9th 'Evening With Oscar' Caters to Chapter's Yen for Starry Glitz of Awards

Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

"People go nuts for this," said Sunny Saldana, raising her voice to be heard above a cacophony of squealing teen-age girls. "They feel like they're at the real thing."

Among the billions watching last week's Oscar telecast was a group of local caterers and friends doing their black-tie best to replicate the real thing (the Shrine Auditorium thing, that is).

Thanks to Saldana and party co-host Pam Spinarski--co-founders of the local chapter of the National Assn. of Catering Executives--550 local food-biz folks had a place to go on Oscar night.

As they do at the Shrine, NACE's ninth annual "Evening with Oscar" was steeped in glitz. Greeting guests at a side entrance to the Anaheim Marriott were:

* Thirty leotard-and-fishnet-stockinged dancers in silver tap shoes.

* Dozens of screaming teen-agers (yelping a four-star performance as autograph-hounds).

* A video crew taping Army Archeresque interviews.

* An electronic robot on wheels.

Once inside the hotel, guests grabbed a no-host cocktail and made for the "balloting room"--a sound stage-size enclosure lined with white-clothed tables and dotted with pitchers of ice water and upturned glasses. Busy at the thirsty business of thoughtful balloting was bandleader Barry Cole, an omnipresence on the local party circuit.

In pink bow tie and matching pocket square, Cole said he is a devoted movie fan and Oscar partyer of long standing (8 years with the NACEies).

"I love this," he said, scanning his fellow voters. "I don't want to have the experience diluted, so I come to these parties alone."

Down the tables from Cole were Jim and Paulette Shryock, he in a powdered wig, she with a feather fan, both in 18th-Century finery.

Of their costumes (the only ones at the party): "We went to see 'Dangerous Liaisons' the other night and got inspired," said the faux viscount, who otherwise functions as a school administrator in La Habra. "It was this, or come as 'Mississippi Burning' extras."

Jill Mahoney admitted that she had not seen any of the nominated movies this year, "which is why I brought this," she said, waving a square of newsprint clipped from a newspaper, from which she was busy transcribing the critic's picks.

After balloting, guests progressed to the ballroom, where 10 California beauty pageant titleholders--Misses and Junior Misses in pastel gowns and rhinestone tiaras--distributed raffle tickets. Enormous video screens angled in the four corners of the room gave every seat a perfect sight line.

With the televised Oscar spectacle as backdrop, waiters brought the catering crowd a dinner of mixed greens with blue cheese and fresh raspberries, petite filets with port wine sauce and veal medallions with brandy cream sauce, and coffee, petit fours and truffles.

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