Westside foodies were chowing down for a good cause. They flocked to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for the annual eat-a-thon to benefit Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.
The place was decked out in its festive best with gigantic turquoise and lime helium balloons hovering above dozens of food stands below.
There was an endless array of delights from Ocean Ave’s abundant oyster bar to exotic buffalo and elk chili from Saddle Peak Lodge. Even critics couldn’t quibble over the quality.
Capo served up a delectable and heirloom tomato and burrata salad. The buttery ingredient was the genuine article straight from Italy; not the tasteless, chewy goo you find in some local dives.
Chef Warren Schwartz, who’s made the move from rustic Saddle Peak to trendy Whist in Santa Monica, was cooking up some of his latest creations. “I still love bold and interesting flavors,” he explained while searing up some fois gras with brandied cherries, “But you don’t want to push the envelope too far. Right now, it’s not about extreme cuisine and it’s not about being boring. It’s a balance between the two.”
Whether you crave caviar or have a yen for sushi, there was something to please every palate. “I’m in heaven,” mumbled gourmand Marvin Shapiro as he inhaled a classic Pink’s chili dog with onions. “I start at Pink’s, then I do the fancy stuff, then I come back for another Pink’s.” Pal Barry Goldman was on the same program. After splurging on their first guilty pleasure, the pair headed off for the main dining room where 1,600 fellow food fans lined up for AOC’s manchego crostini with quince paste, sweet corn tamales from El Cholo and Koutoubia’s marinated Moroccan veggies. There was vino aplenty to wash it all down, with selections from Sharffenberger Cellars, Wally’s and Laetitia Vineyards.
In between bites, eating enthusiasts got swinging with the Profit and Loss Dixieland Jazz Band and enjoyed island favorites courtesy of the Nassau Steel Ensemble. If you wanted to add a little shopping to the menu, you could do that too. Vendors were on hand with everything from eel skin bags, to specimen orchids, vintage frocks to sleek, Italian kitchenware. For something a little more luxurious, the silent auction featured offerings from Movado, Louis Vitton and Swarovski.
By the evening’s end foodies had their fill and helped raise half a million bucks in the process. Proceeds from this year’s dining adventure will go toward Planned Parenthood’s medical, educational and outreach programs.