Plans for L.A. Phil season-opening gala begin with food tastings
"We have Gustavo and Gershwin, and Herbie Hancock too -- what could be better than that?" said Joan Hotchkis, co-chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's annual gala, happening Sept. 27 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Hotchkis was referring to the season-opening concert, which will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel with Herbie Hancock on the piano. On the program: Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture,” “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris.” But for Hotchkis, there's more to the evening: the dinner that will follow for donors who pay $2,500 to $15,000 for tickets to the gala. (Tickets without the dinner run $98 to $255.)
A gourmet meal and dancing will follow the concert in an adjacent tent styled to resemble a 1940s supper club, with banquettes, damask accessories and other period touches, according to event planner Gai Klass. To ensure the menu befits the occasion, the event committee met Thursday at Disney's Founders Room to review possible contenders for the hors d'oeuvres, appetizer, main course and dessert.
The tasting began with six hors d’oeuvres, from which four would be chosen. As flavorful as the samples seemed, however, decisions had to be based upon practicality. Gone were the lobster wontons for fear their sauce might drip on a dress; next the Hoisin duck spring rolls, delicious though they were, disappeared because they would take too many bites for guests holding a glass of wine.
Gwen Strong, the L.A. Phil's senior manager of special events, assured the committee that guests could request substitutions, beforehand or during the event, "It can be done easily, even on the fly," she said. Rob Carson of Patina agreed, saying, "That's culinary speak for 'right away.' "
"We want to please everyone," said Hotchkis. "That's why we do a run-through."
-- Ellen Olivier
Photo: Chef Andreas Roller, left, and Rob Carson, both of Patina Catering, serve gala committee members, from left, Ginny Mancini, Lenore Greenberg and Ann Ronus. Credit: Ellen Olivier