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A Fare to Remember : 'Great Chefs' From 16 Restaurants Cooks Up a Diet-Busting Extravaganza

November 27, 1996|KATHRYN BOLD

More than 500 party-goers got a jump on their holiday feasting Sunday, when the "Great Chefs of Orange County" served their specialties at a benefit for the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California, Orange County Region.

Guests sampled wines from more than a dozen vintners and indulged in mousse of foie gras, wild antelope sausage and other exotic fare from 16 local restaurants, all housed in one ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach. The $75-per-person wine and food tasting event and silent auction were expected to net more than $90,000 for the kidney foundation, which has an office in Fountain Valley.

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Chefs at Work

" 'Great Chefs' is the kickoff for the holiday season," said Sherry Madsen, spokeswoman for the benefit committee. "It's the first opportunity of the season for guests to break their diets."

Participants got into the holiday spirit by sporting colorful evening attire, even though this was an afternoon gala. Women showed up in little red dresses and black, sparkling ensembles.

Armed with tiny trays and glasses of wine, they roamed the ballroom visiting stations stocked with gourmet goodies. Participating chefs cooperated in creating the menu and enjoyed a good-natured competition among themselves, said David Friederich, the Four Seasons' food and beverage director.

"You don't want four people serving duck and four serving creme bru^lee," he said.

Chefs not only served their favorite recipes, but also set up elaborately decorated food stations. Prego restaurant set up colorful striped posts, reminiscent of those seen along the waterways of Venice, and chef Alberto Morello prepared a massive fruit tiramisu in the form of a colorful Harlequin mask. Habana Restaurant erected a small safari tent complete with hanging lanterns, where chef Luis Tzorin served lobster empanadas. The Golden Truffle created a tropical oasis that included a palm tree with a trunk made of pineapple and served grilled Caribbean dogfish--a creation of chef Alan Greeley.

"We all work together. It's a good cause," said host chef Michel Pieton of the Pavilion restaurant at the Four Seasons.

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Speaking Out

Event organizers seek to help the more than 1 million people in Southern California who suffer from kidney disease. Proceeds will be used for research, a summer camp for children with renal failure, and public education on organ donation.

"Kidney failure is sort of a hidden disease," said Karla Baer Cohen, the foundation's special events director. "People talk about other diseases, but not kidney diseases."

Committee member Nancy Bartelt said her father suffered kidney failure three years ago. He is on dialysis.

"This event has a special meaning for our family," said Nancy, who attended the event with her father, Kenneth, and mother, Doris.

Among the chefs participating were Franco Barone and Pino Domicolo of Antonello Ristorante; Paul Gstrein of Bistango; Robert Marqune of Ferdussi; John McLaughlin of the Summit House; Eric Nguyen of Foxfire; Michael Philippi of the Hobbit; Corrado Gianotti of Tutto Mare; Karl Schmid of Towers; Tim Goodell and Florent Marneau of Aubergine; Sumeth Tila of Royal Thai; Dennis Brask of Five Crowns; Byron Gemmell of Palmira Grill; and Carlito Jocson and Michelle Bracken of Zov's Bistro.

Other faces in the crowd included food critic Merrill Shindler, guest host; Joyce Albrecht, Amy Baumgartner, Mary Ellen Click, James Cohen, Debbie Giampapa, Laura Gleason, Shannon LaPierre, Bill and Toni Loconto, Cindy Nelsen, Robin Ridgeway, Franceska Rocconi, Bill and Claire Sharp, Joyce Spizer, Suzie Tremblay and Susan Wigdale.

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