de Kamp, Mrs. Harry Maron, and Messrs. and Mmes. Leo Wyler, Elliott Horwitch, Dick Brawerman, Max Medvin, Mike Stern, Irving Fuller, Steven Antebi, David Licht, and Muriel Slatkin and Bronya Pereira.

Historically, it's been traditional for young women presented at the Easter Monday Presentation Ball to be presented to the archbishop of the diocese. This year, the 25 will be presented to Bishop John J. Ward, vicar general of the archdiocese.

Mrs. Donley Brady, president of the Social Service Auxiliary, heads the ball committee co-chairmen--Mmes. Michael A. Wayne and Joseph Hegener--who stage the event March 31 in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton to raise funds for Sisters of Social Service community activities.

Many of the young women are daughters or nieces of those presented at the first ball in 1958 at the Hilton.

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