Thursday, February 14, 2008

San Francisco Social Diary

City Hall view from the Opera House.
By Jeanne Lawrence


Legendary chef Alice Waters of Berkeley’s pioneering Chez Panisse was honored at the first ever Help Raise Healthy Children Gala for the cause.

Elegant Deborah Strobin chaired the event with honorary Chairs that included former President Bill Clinton and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Quite a luminary lineup.

Honoree Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Foundation
Two of music’s biggest talents came to perform at the event, composer and pianist Marvin Hamlisch, currently Principal Pops Conductor for the San Diego Symphony, and rising star Jennifer Hudson.

Deborah met Marvin through Broadway actor Lee Roy Reams – director of the event’s performances – and they hit it off so well that Marvin agreed to play gratis for the cause.

Hamlisch has composed more than 40 motion picture scores, winning an Oscar for The Way we Were and a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for the Broadway musical, A Chorus Line.

Jennifer Hudson also received an Academy Award for her portrayal of Effie in Dream Girls. Luckily, the up and comer paid little attention to Simon Cowell’s opinion of her on American Idol. The young gals in the audience were especially excited to see the TV celeb.

Hudson sang only three songs including Aretha Franklin’s Change is Gonna Come and Dream Girls’ I am Changing, leaving the audience with a longing for more.

A natural honoree, food activist and chef Alice Waters is credited with inventing California cuisine, emphasizing fresh, seasonal, organic and locally grown provisions at her Chez Panisse restaurant. She touted sustainability before it became fashionable and has probably received as much ink as the late chef Julia Childs.

In 1996, Alice founded the Berkeley public school’s Edible Schoolyard whose goal is to educate children about eating well. The students have a garden and even prepare their own meals. It’s been such a success, it is hoped to be a model for others.
Dinner in City Hall.
San Francisco City Hall rotunda.
It seems Alice’s daughter, Fanny Singer, is following in her mother’s foodsteps. While at Yale, she initiated the sustainable food project and today Yale has a vegetable garden too. Now at England’s Cambridge, perhaps Fanny and Prince Charles can join forces – the Prince of Wales has been promoting organic farming on his estate since the 1980s.

The Gala evening began with a scrumptious, black-tie dinner in the City Hall Rotunda. The Chez Panisse menu was catered by Paula LeDuc and the wine was generously donated by Trinchero Estates. As there was Monday Night Football competition, a few of the husbands opted out.

Now nutritious and gala food may seem like an oxymoron but it was a natural – all locally grown. Antipasti consisted of  winter vegetables vinaigrette, bocconcini with lemon and olio verde, prosciutto and garlicky greens, marinated tuna with pickled beets and coriander. The main course was a crispy duck with potato and turnip gratin and chicory salad and the yummy dessert was a chocolate and tangerine gateau glacé.
Marvin Hamlisch, Leroy Reams, Jennifer Hudson, and Deborah Strobin
With a menu like this, Deborah even convinced Hamlisch to dine. “After all, you don’t need to practice the piano; you can do it in your sleep,” she teased. By the way, Deborah looked delicious herself in a dress of her own design, executed by San Francisco fashion designer Lily Samii.

The Strobin family came in force to support: her brother Illie Wacs and his partner Susan Halpern from New York, and her son Mitch Strobin and his wife Cindy Strobin, and their daughter Alexis Strobin from North Carolina. 

The after-dinner performance took place in the War Memorial Opera House across the street. What a wonderful idea making the tickets more affordable: $50, $75, $100, so the community could enjoy the world-class entertainment.
Bouncing Bulldogs, Marvin and Jennifer take a bow.
Oh, yes, the program began with The Bouncing Bulldogs International Rope Skipping Team from Florida. It’s a youth fitness group that performs acrobatics while bouncing balls and jumping rope. No one knew Double Dutch could be so entertaining – Beijing 2008 should take notice. 

Later that week Alice flew to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, where she and Michael Pollan, author of best-seller In Defense of Food, will take their crusade global.
Sally Debenham and Reverend Warren Debenham
Jennifer Siebal
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
Sydnie Kohara and George Laplante
Sue and Dick Wollack
Cynthia Roy and Paul Garrison
Alex and Bob Leitstein
Jan Yanehiro
John and Judith Renard
Barbara Brown and Jennifer Raiser
Doug, Lisa, and Richard Goldman
Walter and Ellen Newman with Lisa and Robert Gallo
Caterer Paula Le Duc and Geoffrey Applegarth
OJ Shansby
Franc Harriss
Emerald Yeh
Ann Moller Caen
Norah Stone
Lots of press coverage
Liam Mayclem
Lee Munson and Merla Zellerbach
Katie Jarman with daughters Charlotte and Sarah and friend Hailey Leibson
David Berelson and Riva (in Vera Wang)
Mike Ghaffary, Tom Rikert, and Hooman of Alice @ 97.3

San Francisco philanthropist Pamela Joyner and her husband, Fred Giuffrida, threw a festive book party at their home in the exclusive enclave Presidio Terrace for Cathie Black in mid-January.

Often called The First Lady of American Magazines, Cathie has over forty years experience in publishing. For the last 12 years, she’s been President of Hearst Magazines, which includes Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, MarieClaire, Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Seventeen, Town & Country to name a few.
Hosts Regina and John Scully with Pamela Joyner and Fred Giuffrida
Now, she’s author of the best-seller, Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life). Love the play on words in the title. Cathie offers a wealth of insight and practical information based on her own experience working her way to the top of the ladder.

Others co-hosts for the party were Dr. Robert Harvey, a Nob Hill Plastic Surgeon; Dwell President and Publisher Michela O’Connor Abrams; philanthropists Regina Kulik Scully and John Scully; and Phil Bronstein, then the Editor of The San Francisco Chronicle.
At the home of Joyner and Giuffrida for a party for Cathie Black's 'Basic Black'
One week later, Phil announced that he was leaving this position to take on another role with Hearst Corp., which incidentally owns The Chronicle. Some years ago, Bronstein made headlines of his own with his five-year marriage to actress Sharon Stone. I guess Basic Instinct only lasts for so long. After the book launch, Cathie was off to a City Arts & Lectures where political commentator, Arianna Huffington and Black had a Q & A session. Huffington, the assertive multi-published author, is also behind the news blog, The Huffington Post. With two powerhouses sharing the stage, it was an extremely enlightening evening.
Cathie Black and Arianna Huffington
Lotte Moore, Jennifer Seibel, Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Charles Moore
Cathie Black
Regina Scully
Ann Getty
Pamela Baer
Betsey Linder and Karen Caldwell
Pam Joyner

Host Clara Shayevich with designer Orlando Diaz
Latvian beauty Clara Shayevich and 50 of her nearest and dearest lit up the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Nob Hill on an otherwise dull January day, all celebrating at her holiday luncheon.

The guest list read like a miniature United Nations with representatives from around the world: Afghanis, Iranians, Chinese, Cubans, Lebanese, Italians, Central Americans, South Americans, New Yorkers and some good old Americans too. We all know New Yorkers are a breed unto themselves.

“I moved my annual party to January,” explained Clara. “Everyone’s back in town after the holidays and a perfect way to start the New Year with fine champagne and good friends.”

Pure cosmopolitan, Clara adores fashion and glamorous clothes, and was nominated one of the best dressed women in the city by the Nob Hill Gazette, the must-read local society rag.
Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
But that day no one could guess who designed her tailored suit – finally she admitted, “Roberto Cavalli.” Who knew he designed for anyone other than movie and rock stars?

The exotic beauty stands out at many black-tie soirées. Utterly feminine and elegantly attired, Clara catches the eye of many men.

But she leaves them speechless, and just a bit flustered, when she tells them she’s a sex therapist! Way to go, Clara.
Sallie Huntting
Cathy MacNaughton
Pamala Deikel
Robert Atkinson
Joel Goodrich, Jeanne Lawrence, and Barbara Brookin-Schneider
Lucretia Carney, Jorge Maumer, and Melody Johnson

Photographs by Tom Gibbons, Jeanne Lawrence, & Jonathan Costello.