Taste for a Cure celebrates more than 2 decades of innovation for UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation
Inside the ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Wilshire, famed chef and restauranteur Helene An is running a tight ship to make sure tiny takeout boxes of her glorified garlic noodles are filled to the brim and that wine glasses are poured to perfection.
As the Taste for a Cure’s master curator, the acclaimed matriarch of the An family restaurants, which includes Crustacean Beverly Hills, has arranged a veritable eating trek during the cocktail hour of the 24th annual fundraiser to raise valuable funds for the leading-edge cancer research at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC).
Consistently ranked among the top ten culinary events in Southern California, Taste for a Cure convenes the city’s thought leaders, change makers, and food and entertainment communities for one night to celebrate Los Angeles’ sensational culinary scene while bringing awareness to the very important work the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) is doing to provide the best in experimental and traditional cancer treatments, expertly guiding the next generation of medical researchers.
This year’s theme was “A Culinary Journey through Asia,” and featured 35 tastings from some of Asia’s most exciting vinters, wineries and distillers, as well as a sumptuous array of dishes from some of Los Angeles’ top Asian and Asian-influenced chefs and restaurants.
The event, which was hosted by Soledad O’Brien, an award-winning journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist, was attended by “Mad Men” actor Bryan Batt and the show’s costume designer Janie Bryant, “Orange is the New Black” actress Rebecca Knox, and “Survivor” contestant Michael Yerger
Champions of change
This year, Sandra Stern, president of Lionsgate’s Television Group, was honored with the Gil Nickel Humanitarian Award for her humanitarian efforts, community involvement and commitment to philanthropy. Her accomplishments include helping guide Lionsgate’s business to record-breaking revenue growth; serving on the Board of the Saban Clinic and Center Theatre Group and being active in the Rape Treatment Center; and being named “Multichannel News Wonder Woman of the Year.”
The Gil Nickel Humanitarian Award was created in memory of Gil Nickel, proprietor of Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel and Dolce wineries, who lost a courageous battle against melanoma in October 2003. Sandra joins previous honorees that include: Dana Walden, Eric Shanks, Gary Newman, Kevin Reilly, Jay Sures, Jennifer Salke, Joe Cohen, Paul Telegdy, Scooter Braun and Yael Braun.
Sandra was presented the award by her longtime Lionsgate colleague and mentee, Brian Tannenbaum, who heads up Quibi’s alternative programming content.
Legendary UCLA gymnastics coach, Valorie Kondos Field, also took to the stage to speak about her own 2014 breast cancer diagnosis and how JCCC dramatically increased her survival odds through a groundbreaking chemotherapy treatment developed at the center.
Setting the mood
Entering an opulent ballroom setting glistening from hues and sounds of the Far East, guests enjoyed a myriad of bites and libations from acclaimed Los Angeles restaurants. The lively social hour included: Korean short rib dumplings from AnQi; crab friend rice from Dan Modern Chinse; steamed bao buns from Hinoki and the Bird; yellowtail tuna namerou from Blackship; and Chinese pancakes from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
During the program, guests were treated to a second culinary experience at the seated dinner that included exotic plum wine and Asian-inspired fare and decadent dessert.
A vibrant auction was also held during the giving portion of the event where guests had the opportunity to bid on unique experience a Four Seasons Hawaiian vacation package, a getaway to New York, and a VIP experience at an LA Dodgers home game.
OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder closed out the evening with an acoustic performance of several of the hit songs he’s created, including “Counting Stars," "Apologize" and guitar version of Beyonce’s “Halo” and the Jonas Brothers' "Sucker," which he produced.
Founded in 1945, the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation (JCCF) is the single most important vehicle for raising private funds for cancer research at UCLA. It supports a number of high priority cancer research efforts, focused on converting laboratory discoveries into more effective therapies for cancer patients. The UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s (JCCC) dedicated researchers are recognized as international leaders in the discovery of new and better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. In the past four years alone JCCC research has led to 11 FDA approvals for new cancer treatments.