By Andy J. Gordon
On a balmy summer evening in July, Paramount Studio’s “New York” back lot in Hollywood was the scene of the Concern Foundation’s Dancing in the Streets block party. The event was an over the top extravaganza with some of the best restaurants in the LA area serving samples, multiple stages of live entertainment, a casino area, and free flowing adult beverages. Nearly four thousand food, wine, and spirits enthusiasts enjoyed an evening of indulgence with an altruistic purpose. Over $1.5 mm dollars was raised for cancer research from ticket sales, silent, and live auctions.
It takes a seasoned professional to properly navigate the abundance of choices at an event like this. One has to move with agility to sidestep the endless horde of foodies that converge on the most popular booths. Your trusty reviewer was up to the challenge – armed with quick feet, a ravenous appetite, a nearly bottomless pit of a stomach, and a mission to sample virtually everything. There were a few standouts at the event, which is a major accomplishment given the top shelf nature of the offerings. Malo/Mas Malo (www.malorestaurant.com/) served a delicious ceviche with octopus, red snapper and shrimp. Factor’s Famous Deli (www.factorsdeli.com) carved some melt in your mouth corned beef. The Grill on the Alley (www.thegrill.com) provided a tasty Caesar salad and a dripping, delectable tri tip sandwich with a spicy horseradish sauce. Someone’s in the Kitchen (www.sitk.com) offered a variety of Thai sates and a creative noodle lollipop. California Sushi Academy (www.sushi-academy.com) had ultra fresh fish selections for the hand rolls that they skilfully made to order.
Among the dessert standouts were the chocolate chip cookies from Cookies for a Koz (www.cookiesforakoz.com) and the amazingly artistic creations from La Provence Patisserie & Cafe (www.laprovencecafe.com.) There were also ten fully stocked, hosted bars throughout the venue that featured Coca Cola products, Ventura Limoncello Co., Reed’s Ginger Brew products, Stockholm Krystal Vodka and plenty of coffee drinks from Pasquini Espresso Company and Weaver’s Coffee & Teas.
The entertainment focused on various styles of dance including Hula, Balinese and Street with costumed performers thrilling the crowd. At the casino area, guests were able to play table games with chips that could be turned into raffle tickets for a variety of prizes. The friendly dealers and croupiers were happy to explain the games to beginners. Some experienced gamblers got into the spirit of things with some boisterous wagering and cheering.
One of the things that made this year’s event so special was honoring 10 cancer survivors, many of whom have been involved with Concern Foundation over the years. Concern Foundation (www.concernfoundation.org) has raised over $45mm for cancer research and has awarded funds to over 600 promising cancer researchers throughout the United States and around the world. The non-profit, primarily volunteer organization currently funds 63 cancer research projects at leading institutions in the United States and abroad. Partnering with Concern this year was Los Angeles magazine (www.lamag.com,) helping the organization to raise awareness for their mission as well as to celebrate the magazine’s Best of LA August issue at the event. It was a highly successful evening as guests enjoyed the offerings from many of the Best of LA restaurants, and significant funds were raised for cancer research. Nothing beats a beautiful summer night of great food, entertainment, and the warm feeling of having contributed to a good cause. Everyone in attendance had a blast, and with the money raised, Concern Foundation moved a step closer to helping scientists cure the disease.
Photo courtesy of Andy J. Gordon and Brian Woods