By Greg Hernandez
A record-breaking crowd of more than 1,700 LGBT people and their allies ate and drank the night away at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Simply diVine on March 24.
The popular food and wine event benefitting the Center was held at iconic Hollywood Forever for the first time and featured more than 70 booths representing L.A.’s most popular food and drink destinations.
“Every year it seems to be getting better and better and this is a great new location,” David Cooley, owner of The Abbey and Chapel at the Abbey, said as he poured drinks for guests at the event’s CLUB VIP lounge.
Among the tasty offerings were oysters and clams from Connie & Ted’s, grilled lamb skewers from Tavern, pizza from Ray & Stark Bar, mini steak and salmon burgers from Café D’Etoile, and butterscotch pudding from Jar.
“The energy’s always so great and the people are wonderful,” Border Grill co-owner Mary Sue Milliken said as she served pupusas to guests. “Everyone’s happy and we’re raising money for the Center which does the most incredible work on Earth.”
Beau Bridges was attending Simply diVine for the first time and the three-time Emmy award-winning actor said the food and drinks were not the only reason why he had such a good time.
“My favorite thing here is the people,” Bridges said. “I’m always in support of people who are LGBT and are fighting for equality. I think that’s the way we should roll.”
Also in attendance was actress Donna Pescow, best known for the TV series Angie and for the iconic film Saturday Night Fever.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Pescow said. “I’m a tremendous supporter of the Los Angeles LGBT Center which does the most amazing work for the greatest community. I know about the really amazing work the Center does and I’m so proud to be here.”
Louise Harding, co-owner of Hollywood Hot Hot Sauce, said she was surprised when the event was moved to Hollywood Forever after being held in recent years across the street from the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza. That is now the site where the Center is building the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, which will bring together a multitude of youth and senior services and housing in a unified campus setting.
“I wondered why it wasn’t at the same place as last year and then I found out it’s because they are building an incredible place for youth and seniors,” Harding said. “It kind of brought tears to my eyes. We are big supporters of the Center and want to do as much as possible.”
Other food partners were Astro Fried Chicken and Waffles, Ayara Thai Cuisine, The Black Cat, Black Market Liquor, Celestino Drago Catering & Special Events, Commissary, Coolhaus, Craft, Gracias Madre, Hamasuku, Hinoki & the Bird, Holbox/Chichen Itza, Huntington Hospitality, Kismit, Larder Baking Co., Melody, Milk Bar, Odys + Penelope, Pizzeria iL Fico, The Ponte, Rao’s Hollywood, Rossoblu, Salt & Straw, Shake Shack, Small Batch, Spartina, Suga Brown Pasteries, and The Village Idiot.
Beverage partners were The Assembly, Blue Bottle Coffee, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Brown-Forman, Brown-Forman, Chareau, Classic Wines of CA, Common Cider, Concurrent Wines, Cutwater Spirits, Edrington Americas, EG Wine Co., Epic Wines and Spirits, Golden Road Brewing, Health-Ade Kombucha, Henry Wine Group, Jardesca, JFC International, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wine, Kikori Whiskey, Le Grand Courtage, Middlebar, Mosiac Wine Alliance, Mulholland Distilling, Nosotros Tequila, Oak Ridge Winery, Pacific Wine and Spirits, Palm Bay, Pavilions, Planet Wine, Q Drinks, Reorderlig Cider, Riboli Family Wines, Santa Monica Brew Works, Sapporo, SelvaRey Rum, Starbucks, Tequila Herradura, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Treasury Wine Estates, and Youngs Market Company.
Simply diVine’s Sous Chef sponsors were Hollywood Forever and Wells Fargo; Sommelier sponsors were American Airlines, RideYellow, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka; Pastry Chef sponsors were Endemol Shine North America, Keller Williams Beverly Hills, and Sysco; In-kind sponsors were Aqua Panna, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, and Perrier® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.
The event’s co-chairs were celebrity chef Susan Feniger, David Bailey of HGTV’s Selling L.A. and Laurie Deddens, beverage steward at Pavilions West Hollywood. Jory Burton from Sotheby’s International was Host Committee Chair.
Entertainment was provided for CLUB VIP guests by the Rachel Sorso Band and at the main event by DJ Young Wags.