Eat, drink, and be…Simply diVine!


By Greg Hernandez

A crowd of more than 1,700 joined more than 80 restaurants, wineries, spirit vendors, distilleries, and craft breweries for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 14th annual Simply divine benefit on April 27 at iconic Hollywood Forever.

“We are so proud to be here,” said Edie Ames, owner of The Pie Hole restaurants, as she arranged an assortment of Nutella, raspberry, Mexican chocolate, caramel apple and other “two bite sweet treats” for attendees.  “It’s a perfect fit for who we are and what we do. We have a lot of LGBT staff and we absolutely love the community.”

Michael Cimarusti, owner of Connie & Ted’s restaurant in West Hollywood, was proud to be participating in Simply diVine for the third year.

“I think what the Center does is just incredible and I’m proud to be a part of it in some small way,” Cimarusti said.

“The food has been incredible, lots of selection,” said first-time attendee Calvin Lam. “I really appreciate that something like this could be put on to support the Center. It’s great to see the diverse collection of people who are here.”

Kari Rennie and Lesslie Henderson, best friends during their college years, decided to get together and chose Simply diVine for their reunion.

“We’re both mothers and preoccupied so this is our girls night out,” Rennie said. “We are very familiar with the Center and we love supporting all they have to offer.”

Married couple Kit Williamson and John Halbach, stars and producers of the Emmy-nominated web series EastSiders, said they wanted to show their support of the Center.

“There’s no other non-profit providing the breadth of services that the Center does,” Williamson said. “It’s a vital part of our community in Los Angeles and I cannot imagine our city without it.”

Added Halbach: “We’re lucky to live in L.A. and have an organization like this for our people.”

This year’s restaurant and food partners also included: BADMAASH; Bestia; The Black Cat; Border Grill; Bourbon Steak; Braise and Crumble Café; Burgerim; Cassells; Chef Michelle and Company; Crossroads Kitchen; CUT by Wolfgang Puck; Da Kikokiko; Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt; Gracias Madre; Gwen; hinoki and the bird restaurant; Hock+Hoof; Holbox; Huntington Dining; Ike’s Love & Sandwiches; Jaffa; JAR; Kismet; Kreation Organic; The Lobster; Lovely Eats; Lucques; Mrs. Fish; My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream; Nomad Ice Pops; Otium; PARKSBBQ; Petrossian Restaurant & Boutique; Pizzeria il Fico; Rao’s Hollywood; Röckenwagner Bakery; Rossoblu; Salazar; Salt’s Cure; The Sycamore Kitchen; Tartine Bianco; and The Village Idiot.

This year’s beverage partners included: Ambros Banana Whiskey; Angel City Brewery; Angelisco Tequila; Blue Bottle Caffee; The Boisset Collection; Brown-Forman; Chareau; Classic Wines of California; Cutwater Spirits; Epic Wine & Spirits; Hop Valley Brewing; House Wine; Infinium Spirits; J. LOHR Vineyards & Wines; Jardesca California Aperitiva; Kikori Whiskey; Lagunitas Brewing Company; Le Grand Courtage; Middlebar; Mulholland Distilling; Obvious Wines; Planet Wine / Atlas Wine; PRP Wine International; Recover 180; Rutherford Wine Company; San Antonio Winery; Satori Brands; Scharffenberger Brut; Seedlip Drinks; Stella Rosa Wines; Stolen Spirits; Tequila Partida; Tito’s Handmade Vodka; Turquoise Life; Winebow; Wooler Brands, Inc.; and Zonin Prosecco.

Sous Chef sponsors were Hollywood Forever and Wells Fargo; Sommelier sponsors were American Airlines, Bank of America, Comcast NBCUniversal, David Bohnett Foundation, RideYellow, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka; Pastry Chef sponsors were Blue Bottle Coffee, EndemolShine North America, Gilead, and Keller Williams Beverly Hills; In-kind sponsors were Acqua Panna, Angel City Brewery, Jersey Mike’s, Perrier® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, and San Pellegrino. Media sponsors were Gayety, iHeart Media, and The Fight Magazine.

Simply diVine co-chairs were celebrity chef Susan Feniger and David Bailey of HGTV’s Selling L.A. and Keller Williams Beverly Hills. Both also serves on the Center’s Board of Directors. Laurie Deddens, beverage steward at Pavilions West Hollywood, was also co-chair and Jory Burton from Sotheby’s International Realty was Host Committee Chair.

Music and entertainment were provided by Emi Secrest and DJ SACCS.

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