On Oscar Night, CHOC Is the Big Star at Planet Hollywood

Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to the Times Orange County. Information for this column can be faxed to (714) 966-7790. Or phone (714) 966-7700.

And the Oscar for best altruistic performance goes to . . . Planet Hollywood! No surprise.

On Monday, the South Coast Plaze Village restaurant will again host an Academy Awards night party, and as president Frank DiBella points out, "Who could do it better? Our whole insides is the Hollywood scene."

Outside, paparazzi, adoring "fans" and a lush red carpet will greet the guests to the benefit for Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange. The "whole insides" are always filled with Hollywood memorabilia, and for the party, they'll also have huge TV monitors, live and silent auctions and a buffet dinner that runs from chicken crunch to Snickers pie.

"We're donating 100% to CHOC hospital," DiBella said. "Food, labor, everything."

Planet Hollywood's South Coast Village location first staged an Academy Awards benefit last year. Nine other U.S. locations have followed suit.

The party, which lasts from 5 to 9:30 p.m., is co-hosted by the CHOC Padrinos. Cost is $75, and preferred attire is "Hollywood glamour," of course.

1641 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana. (714) 532-8683.


You don't like the food? Want to complain about the service? Now you can tell the chef to his face--in both cases. Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa has introduced the Chef's Lunch, where chefs will be servers as well as cooks. Could be a great way to bring down overhead, but chef/owner Alan Greeley insists it's all just for fun. . . .

Pavilion at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach clobbered the other entries with seared ahi atop rice stick noodles at the Adventures in Healthy Dining cook-off at Chapman General Hospital in Orange. And don't think there wasn't some healthy competition from Scott's Seafood, Gandhi Indian Cuisine and Trattoria Spiga. . . .

Wine lovers can 'round the Horn on Saturday, when the American Institute of Wine and Food will offer a sampling of 10 wines from South Africa. South African-born Master of Wine Peter Koff presents the wines at a residence in Lake Forest. It's $15 for members, $25 for non-members, and tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. Call (714) 457-0461. . . .

Smoke lovers can enjoy a colorful "Smoker Dinner" at John Dominis in Newport Beach on Wednesday, $95 all-inclusive; it starts at 7 p.m. Among the five courses, accompanied by fine whites and reds, are black and blue ahi on spicy noodles and smoked mussels, and a triple-layer mocha/white chocolate tort with orange slices and almonds. Cigars on the terrace between courses, cigars with Cognac after dinner.

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