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The Crowd: Foodies take in special events, offer toasts to O.C.'s newest Michelin star winner

Laurent and Sophie Vrignaud, Anton Segerstrom attend Knife Pleat reception at South Coast Plaza.
Laurent and Sophie Vrignaud, Anton Segerstrom attend the Knife Pleat recognition cocktail reception at South Coast Plaza on Oct. 6 after the restaurant learned it had won a coveted Michelin star.
(Courtesy of Brian Feinzimer)

The Michelin Star was recently bestowed upon Knife Pleat, capturing the attention of foodies in the O.C. and far beyond its borders. The French dining room that opened in 2019, just pre-pandemic, on the Penthouse Level at South Coast Plaza is described as very chic but approachable in the genre of French cuisine.

Knife Pleat’s restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi and chef Tony Esnault invited the culinary and very social crowd to a celebration reception Oct. 6. Moet Hennessey Champagne flowed as guests toasted the Michelin Star with Veuve Cliquot Vintage Rose 2012. Raising a glass or two were Wahoo’s Ed Lee, celeb chef Jamie Gwen, the dapper Michael Botsko of Tiffany & Co., Laurent and Sophie Vrignaud proprietors of Moulin, set to debut in this season at South Coast Plaza, Skip Stephenson and Jason Poulsen.

Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom, Tony Esnault, Yassmin Sarmadi at the Michelin Star reception held at Knife Pleat.
Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom, Tony Esnault, Yassmin Sarmadi at the Michelin Star reception held at Knife Pleat, Costa Mesa.
(Courtesy of Brian Feinzimer)

Front and center revelers also included food columnist Lana Sills, Debra Gunn Downing, Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom for SCP, and from the incredible new Orange County Museum of Art, its chief executive Heidi Zuckerman.

Fall dining seems to be a theme of this Saturday’s Crowd. The Festival of OC Chefs, benefiting KidWorks, Santa Ana unfolded Oct. 3 at the Newport Beach Country Club. The dining extravaganza attracted 25 area chefs serving 425 guests. The huge turnout mingled sampling the fare, then entered a white party tent to be seated for dessert and the program.

Honorary Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales of Nirvana Grille in Laguna Beach, center, with event co-chairs.
Honorary Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales of Nirvana Grille in Laguna Beach, center, with event co-chairs, from left, David and Kyle Team, Lisa and Cory Alder, and Tracy and Kevin Murphy at Newport Beach Country Club event benefiting KidWorks, Santa Ana.
(Courtesy of Tony Lattimore)

KidWorks board member Cory Alder with wife Lisa co-chaired the evening joining chef event chair Pascal Olhats. Working with Olhats on the dinner were Dawn Marie Kotsonis and Lindsay Smith-Rosales, who was recently featured on the Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Eleanor Kay Tang, and Ethan and Nina Kay at KidWorks event in Newport Beach at Newport Beach Country Club.
Presenting sponsor, the Kay Family Foundation, was recognized for its ongoing support. It was represented by Eleanor Kay Tang, and Ethan and Nina Kay at KidWorks event in Newport Beach.
(Courtesy of Tony Lattimore)

Making the dinner a financial win for kids served by KidWorks were sponsors Kay Family Foundation and the David A Pyle Family. Donors in the crowd included Natalie and Todd Pickup, Bob Parsons, Mona Lee Nesseth, Tracy and Kevin Murphy, Kyle and David Team, among many others. KidWorks’ chief executive David Benevides proudly accepted more than $640,000 in proceeds from the event.

From great food to great music, the Hutchins Consort produced “Blues by the Bay” Sept. 26 at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona del Mar. The night of contemporary jazz was fronted by talented vocalist Mara Kaye with the Hutchins Consort Band led by artistic director Joe McNalley. Some 100 guests were enchanted by Kaye, demanding more music in the multiple standing O’s.

Tim and Joe McNalley and vocalist Mara Kaye at Hutchins Consort dinner held at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.
Tim and Joe McNalley and vocalist Mara Kaye at Hutchins Consort dinner held at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, Corona del Mar.
(Courtesy of Ann Chatillon)

Relishing the intimate jazz evening were Tommy and Julie Phillips, David and Darrellyn Melilli, Dr. Nick and Sue Alexopoulos, the super charming couple Dr. Vahe and Armine Meghrouni, Sharon McNalley, matriarch of the consort, Jan Landstrom, Bobbitt Williams, and Dr. Robert and Ruth Ann Burns.

The Hutchins Consort is the only professional ensemble in the world performing on an octet of acoustically matched violins. Proceeds of $36,000 from the evening will support the Consort’s Educational Outreach programs.

Sharon McNalley, Tommy and Julie Phillips, major sponsors of Hutchins Consort attend recent dinner fundraiser.
Sharon McNalley, Tommy and Julie Phillips, major sponsors of Hutchins Consort attend recent dinner fundraiser at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.
(Courtesy of Ann Chatillon)

Finally, from food to music on to art and design. The Newport Beach based Decorative Arts Society (DARTS) announced its 2021-22 speaker series. The annual schedule of lectures kicked off Oct. 12, welcoming New York City decorator Ashley Whittaker, author of “The Well-Loved House.” The “neo-traditionalist” decorator shared her design philosophy with a sold-out crowd attending her address at the Regal Edwards Big Newport Theatre.

On hand to greet the crowd was DARTS president Laraine Eggleston. Funds raised through the lecture series benefit local charities. DARTS has granted more than $3 million to women’s, families, and children’s causes in the O.C. since its inception some 25 years ago. Future events will unfold in November, then in February, March, April and May. To learn more visit decorativeartssociety.net.

The Orange County Museum of Art is making lots of noise in the art world. Their new building, the jewel of Orange County, held a “hard hat” tour on Oct. 5, guiding guests on a site walk with Heidi Zuckerman joining architect Brandon Welling, Morphosis Partner-in-Charge of the design and construction, as narrators of the exclusive peek. This was a first look at the inspiring architectural achievement of Pritzker Prize winning architects Thom Mayne and Welling. Post tour, the crowd were treated to lunch. The completion and grand opening is planned for October 2022.

On the day of the tour it was announced by Zuckerman that a major $2.5-million donation by the Newport Beach based jewelry firm Lugano Diamonds is earmarked for providing free admission to the new museum’s first decade. That’s what is called a gift to the entire community.

Stay tuned; coverage of the recent museum gala will be featured in The Crowd on Oct. 30.

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