Never mind that it was so hot you could have sizzled a shrimp on the terrace. With many sporting wide-brim hats and parasols to shield themselves from the summer scorcher, hundreds of foodies descended on media mogul Ken Roberts' lush Mandeville Canyon estate to sample gourmet specialties -- some of them refreshingly cool -- from L.A. restaurants at the American Cancer Society's annual "California Spirit" garden party.
There was sherbet presented in a tangerine shell with a splash of watermelon soup from Vert, melonade (freshly squeezed lemonade with melon bits and juice) from Josie, yellow tomato gazpacho with avocado cream from Lucques and chilled strawberry soup with creme fraiche from Granita. Hearty fare was also up for sampling at the afternoon soiree that raised $800,000 for cancer research, education and patient services: braised short-ribs Bourguignonne from Melisse, fennel wrapped in smoked salmon from Bastide and braised beef with duck liver from Belvedere at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills.
"We started this event 19 years ago as a little garden party, barely breaking even," said chef Wolfgang Puck, co-host of the July 20 party with estranged wife and business partner Barbara Lazaroff and Paramount chief Sherry Lansing. "Today we have 900 people and the most famous restaurants. We're going to keep going until we conquer this disease." Sporting a rose chiffon frock and a flower-bedecked hat, Lazaroff said the benefit was named for the society's spirited fight against cancer.
Former L.A. Parks Commissioner Steven L. Soboroff was honored at the affair for his commitment to the society's cancer prevention programs for youth, including fitness, nutrition and smoking cessation. Soboroff, president of Playa Vista, lost his mother to ovarian cancer in 1991 and his father to stomach cancer in 1997. "The society is making so much progress in winning" the battle against this disease, he said. "Diagnosis comes earlier, treatment is better, survival longer. We have to keep supporting the campaign against cancer."