Five, maybe 10 minutes after Junie Chong glided into the living room of a Lido Isle home Friday night, whispers of sausage rolls and fried won ton and "the most heavenly shrimp toast in the world " filled the air.
"The Chinese say there is something special in everyone's kitchen," Chong said as she flitted from guest to guest, bearing a tray of her homemade delicacies.
Judging by the culinary contributions of Chong and colleagues to a fund-raiser for the Museum Council of the Newport Harbor Art Museum, the Chinese are right.
The buffet table at the dockside home boasted a veritable United Nations of appetizers prepared by council members, including Sally Crowe's rumaki, Franceen Webb's spinach fritata, Esther Quick's stuffed grape leaves and Barbara Mitchell's shrimp mousse with jicama wedges.
Alison Baker-Frenzel smiled as she plucked a jicama slice from the spread. "I would never have thought of using jicama with a dip," she said, biting into the snow-white root. "What a wun-n-n-derful idea!"
The soiree (held in an antique-filled home whose owners requested anonymity) drew 75 casually dressed guests at $30 each for cocktails, noshes and a panoramic view of the Newport Harbor boat parade. It was the second of a two-part effort to raise money for the 136-member council's latest project: a consignment shop to benefit the museum. (The night before, 20 guests paid $50 each to cruise the harbor in Bob Lorenzetti's 60-foot ketch "Heartlight.")
"If everything goes as planned, we'll open our shop in the spring," said Sandra Beigel, council president. Beigel said she and members had been planning the shop--which will carry antiques, china, silver, crystal and collectibles ("no junk!")--for a year. They got their inspiration from a consignment shop in Rancho Santa Fe that Beigel and council members Quick and Nora Lehman visited earlier this year.
The project was approved by the museum board of trustees in October, according to board president Rogue Hemley, who--with wife, Judy--was among guests admiring colorfully lit craft gliding past a wall of picture windows.
Event chairwoman Peggy Spiess said the council was shooting for $50,000 start-up money for the shop.
"We've already looked at a few possible locations," Spiess said. With a twinkle in her eyes, Spiess added that the group had pitched its project to the Irvine Co., owners of Fashion Island, "and they were very receptive, but we haven't gotten an answer yet. Maybe they'll just say, 'We have a little shop we're not using.' "
Beigel said the shop's "first merchandise will probably come from our members. I know I'm taking a look at everything in my home," she said, laughing. "This is an opportunity to clear out space and make room for new things!"