After a nearly three-year hiatus due to COVID, the California Spirit Gala tasting event returned to the Sony lot on Sunday to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.
Hundreds of guests gathered on a breezy afternoon to enjoy food provided by over a dozen different chefs from some of Los Angeles’ hottest restaurants. Attendees enjoyed oysters from The Lobster courtesy of chef Govind Armstrong, fried chicken from Howlin’ Rays, chocolate monkey shoulder in a whiskey torte by pastry chef Sherry Ward and marinated peppers with tuna from Osteria Mozza served up personally by L.A. restaurant legend Nancy Silverton.
As they have for several years now, Phil Rosenthal and Sherry Lansing served as the gala’s honorary co-chairs, and Rosenthal spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the importance of using food to unite people.
“I now make my way in the world through food,” the Somebody Feed Phil host told The Hollywood Reporter. “Food is the great connector, and for me, laughs are the cement, so when you combine the two, everyone wants to be there. We have some of the best chefs in L.A. here, including my friend Nancy Silverton. What more do you want?”
Lansing has long supported the ACS through The Sherry Lansing Foundation. She told attendees that she feels more optimistic about the fight against cancer now than she ever has.
“Only two months ago, two of my dearest friends told me they had cancer. If this had happened ten years ago, I would have been in tears and felt hopeless,” she said, “but because of the discovery of new drugs, both of my friends will not die of cancer, and that to me is the reason why we’re here.”
Rosenthal concurred with Lansing and told THR that recent breakthroughs in treatments had given him a sense of optimism about the future of treating cancer.
“There are cures on the horizon. There are things happening. There’s hope, real hope for people now, and this is the most positive I’ve been about the outlook for cancer treatment I’ve ever had,” he added. “That’s something to celebrate.”
The American Cancer Society funds research for cancer treatments and support for cancer survivors, but it also has focused on creating equitable outcomes for those who have cancer. For example, a study by the ACS found that Black women have the lowest survival rate from breast cancer, and the organization has launched an initiative to discover how they can raise their survival rates to equivalence with other groups.
In addition to the food, the event — of which THR was a media sponsor — featured both a live and silent auction, and several thousand dollars were raised by attendees bidding on prizes such as a luxury suite for a Los Angeles Dodgers game, home-cooked dinners from top chefs, and lunch with Rosenthal. Billy Harris served as host, and Rosenthal even participated in the auction when he successfully bid $20,000 for a BBQ dinner for 50 guests prepared by Bert Bakman of Slab and Jorge Alvarez of Tacos 1986.
Co-Founded by Wolfgang Puck and Lansing in 1984, California Spirit is among the most acclaimed food and wine benefits in Southern California, having raising more than $17 million for the fight against cancer to date.