LA JOLLA — The large and ever-expanding committee behind the annual "Celebrities Cook for the UCSD Cancer Center" culinary marathon gathered the other evening at the home of Edie and Dean Greenberg to announce the roster of chefs and judges for the May 23 event.
This tasty little tete-a-tete was quite like an hors d'oeuvre to the cooking gala, being a kind of pot-luck supper catered by and for individuals who not only can explain the subtle differences between Sardinian and Corsican anchovies, but are likely to do so at great length.
Numerous tables were crammed with exotic dishes brought by the guests, and, forks in hand, the plucky gastronomes proceeded to munch valiantly through everything from squid salad to cheese and garlic baked in bread loaves. It was a moment for Hardys rather than Laurels, although the hardiest eaters did rest on their laurels after completing this gastronomic endurance contest. This group eats first and asks questions later.
Founded in 1982 by fervent Cancer Center supporter Anne Otterson, "Celebrities Cook" is very much an extravagant pot-luck supper at which gifted local amateurs and noted chefs, cooking teachers and food writers toil to provide interesting pre-meal tidbits to a crowd that usually numbers well above 600. (The four-course dinner is catered by the Sheraton Harbor Island hotel and served in the Champagne Ballroom.) In addition, the amateur cooks compete for prizes in several categories, their works judged by eminent panels that have included such luminaries as the late James Beard.
Efforts are made to vary the format from year to year, and the May 23 event will see the inclusion of 10 local artists and an art gallery. Each will be charged with supplying an original work as decor for the mini-kitchens in which the celebrity and contestant cooks will be laboring. Among the artists are Martha Chatelain, Kenneth Capps, Matt Stevens, Margaret Honda, Carole Laventhol and Reesey Shaw.
The committee looked in its own backyard for its quartet of celebrity cooks; traditionally, the ranks of this group have been filled by out-of-towners. This year, the four will be event founder Otterson; past chairman and noted cooking teacher Jerrie Strom; Tribune food editor Antonia Allegra, and vintner Martha Culbertson.
The judges panel includes Times food editor Betsy Balsley; Sunset Magazine and Books home economics editor Jerry Anne DiVecchio; Ketchum Food Center director Maggie Waldron, and Bon Appetit magazine senior food editor Jan Weimer.
The formal, evening-long gala will be followed the next day, May 24, by "Cuisine, Cuisine," a decidedly informal food fair featuring celebrity guests, comestibles provided by local caterers, cooking demonstrations and a chocolate bar that reportedly will offer a mile-long selection of sweets.
To be held in the Sheraton's Champagne Ballroom, the event will run from noon until 4 p.m., and admission will be $10 per person. For further information, or tickets to either event, call the UCSD Cancer Center.
The guiding lights behind another food-oriented event, the "Off the Wall Street Dance and Block Party," repaired at noon the other day to the home of the UCSD School of Medicine's associate dean, Dr. Jack Farris, and his wife, Carolyn.
The Farrises served up hamburgers, hot dogs and Carolyn's famous bean-and-cheese casserole to the 50 guests, all of them committee members or participants in the Aug. 30 event, which will be the fifth in the series. The fare reflected the casual street carnival mood of "Off the Wall," which traditionally offers booths featuring games of chance, four live bands and numerous food stands.
Among those present were chairman Bette Biddulph, who, returning to the post for a second year, said new booths and games will be introduced. Others were event founders Nancy Hester and Mac Canty; chili chef Bill Black; UCSD Chancellor Richard Atkinson (who annually makes a big splash in the dunking booth) and his wife, Rita; "Off the Wall" co-chairman Neely Swanson, and restaurateurs Jim Milligan and Bill Magnuson.
Tickets to the event cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For further information, call the UCSD School of Medicine.