Gourmands Go In--Feast First

Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

“You can always spot the first-year people,” said Sandy Stave as she surveyed the crowd at South Coast Plaza’s Jewel Court on Sunday. “First-year people are real polite and they sit quietly. By the second year, they’ve got on running shoes and clothes with elastic waistbands and they’re on the move .”

Before the night was through, though, 510 local gourmands had cruised the buffet paradise of “Cuisine Fantasy VI,” a fund-raiser for the Orange County Philharmonic Society. Hosts are the Irvine Philharmonic and Las Canciones Women’s Committees.

This year’s benefit raised an estimated $20,000 for the Philharmonic society’s music education programs. Featured were such delectables as roast leg of veal, grilled beef tenderloin, linguine with prawns and sushi (not to mention the variety of soups and salads and the wall o’ desserts), all donated by local restaurants.

The tables were covered with white cloths topped with snare drums loaded with fruit juices, mineral water, French bread and tangerines--the theme centerpieces were to encourage guests to “drum up support” for the Philharmonic society.


On the move through it all was Mitzi Tonai, who, with Mary Louise Smith, was a co-chair of the event.

Asked why this year’s Fantasy drew nearly 100 more guests than last year’s, Tonai spread her arms wide, laughed and said, “Because I have 280 friends and relatives here tonight.”

Across the street at South Coast Plaza’s Crystal Court on the night before, more than 750 Performing Arts Center supporters gambled and danced the night away at the Cabaret Chapter of the Guilds’ “Casino Cabaret.”

The guests, dressed in the requisite black or white (or black and white) attire, munched on snacks as they tried their luck at blackjack, roulette and craps.


Walking off with the raffle prize, a real 4-night cruise for two to Ensenada, was Paul Joyce of Costa Mesa.

Proceeds from the $60-per-person benefit (about 50 tickets at $75-per were sold at the door) were about $30,000, event chairwoman Debbie Novak said.