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The Crowd: More than $400,000 raised for Make-A-Wish fundraiser held at Bowers Museum

Table for 10 founder Kristin Martin and title sponsor Mary Murfey are shown at the dinner event held at Bowers Museum.
Table for 10 founder/producer Kristin Martin with title sponsor Mary Murfey. The event raised $400,000 at the annual dinner held at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.
(Courtesy of Tony Lattimore)

It is one of America’s most emotionally charged nonprofits. Make-A-Wish, founded in 1980 with the mission of granting dream experiences to children suffering serious illnesses, held an annual friend-fundraiser known as Table for 10 in Orange County.

It was the 15th such extravagant dining party held recently at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. More than 300 guests turned out in support of Make-A-Wish Orange County and Inland Empire. Among the VIPs were the organization’s local president and chief executive Gloria Jetter Crockett and Make-A-Wish America CEO Richard K. Davis.

“Since its founding in 1980 Make-A-Wish has granted more than half a million wishes,” Davis shared with the crowd, to standing ovation.

The concept of the event is unique to most other charitable gatherings built around a dinner gathering. Top O.C. chefs are invited to create a one-of-a-kind dining experiences for a Table for 10 patrons. The menu, the libations, the décor and the presentation are all specially created by each participating chef and team. No two are alike.

Event Chef Chair Pascal Olhats with Honorary Celebrity Chef Jessica Roy of Cultivar during the Make-A-Wish fundraiser.
Event Chef Chair Pascal Olhats with Honorary Celebrity Chef Jessica Roy of Cultivar raising money for Make-A-Wish Orange County and Inland Empire.
(Courtesy of Tony Lattimore)

Patrons/donors may select a chef-table of choice or they can be simply assigned. Either way, surprise and delight are reactions clearly on the menu.

Some of the very happy guests involved were Moti and Idit Ferder, Jonathon Curci and Janet Curci, Lisa Hallaian, Donna Bianchi, Kathy Hamilton, Mary Murfey and Harriet Lehman. The success of the event belongs to the Table for 10 founder/producer Kristin Martin and honored the chef chair, Pascal Olhats.

What makes it all possible is the participation of the chefs. The list is long, the effort is tremendous, and generous. No expense is spared. Restaurants participating include Cannery Seafood of the Pacific, Craft House, Dana Point Yacht Club, Nobu Newport Beach, Linda Johnson with her popular Filomena’s Italian Kitchen, Costa Mesa, Chef Jacob of Members Grill, Balboa Bay Club, Pelican Hill Resort, Newport Coast, Chef Manfred Lassahu of Watertable at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, and Kyle St. John of the Ranch, Laguna Beach, to list only a few.

Gloria Crockett joined Richard Davis presenting Jessica Roy, Cultivar executive chef at Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar, with an Honorary Chef award.

“Roy was thrilled to be honored and very happy the proceeds were benefiting such a worthy cause,” said Donna Bunce, representing Make-A-Wish.

“Crockett then invited the Make-A-Wish Orange County, Inland Empire chapter’s board chairman Komron Tarkeshian to the stage to help her honor 10-year board member Harriet Lehman, who is retiring from the board. Crockett thanked Lehman for her dedication to Make-A-Wish and for granting many wishes for children,” Komron Tarkeshian said. “We call Harriet our MVP because wherever she is needed, she is there.”

Table for 10 prompted some very generous supporters to step up. Mary Murfey and Patti Grundhofer were the event’s title sponsors, and the Fund-A-Need prompted generous support, including $30,000 from Richard and Theresa Davis, and $15,000 from Anthony and Carie Jernquist-Ferry. The Fund-A-Need effort reached $127,000 to benefit the deserving nonprofit.

Table for 10 netted overall more than $400,000 for the cause, making it possible for 22 children to have their wishes granted in the Orange County and Inland Empire communities. The generous support Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire received from attendees, chefs and restaurants displayed a generous heart in addressing the needs of children in crisis.

Great style and creative design were the hallmarks of a recent confab in the chic penthouse location of Baccarat Boutique at South Coast Plaza. Designers were welcomed from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) coming together for a pre-Baccarat reception dinner at Knife Pleat, also at South Coast Plaza, celebrating 16 past presidents of ASID Orange County. The crowd enjoyed a three course, seasonal menu created by Michelin-starred Chef Tony Esnault, beginning with an heirloom tomato salad followed by Ora King salmon with sauce vierge and a decadent Louis XV chocolate dessert. The design crowd raved.

Baccarat boutique director Torrey Obray and VP of sales for Baccarat Sally Burnside.
Baccarat boutique director Torrey Obray and VP of sales for Baccarat Sally Burnside at sponsor reception for local designers and past presidents of ASID OC.
(Courtesy of Dylan Lujano)

Post dinner the local arbiters of style were welcomed by Baccarat Boutique Director Torrey Obray for an after-dinner cocktail experience served by Knife Pleat staff pouring the cocktails in Baccarat’s crystal tumblers, also all on elegant display for the designers.

In the crowd were ASID OC president Julia Alt chatting with the organization’s president elect Jessica Jones. Also front and center were Baccarat’s VP of sales North America Sally Burnside and top Baccarat account executive Megan McDonald, both charming their guests with the exquisite crystal on display.

The affair was also supported by the society publisher of Angeleno Magazine, Los Angeles and Riviera Magazine, Orange County, Christopher Gialanella of Modern Luxury. As the design crowd clicked their Baccarat tumblers in a toast, it was noted that 20% of the evening’s proceeds would be donated to ASID OC to benefit their local charitable outreach.

Julia Alt, president of ASID OC joins Jessica Jones, president elect at designers reception held at Baccarat.
Julia Alt, president of ASID OC joins Jessica Jones, president elect at designers reception held at Baccarat, South Coast Plaza.
(Courtesy of Dylan Lujano)

Newport super-philanthropists Julia and George Argyros seeded the charitable outreach of the Volunteer Assn. of Sherman Library & Gardens with a $25,000 donation to lead the way assisting the association raise an impressive $75,575 at the recent Newport Beach Garden Tour at Sherman Gardens. The outing was the 25th annual garden tour, thus the Argyros grant was in perfect harmony with the occasion.

Newport Beach Councilwoman Joy Brenner and Scott LaFleur, executive director of Sherman Gardens.
Newport Beach Councilwoman Joy Brenner and Scott LaFleur, executive director of Sherman Gardens at recent Summer Garden Party and Tour.
(Courtesy of Beverly Morgan)

Scott LaFleur, executive director of the Sherman Library & Gardens, was on hand to praise the Argyros family, the many additional significant donors. He also thanked the “members, volunteers, local merchants, and the community who have followed through with support for our children’s educational programs.”

“A highlight of the Aug. 28 Summer Garden Party was the Garden Party Hat Contest,” reports Beverly Morgan, venue manager for the library and gardens. “Forty-three garden party guests entered the Hat Contest. Judges were from Orange Coast Magazine and Recycled Rags, along with the South Coast Plaza’s Stylist Program. All of the creative and beautiful hats made for a truly festive atmosphere in the gardens.”

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