The Valley Line: 'Pasadena to Paris' gets Three Waiters

Sultan, the cat who adopted the staff at the Pasadena Museum of History, welcomed the formally-dressed guests to the museum’s “Pasadena to Paris” benefit, which raised $105,000 in support of the museum’s educational programs on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Sultan, who has tuxedo shirt-front markings, is always ready for a party. He has a devoted group of children who come to the museum just to visit him.

It was evident from the fashions of the elegantly gowned women and tuxedo-clad men that they were loving Paris, the city of light, and la joie de vivre of the French style. The guests carefully perused the silent-auction tables that offered beautiful treasures, enticing get-aways, fabulous restaurant certificates, notable wines, and not-to-be-missed sporting memorabilia and events.

Fran Shellgren created a French-inspired buzz with the clever necklace she created for herself from wine corks, ribbons, and beads. Her husband, Don, explained that the corks were from bottles of French wines, many of them excellent vintages they had consumed in the 1960’s. Fran and Don are committed museum patrons and Fran was part of the benefit committee that was chaired by Jim Watterson, who was last year’s honoree.

Also sharing her expertise with the party committee was La Cañadan Wendy Funkhouser, who is a museum trustee. Other La Cañadans dining at her table were Jim Williams, Case Cortese and Marijane Hebert.

In between bidding on silent-auction items, chatting with friends and sipping the evening’s signature cucumber martini drink, guests were having their photos taken with Commedia dell’Arte characters Pierrot and Harlequin, who delighted in posing them within a gilded and embellished frame.

When the dinner gong sounded, party-goers meandered down the wooded pathway that borders the museum’s Feynes estate to the dining area and tables, covered in iridescent, shimmering orange cloths and bouquets of white roses. Especially lovely were the delicately etched crystal glasses that reminded me of those I had once seen in an antique shop in the Île Saint Louis neighborhood in Paris.

Dinner was prepared by Chef Joachim Splichal of the Patina Restaurant Group. It began with a heritage tomato salad, progressed to the savory entrée of Short Rib Grand Mere and finished with a divine dessert of charlotte of fresh summer peaches with rosemary coulis.

Jane and Dan Armel, and Peggy and Bruce Stewart, along with Wells Fargo & Co., were honorees for the evening, joining an elite roster of individuals and organizations so honored with the “A Contemporary History Maker” award that was established in 2000.

Introducing the evening’s proceedings was Jeanette O'Malley, museum director. Later in the evening I had a nice chat with La Cañada resident John Battz, vice president of the museum’s board of trustees and officers and his lovely wife, Helen, who was looking strikingly colorful in her jewel-toned blouse.

Entertainment for the evening had a surprise beginning when two waiters began arguing whether French or Italian cuisine was better. A third waiter joined the argument and then, to our amazement, they became our very own three tenors. They even encouraged the formally dressed guests to loosen up by waving their napkins in the air, a la Pavarotti. That was quite a sight. It was such a fun portion of the evening. The singers have well trained voices and are called the Three Waiters.

It was a delightful and successful evening for all. Sultan, the attentive host cat, wished the departing guests au revoir — until we meet again.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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