The coast’s biggest benefit goes off beautifully.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Siku Glacier Ice Vodka martinis poured from ice sculptures and wine from more than 10 local wineries flowed perpetually. A maze of more than 150 silent-auction items, including local art, wine and gift certificates, occupied tables and walls. Multi-percussion ensemble the Sambahemians led the guests from the reception into the ballroom for dinner.
And this was just the beginning of an eye-bulging evening at the Monterey Conference Center, where more than 600 local dignitaries, luminaries and community members gathered to drink, eat and support those affected by the recent Big Sur fires.
Master chefs from across Big Sur– including Big Sur Bakery’s Michelle Rizzolo and Phil Wojtowicz, Deetjen’s Domingo Santamaria and Sierra Mar’s Craig Von Forester, among others– threw everything they had into the event, crafting delectable delights like deconstructed beef Wellington, shrimp and charentais melon ceviche and molten chocolate cake.
The event’s donors spared little either.
Twenty lavish live auction items offered everything from a Post Ranch Inn romantic escape to an Esalen “existential experience.”
Intertwined with the gala’s glamour and extravagance were moments representative of why Big Sur is so loved: the solidarity and spirit of its residents.
The 15 members of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade were brought on stage to a tear-filled standing ovation as a slide show looped photos taken during the fire by Kodiak Greenwood.
The event also maintained the communal feel of a night at Fernwood. “The camaraderie is great,” said Willi Franz, Marriott executive chef.
Sardine Factory Executive Chef and co-owner Bert Cutino pointed out how quickly the community rallied to pull it off. “Everybody from the culinary, wine and hospitality industry has come together to make this happen on short notice,” he said.
Moreover, the extraordinary qualities of the event ultimately extended to the amount of money raised: $200,000-plus for the Coast Property Owners Association.