Wednesday, June 6, 2012

San Francisco Social Diary

The Bay Area American Red Cross celebrated at Union Square. The ladies were so fetching in their red gowns—the traditional choice for this event.
by Jeanne Lawrence

SAN FRANCISCO –– Everyone was seeing red (or wearing it!) at the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter Gala to fund disaster readiness and response efforts.

Some 580 guests, men in black tie and women in red gowns, as custom demands, partied in a clear tent under the stars. Co-chaired by Susan Atherton and Gwyneth Borden, the event put $615,000 into the organization’s coffers.

Joseph Saunders, Chairman and CEO of Visa Inc., was honored as the CEO Humanitarian of the Year.
In recent years, the event has been held in a tent in Union Square, the heart of the city.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, former Mayor Willie Brown, and Bay Area police and fire chiefs came to show support. It was back to business early for some volunteers and staffers, who were called away to respond to a 3-alarm fire elsewhere.

With the global presence of the Red Cross, this is one event in the city that brings out the many Consuls General and Honorary Consuls based here—representing Mexico, France, Singapore, India, Monaco, Mauritius, Nicaragua, and Hungary, among others.
Raghu Shivaram and Harry Denton mingle with a pair of San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders.
Agustina Sinambela, Asianto Sinambela, Mayor Ed Lee, Susan Somaya, and Jitu Somaya.
Nick Goldenson, Ye-Hui Lu, Jeanne Lawrence, and Roberta Economidis.
Hiroshi Inomata, Midori Inomata, Carolyn Lee, Bill Lee, and Rebecca Rottman.
Harold Brooks, Kaitlin Mulderig, Lillian Phan, and Jacob Lewinter.
Paul Weaver and Theo Taft Schwabacher.
Chris Kennelly, Julia Vasic, Lillian Phan, Jacob Lewinter, and Kelly Murphy.
Lillian Phan, Kirsten Strobel, and Catherine Wong. Paul Weaver and Theo Taft Schwabacher.
Reanne Anderson, Ashley De Smeth, Catherine Wong, Hooman Khalili, Kathryn Inglin, and Jacqueline Hawk.
Laura Serman and Romain Serman, French Consul. Eric Hankinson and Krista Mitzel Hankinson.
Honoree Joseph Saunders, co-chair Gwyneth Borden, co-chair Susan Atherton, and Harold Brooks.
For anyone tired of the usual crowded charity events and the same salmon or chicken entrée, Zootopia  (benefitting the San Francisco Zoo) was just the ticket!

Yes, it was still a fundraiser, but it had the feel of a private dinner party where you and your best friends enjoyed the finest food and drink. The evening honored Tad and Dianne Taube for their many charitable contributions. The tireless couple seems to support every event in town!
The venue for the Zootopia fundraiser was Spruce, a clubby watering hole for the smart set of all ages. The restaurant was just what the Presidio Heights neighborhood needed: fine dining without having to drive downtown.
Chaired by Michelle Molfino and Lisa Keith, the dinner was held at Spruce, a restaurant in the upscale Presidio Heights area.

Known for his contemporary cuisine, Chef Mark Sullivan created a memorable four-course dinner paired with wines from lead wine sponsor Husic Vineyards. The ingriedents were top-quality and organic, and the wine list was huge; after all, Napa and Sonoma are just an hour away.
The view from Spruce restaurant of the Presidio Heights neighborhood.
With just 70 seats, Spruce is intimate and inviting. It offers comfy leather chairs, warm, chocolate-colored mohair walls, and a sound level that actually permits conversation.
In addition to private dining rooms, Spruce also has a lively bar scene (and a bar menu). Dining there one night, I was amazed to see how many men were in sports jackets—not the norm in San Francisco.
Honorees Tad and Dianne Taube. Ken Freeman (of Freeman Vineyards, one of the sponsors) and Susan McAndrews of Pantheon Ventures.
Chair Lisa Keith, Director of SF Zoo Tanya Peterson, and Chair Michelle Molfino.
Lori Shigekane and Mary Fenton. Fred and Michelle Molfino.
Daru Kawalkowski, Michelle Molfino, and musician Freddie Clark, who also entertained at last year's Zootopia.
Bill and Laurie Grayson. Bob and Charley Zeches.
Mindy Henderson, Bill Grayson, Alison Carlson, and Alison Mauze.
Another private dining room.
Given a choice of Moroccan Spiced Chicken, Pacific Sablefish, or Slow Roasted Beef Short Ribs, most of the men opted for the red meat.
The goody bags sent home with us included wine, of course.

I was glad to be in town when my friend, Tony Award-winning New York producer Francine LeFrak, came in from New York.

She was here for an event Susan Dunlevy and Julie Bell hosted at their home—“Ethical Shopping and Cocktails”—to honor Francine and Same Sky, the charity she founded.

Francine began Same Sky after traveling to Rwanda for a documentary and witnessing the devastation of the 1994 genocide. More than 500,000 people were killed and 250,000 women raped in a 100-day period.
Susan Dunlevy co-hosted a reception at her home in Presidio Heights. The area offers one of San Francisco's great attractions, beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
One of the difficulties in wearing high heels in San Francisco is that you have hills like this to maneuver.
Passionate about helping, Francine began Same Sky to empower women to rebuild their lives and communities. She wanted to give them “a hand up instead of a handout”—to teach them entrepreneurial skills so they could work and support themselves and their families.

The women of Rwanda are fortunate to have such a powerful and committed spokesperson. Same Sky bracelets can be purchased at
Susan Dunlevy, Francine LeFrak, and Julie Bell. Susan and Julie hosted an "Ethical Shopping and Cocktails" reception to benefit Francine's charity, Same Sky. Francine LeFrak's message is "All women are in this together, owning our power, all living under the same sky .... With a purchase of a bracelet, you become fashionable, socially mindful, and part of the powerful circle connecting women everywhere."
Kate Harbin and Therese Post. Angelique Griepp and Pamela Joyner.
Allison Speer, Margo Simons, and Brenda Jewett.
Bonnie Levinson, Regina Scully, Francine LeFrak, and Jeanne Lawrence.
Christine Aylward, Mindy Henderson, Tanya Peterson, and Susan Dunlevy.
Of the women who survived Rwanda's 1994 genocide, 70 percent are HIV-infected, and the majority were left destitute because their husbands, brothers, and sons were murdered. Same Sky's mission is to help them make a living as artisans.
Women are trained to create intricately crocheted bead necklaces and bracelets in vibrant hues that are stylish, timeless, and extremely wearable. The beads are hand-blown by two women artisans in California, then shipped to Rwanda.
A bevy of guests snatched up the necklaces and popped the bracelets onto their arms.
Julie Bell presented us with goody bags filled with delightful and useful items from Benefit, the San Francisco-based cosmetics company.

A friend from Shanghai, William Hanbury-Tenison, recently passed through San Francisco. Born in England, he has lived on and off in Asia for nearly 30 years and in Shanghai for the last 15.

Eton grad William is a fine arts agent who advises and represents private and institutional collectors. Returning from the annual Asia Week in New York, he was visiting clients and friends and checking out the art market, galleries, and museums here and in Los Angeles.

He hosted a lunch party that, in addition to me, included Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum; Abby Chen, curator and deputy director of the Chinese Culture Foundation; Louise Chu, associate curator of Ancient Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and Bruce and Terese Bartholomew, former AAM curator of Himalayan and Chinese decorative art.
Yank Sing Restaurant, a wonderful spot for traditional Chinese dim sum.
Considering our mutual interests, it was remarkable that all of us had not met previously.

We enjoyed the popular dim sum brunch at the Spear Street branch of Yank Sing restaurant, which to my surprise was packed with locals and tourists, many in family groups. We gave it a thumbs up.

The knowledgeable group shared the names of the Chinese restaurants they consider the best in town. Can’t wait to try them all out and report on them—so keep reading here if you want to know the dining hotspots in San Francisco.
Louise Chu and William Hanbury-Tenison.
Terese Bartholomew, Abby Chen, and Jay Xu.
Abby Chen, Jay Xu, and Jeanne Lawrence.

If I'm in town, I never miss the annual Marin Designers Showcase, in which some of the Bay Area's best interior designers and artists showcase their talent in one house. It's a great reason to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge and spend an afternoon in Marin County, where the weather is always warmer than in San Francisco.

Villa Belvedere was the house chosen for this year, the 41st anniversary of the event. It's a new mansion on Belvedere Island, the exclusive family community in Marin County that's a 20-minute drive from the city (if traffic allows).
View of the Golden Gate Bridge.
View of San Francisco.
The mansion commands one of Marin's best locations, and each room is designed to take advantage of spectacular 360-degree views of San Francisco, Treasure Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Tiburon.

When you visit this glorious 14,000-square foot triplex, you understand why people who have the means to live anywhere choose to live here.

What a spectacular venue—and what an opportunity for all of us to glean an idea or two!
The entrance to the Villa Belvedere showcase.
Living Room, designed by Suzanne Tucker.
Family room, designed by David Kensington.
Master bedroom, designed by Gioi Tran.
Another inviting bedroom.
How many people have a view like this from their bathtub?
The expansive deck.
A view from Villa Belvedere.
Linda Zider.
Jeanne Lawrence.
A view of Sausalito, the former fishing village and now a picturesque waterfront community and tourist draw.
Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence and Drew Altizer.

*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.