In 2011, we developed a fundraising concept for Livestrong Foundation that was a lot of fun to produce. We called it the Celebrity Chef Dinner Series. First, we found a donor that was willing to host a dinner at their home. Next, we found celebrity chef that was willing to create and prepare the menu. Lance has great relationships with some amazing chefs, so they were more than willing to be involved, which made that ask easy.
We kept the guest list of prospective donors under 30 people. Craven + Co. came in and planned everything to make the dinners run smoothly, so that the host didn’t have to worry about any of the details. We were grateful that they had opened their home and invited people they thought would be inspired by the Livestrong mission.
This one was in Aspen, Colorado. Michael Goldberg, owner of Belly Up Aspen, offered the use of his home. Our chef was renowned celebrity chef and restauranteur, Wolfgang Puck. I think Wolfgang was a celebrity chef before we even had the term "celebrity chef." He brought his amazing staff from Spago in Beaver Creek. They took over the kitchen and blew the guests away.
I worked closely with Wolfgang’s right hand man, Tom Kaplan. He has been working with Wolfgang for 34 years now. The two of them have worked side by side to take the company from a few restaurants in 1982 to the mega brand it is today. Tom is incredible to work with. He is generous, creative and was beyond helpful with getting the entire celebrity chef dinner series off the ground.
Wolfgang came out for each course and talked about why he chose the menu he did. We also had the incredible winemaker (and former race car driver) with the infectious laugh, Randy Lewis, there and he took turns talking about the pairings he had made for Wolfgang's menu. Lance has been friends with Wolfgang and Randy for a long time, so they did their usual banter back and forth and the guests loved it.
We had stainless steel menus screen printed that Lance, Wolfgang and Randy autographed at the end of the night for guests to take home. We used calligraphed tags tied with LIVESTRONG yellow ribbon to coordinate the wine glasses with the dinner courses they were paired with.
The gorgeous floral was from Mountain Flowers of Aspen. We finished out the tablescape with bold black glass candles by Dayna Decker with her signature wide wooden wicks in our modern glass and chrome hurricanes. With Aspen Mountain as our backdrop, it was an unforgettable night. And with the generous donation of the food, wine and venue, it was a great night helping empower cancer survivors.