GET IN THE SPIRIT

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Sushi master Nobu Matsuhisa on a roll at Cal Spirit XX. Photo by Lee Salem, Lee Salem Photography

The Ken Roberts Estate became ground zero for a gourmet dining extravaganza as the American Cancer Society hosted its annual California Spirit fundraiser. Granita’s Jennifer Naylor was among the tastemakers working their culinary magic on the green. Jen had one of the coolest locations featuring her handmade peach cobbler, peach ice cream and refreshing peach granita. “Every year we try to do a different flavor,” she explained. “Last year it was strawberries, this year, I liked the peaches. The trick is to make sure they’re as fresh as can be. We do a lot of these events, but this one has always been my favorite.”

While minglers included the likes of Paramount chief Sherry Lansing and sportscaster Jim Hill, the real superstars at this party were the super chefs themselves. “Oh I’m such a fan,” fawned one foodie over Nobu Matsuhisa. “I just wanted to shake your hand.” Other top tastemakers included Spago’s dessert diva Sherry Yard, celebrated newcomer Suzanne Goin of Lucques, jamming Josie Le Balch of Josie and Luis Diaz of Chinois on Main.

There was a flavor to savor for every taste bud from Thai snapper sushi with jellyfish to sweet smoked salmon to buffalo burgers with mornay mayo. They washed it all down with vino aplenty from some of California’s best grape gurus, including selections from Neibaum Coppola, Bonny Doon and Rosenthal – The Mailbu Estate.

The al fresco shindig was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The setup from Melisse was draped in lime green velvet, adorned with a crystal chandelier and towering arrangements of hydrangeas, orchids and lemons. That’s where Josiah Citrin was mixing up tequila shooters with passion fruit foam. Spago was one of the most popular spots, serving summer favorites like roasted sweet corn salad and melt-in-your-mouth barbecue beef sandwiches.

Eight-hundred guests grazed the afternoon away while grooving to a ’60s style surf band that cranked out time honored tunes like “Wipeout” and “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Fashion statements ran the gambit from Pucci prints to Polo shirts, khaki slacks to chiffon frocks.

This year’s honoree was John Batter, vice president and group general manager of Electronic Arts.

The delicious affair raised more than a million bucks, which means those calories were well spent!