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No Chefs Salad This Year at the Art of Dining

May 17, 1997|CATHY CURTIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEWPORT BEACH — For the first time in its 10-year history, the annual Art of Dining benefit looks more like a corporate advertisement than a convocation of superchefs.

Every year, wunderchef Joachim Splichal of Patina in Los Angeles has gathered a dazzling lineup of chefs from top restaurants around the country for the event. Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel here, Splichal and his handpicked crew will have been replaced by chefs chosen only from Four Seasons hotels.

In the past, the Art of Dining raised money for the Newport Harbor Art Museum. This year it will benefit the Orange County Museum of Art, created in July through a merger of the Newport and Laguna Art museums.

The Four Seasons, a donor to the Art of Dining, has an exclusive contract with the Orange County Museum of Art: All catered events held there must be handled by the hotel's restaurant.

But Mehdi Eftekari, general manager of the Four Seasons here, says this year's Art of Dining arrangement is not an attempt to promote the Four Seasons. Rather, he says, it was "the only way" the event could be pulled off this time.

Splichal notified the museum early in March that unforeseen commitments were forcing him to withdraw. Eftekari says Splichal left the Four Seasons in the position of having to find chefs to commit their time and fly across the country. The only way to do that, Eftekari said, was to draw on the chain's own personnel.

He said if the Four Seasons is chosen to run the event next year, a search for chefs would begin as soon as possible and not all of them would come from the chain.

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