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BEHIND THE SCENES / ORANGE COUNTY

Sweet Spot

September 11, 1997

Thaddeus Foret knows you can't get by with the same old tired thing in the party biz.

As one of the forces behind La Dolce Vita--a fund-raiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation--for five years, he's felt obligated to provide patrons with a different experience each time.

On Sunday, he stuck with the same setting as he has each year--the courtyard outside Antonello Ristorante in Santa Ana--but managed to make the event fresh.

The first La Dolce Vita was a buffet dinner under the stars. Sunday's offered a four-course meal served by tuxedoed waiters.

The first event was held at the end of a mild summer day; this year, well, you remember how sticky Sunday was. But, in the end, the weather didn't ruin the evening, Foret says.

"I used to live in New Orleans and we never discussed the temperature. We'd say, 'Today is a two-shower day' or 'a three-shower day' based on how hot and humid it was. Sunday was a three-shower day.

"We were nervous, standing around and praying that the humidity would go away. A cool breeze came in just in time, and we got more than what we asked for," Foret says.

The first event's invitation read "summer elegance," and guests showed up in rhinestones and flashy clothes; this year, everyone wore sophisticated, and definitely well-ventilated, fashions.

And bottom line: The first event raised $35,000; this year, the take more than doubled.

"For this outdoor event, the lighting, music and food come together to raise money for a good cause," Foret says. "Every year we learn from the past year's mistakes. We fine-tune and get ready for the next year."

Foret's favorite La Dolce Vita so far?

"The first, maybe because it was the first. But it was the most enjoyable because the pasta was being prepared fresh outside and it seemed like one big party from beginning to end. That night someone said to me, 'Same time, next month?' It was that much fun. But we can only do it once a year. It's a lot of work."

* For more information on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, call (714) 938-1393.

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