“I won her at an auction!” Exclaimed Leslee Feldman, casting director at Dreamworks to the guests at actress, Maria Bello’s birthday dinner party last week. I stood behind the marble counter in the open and welcoming home of Maria Bello and Clare Munn, preparing a spicy raw kale salad as I laughed at Leslee’s summary on how I ended up in their kitchen. I thought to myself, yeah, she did win me but, as it turns out, my server/assistant Kirt Brewer and I were the winners that night. We had an absolutely fantastic time.
Let me back up a bit here. You may remember reading about the silent auction that Nexgenstore very generously donated their entire line of kitchen products to plus four bottles of New Zealand wine and I pitched in a dinner for eight. The organization is Saving Spot. They rescue dogs from Los Angeles shelters and find forever homes for them. They have a star studded group of board members including Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi. Saving Spot’s founder, Lizzie Scherer is quite the dynamo and her mission to rescue our furry friends is as well-loved in Hollywood as she is. So it was Leslee Feldman that won the dinner that night and for that, I am grateful.
The atmosphere at the Bello/Munn home was so relaxed and accepting that Kirt and I immediately felt at home. We set about our preparation of Asian Marinated Salmon (the recipe is in my cookbook!), veggie nut quinoa, roasted broccolini, spicy raw kale salad and a fresh peach cobbler (peaches are just coming into the markets now!) As for the cobbler recipe, you’ll get that in an upcoming blog. The Masha is amazing when it comes to blending batter of all kinds.
As the guests arrived, they gathered outdoors in the beautiful, terraced back yard filled with giant, mature California, live oak trees and other assorted greenery that makes one feel hugged by nature. On the outdoor table, greeting the guests were a cheese and charcuterie board along with my often requested Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce (which were happily devoured in record time.)
Dinner was served family style. Each guest could take what they wanted and come back for more. The food was full of different flavors that somehow came together to complement each other. The guests were happy. The birthday girl was happy. It was an incredibly delightful night with family, friends, food, and fun – a winning kind of night for all. I got to feed new people, Saving Spot got more support for their dogs, Leslee got to share her win with a dear friend and Maria had a very happy birthday.