Malibu Seen: Grazing for health

Amanda Goldberg and Justin Murdock join Malibu’s Brunson clan -Erika (center) Bob and Kim-along with Barry Glaser and Wendy Goldberg at Cal Spirit. Lee Salem Photography

Billionaire pineapple king David Murdock was top banana at this year’s California Spirit gala. The chairman and owner of Dole Foods has long been an advocate of healthy living and longevity, and there was no better place than the annual American Cancer Society event to get his message across.

The splashy, Cal Spirit bash is hosted by Sherry Lansing, Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff, who pull out all the stops on the food front. This year’s gourmet graze-a-thon moved from the grassy expanse of the Ken Roberts Ranch in the Palisades to the sleek confines of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

Malibu’s Wendy Goldberg arrived with her daughter, “Celebutants” author Amanda Goldberg, in tow. They hit the VIP pre-party with Murdock’s son Justin before heading out to the great outdoors.

Guests were greeted by a `50s crooner delivering snappy numbers from the American Songbook. As tunes like “Witchcraft” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” set the stage, the city’s top chefs got ready to work their magic.

Wolfgang Puck brought his culinary all-stars-Rene Mata from Chinois on Main, Ari Rosenson of Cut, Red Seven’s Matt Bencivenga and Spago’s top-notch trio of Thomas Boyce, Lee Hefter and dessert diva Sherry Yard. Other high profile tastemakers hailed from Lago, Melisse and Fraiche.

In keeping with its garden party theme, the place was decked out in mint green with the tables topped with terracotta pots brimming with bright marigolds.

Chinois opted for an Asian look dressed up in tangerine silk with massive pompoms of orange roses and yellow cymbidiums. The gourmet masters dished out some of their signature dishes-oriental chicken salad, blue crab and seafood pancakes. Just across the way John Cuevas was pouring a heavenly heirloom tomato soup. Every year he brings the world’s best varieties in by the bushel and even lets his fans take a few home.

Christie’s Andrea Fiuczynski returned as the event’s auctioneer. She sold off one-of-a-kind items like a well-worn golf putter, which belonged to the legendary Bob Hope, and a colorful garden scene by LeRoy Neiman. You could also opt for an exclusive dinner for 10 hosted by this year’s honoree.

When it comes to dining, Murdock takes his meals very seriously. No doubt the lucky winners are sure to be in for a lot of dietary insight along with their fruits and veggies. In addition to his Dole duties, the CEO of Castle and Cooke is in charge of the California Health and Longevity Institute in Westlake Village and the man behind the 500-page “Encyclopedia of Food.”

Event chair Eric Breslow said he was “ecstatic” that Murdock was selected for this year’s honors, saying, “He has dedicated a portion of his life to the study of nutrition and how diet can prevent certain forms of cancer.”

From its humble beginning in the parking lot of Spago, Cal Spirit has become one of the city’s most successful and delicious charities, raising more than $14 million to cure cancer for good.

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