Malibu Seen / By Kim Devore


Whether it’s cracking a “CSI” caper or getting pumped up with superheroes, the California Science Center’s “Discovery Ball” always makes for an unforgettable black tie bash, combining a first class feast with food for thought.

This year, the center had even more to celebrate with a look at its $165 million expansion, complete with an impressive 188,000-gallon, kelp-filled aquarium.

Well-heeled revelers, civic leaders and science buffs made their way to Exposition Park for a sneak peak at “Ecosystems,” the center’s newest exhibition.

Locals like Bill and Cheryl Chadwick joined moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, weather guys Fritz Coleman and Al Roker and an assortment of fascinating sea creatures for the splashy event.

We started our adventure at the Polar Zone, where appropriately clad servers made the rounds with white grape gazpacho shooters and white tuna tacos. “Ecosystems” is divided into eight zones, each one exploring different parts of the planet.

Celebrity chef Susan Feniger kept inquiring minds and taste buds happy with tempting treats at every turn. She piled on the hama hama oysters and abalone at the Rocky Shore’s raw bar and served up blood orange margaritas and spicy empanadas at the Desert Zone.

Perhaps the most popular area of all was the Kelp Forest, where partygoers got a look at everything from horn sharks to wolf eels. After getting touchy feely with star fish (crunchy) and sea cucumbers (squishy), guests made their way to the sea-themed dinner. The dining area was decked out like an underwater paradise shades of turquoise blue and silver. In keeping with the aqua vibe, science fans feasted on Lake Superior Whitefish Napoleon with Asian seaweed and pan-seared arctic char with truffle dust.

The live auction featured great getaways like a five-day Alaskan adventure, and one lucky raffle winner raced off with a new Lexus luxury hybrid. After dinner, guests checked out an IMAX screening of Ultimate Wave Tahiti in 3D before dancing the night away at the Island Club.

But the biggest highlight of all was having a chance to take in Southern California’s newest cultural showcase. CSC President Jeffrey Rudolph calls the “Ecosystems” show “unprecedented” and a valuable asset to all of Los Angeles. “The combination of hands-on science and immersive environments give us an appreciation for how the living world and the physical world are interconnected,” he explains.

That adds up to a valuable lesson for kids of all ages. “Ecosystems will empower the explorer in all of us,” he says. “It fulfills our mission to stimulate curiosity and become better stewards of the environment.”

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