Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Project Open Hand's Dessert First Party: Extreme Cocktails and Desserts for a Good Cause

Project Open Hand executive director Tom Nolan (center) with the cupcake-hatted event promoters Yay! Sprinkles

Project Open Hand presented their tenth annual “Dessert First...A Decade of Delicious” gala at the InterContinental Hotel on August 15 and it was a doubly fine event. First there was the VIP Reception that featured some of San Francisco Bay Area’s best mixologists competing for the title of “Top Mixologist.” The party was a crush of trendy upscale gay men in groups and numerous opposite-sex couples, with some butch guys with tiny cupcake hats mixed in. Those were the Yay! Sprinkles guys who won this year’s outrageous Easter Tricycle Race that started and finished at CafĂ© Flore. Cocktails have been a major attraction of San Francisco since the Gold Rush, starting with such favorites as Pisco punch, and the well-dressed guests tightly squeezed around the drink creators before they voted.

Excellent music from the LiveWire band with their beautiful young women singers welcomed guests to the large reception in the hotel's grand ballroom. The event was a tribute to some of the Bay Area’s finest pastry chefs, and luxurious desserts were displayed on tables around the ballroom. The 16 chefs included Patti Dellamonica-Bauler of One Market Restaurant, Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake and Orson, Jessica Sullivan of Boulevard, and Terri Wu of Farralon.

A real treat for the chocolate lovers was a delicious confection with raspberries from The Claremont Hotel Club and Spa, and their executive chef Josh Thomsen and Janine were ready with a smile as people lined up around their table.

Chris Fentin, Jan Wahl, Ajay Herrejon and Tom Nolan

This year marks the 25th year of Project Open Hand, and there will be celebrations throughout 2010. A check of their website is a good idea. The organization was founded by grandmother Ruth Brinker because she realized that many people with AIDS were undernourished, and that it was a threat to their health. Project Open Hand has grown to be able to serve 2,600 meals a day to people who are in need.

Sponsors of Dessert First include the InterContinental Hotel, W&J Graham’s, Dow’s and Blandy’s port wines, Angove Family Winemakers, Blue Angel Vodka, Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur, DRY Soda, San Francisco Magazine, and the San Francisco Business Times. There was also a silent and live auctions, wines, cheeses, and hors d’oeuvres, and it was a very well-organized party with experienced and helpful staff and volunteers presenting a wondrous afternoon for the delighted guests.

Project Open Hand executive director Tom Nolan maneuvered himself through the vast sea of guests, greeting and welcoming happy diners, as did Angela Rauch and Jared Scherer. The only complaint that this journalist heard was a yearning for a past year’s splendid chicken salad sandwiches for guests who had skipped lunch.

Project Open Hand deserves congratulations for their pleasurable benefit as they enjoy the success of a quarter century of service to the San Francisco Bay Area.

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