It was with great, generous spirits that more than 300 area residents who love fine dining joined forces to make a difference for youngsters in need of mental health and other therapeutic support services as part of Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services' annual fundraiser — "Dinners from the Heart."
A host of fabulous restaurants, both large and small, stretching from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena welcomed their guests who showed up with hearty appetites.
This year's dinners raised more than $54,000. Since its inception in 1991, the event has brought in more than $665,000.
Event co-chairs this year were Bob and Gregg Smith of Smith Brothers Restaurant Corporation (Arroyo Chop House, Café 140 South, Cheval Blanc, Parkway Grill, Smitty's Grill, Vibrato), along with the Los Altos Auxiliary.
This year's fundraiser also included a series of dinners featuring special guests. Diners had the opportunity to sit down with: MUSE/IQUE violinist Julie Rogers at Vertical Wine Bistro; sculptor and teacher Christopher Slatoff at Roy's Restaurant; playwright Paul Kikuchi at Briganti Restaurant; winemaker Shawn Guilliams and chef Claud Beltran at Noir Food & Wine; International Wine & Food Society Chairman Dave Felton at Patina Restaurant; and Los Angeles Times sports reporter Sam Farmer at Smitty's Restaurant.
I had an opportunity to dine with hostesses Annsley Strong, Mary Pinola and Paulette Lang at Cucina Rustica in Montrose. Warmly greeting us at the door was Allen Mousaian, who bid us to relax by sipping some excellent wines and then to partake of the varied menu they had carefully selected for our enjoyment. Mousaian, who recently underwent serious back surgery, was thrilled to be back at his post once again as part of this team who made this such a delightful dining experience in the little village of Montrose.
Other area diners coming to this unique neighborhood restaurant included Dale and Stephen Ball; Betsy, Laura, Will and Paula Bazdarich; Shirley and Bill Bottger; Jinny, Richard and Allison Dalbeck; Betsy and Allen Gillespie, Bob Lang, Jo and John Loomis, Teffy and Julie Mang, Beatrice Li, Janet Ho, Kimmie and Hok Leung, Betsy Petit, Charlie Kenny, Bobbi Parker, Rosanne and Tom Rosa, Karen and Tom Spalding, George Strong, Courtney Strong Thomas and Christa Evans.
Renee LaBran and Malcolm Boyd welcomed old friends to the Bistro 45 Restaurant. This dinner was the sixth one they have hosted here. They have a special place in their hearts for Bistro 45 because this is where they've celebrated their wedding anniversaries.
The chef created a lovely menu of assorted hors d'oeuvres followed by a salmon entree. The grand dessert finale was their famed chocolate soup that is divine.
Before guests began to dine, LaBran, who is chair of Hathaway-Sycamores board of directors, shared a heartfelt story of a young person she had taken an interest in and had given so much support to at the facility. Renee and Malcolm were so gracious to invite me to their special restaurant.
Just before dessert was served, Robert Simon, owner of the restaurant, thanked diners for their attendance and Renee and Malcolm for being hosts. He applauded the work of Hathaway-Sycamores.
Diners joining LaBran and Boyd at Bistro 45 included Mark Tinoco and Jan Hotchkin Tinoco, Cindy Steckbeck, Dru Gartside, Julie Markowitz, Clarissa Weirick, Laura Hobart, Diane Moldafsky, Elise and Steve Del Guercio, Ellen and Anthony Portantino, Nancy Fairchild, Alex Brown, Loretta Savery, Brad Weirick, Brad Schwartz, Diane and Jon Moldafsky and Greg Boreham.
Just some of the other restaurants that also welcomed guests for the benefit included The Raymond, Smitty's, Arroyo Chophouse, Roy's, Maison Akira, Vertical Wine Bistro, Noir and Patina.
JANE NAPIER NEELY