News & Politics

A Night Out: DCJCC Gala

The drinks from Restaurant Eve were a highlight of the evening.

What: Washington DC Jewish Community Center 10th Anniversary Gala

Where: Union Station

When: April 19, 2007 at 6 p.m.

Who: Many power players of Washington's Jewish community, including Nationals owner Debra Lerner Cohen, former Ambassador Stuart Bernstein, president of the Motion Picture Association of America and former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, US District Judge Paul Friedman, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, and GW president Stephen Trachtenberg, whose wife Francine Zorn Trachtenberg is president of the DCJCC.
Ticket Price: $350 to $5,000 (table of 10)

Food: The theme for this year’s DCJCC gala was “10 Years, 10 Chefs", so food was obviously not an afterthought. Todd Gray of Equinox served as executive chef of the gala—no coincidence that his wife, Ellen Kassoff-Gray, was one of the event co-chairs. The cocktail hour featured appetizer stations helmed by some of the area’s top chefs. Gray fried bite-size smoked salmon beignets; Bebo Trattoria’s Roberto Donna dished out stuffed rigatoni with broccoletti over provolone sauce; Brian McBride of Blue Duck Tavern offered ginger soy salmon with shitake and wood ear mushrooms. Palena’s pastry chef Ann Amernick made mini wild mushroom galettes in addition to her famous caramels. Though Michel Richard was not present last night, Citronelle’s general manager ladled his boss’s delicious eggplant gazpacho with beet chips into little glass mugs. After this stellar array of appetizers came the three course meal, each course prepared by another local restaurant chef. Barton Seaver of the soon-to-open Hook made a split-pea soup with minted pea saffron couscous timbale, an interesting dish if a bit bland. The entree from Vidalia’s RJ Cooper, pan-roasted Norwegian salmon with swiss chard, granny smith apples, and carrot/parsnip roti, was excellent. Dessert offered a warm bittersweet chocolate cake with coffee anglaise, almond florentine, and vanilla ice cream from Buzz Bakery’s Lisa Scruggs. The cake was delicious even despite the fact that it arrived at the table room-temperature.

Drink: The most popular station during the cocktail hour was Restaurant Eve’s. A bartender from the restaurant poured one of mixologist Todd Thrasher’s specialty drinks, the Eamonn Cocktail, made with Irish whiskey and yuzu juice. Alexander Valley Chardonnay ‘05 and Sherwood Pinot Noir ‘05 were served with dinner.

Scene: This gala was not about the boldface names or who wore what—the food was the center of attention. During the cocktail reception in an area blocked off outside Union Station’s elegant East Room, guests loved chatting with the chefs and returning for seconds and thirds of their favorite nibbles. Once seated in the East Room, attention turned to speeches followed by the live auction in the middle of the room.

Auction: Prizes ranged from lunch for 4 at the Palm with James Carville to a private screening for up to 40 at the Motion Picture Association of America, thanks to MPAA president and auction emcee Dan Glickman. This movie party was the biggest seller of the night, going for $14,500. Real estate developer Herb Miller and his wife Patrice donated a week’s stay at their home in the South of France, a steal at $6,600.

Awkward Moment: Immediately following the final auction bid around 9:30, dozens of guests took off. People rose from their tables and smooched each other goodbye just as dessert was being served. Glickman tried to joke that the final door prize was a fantastic dessert, but much of this early-to-bed crowd wasn’t interested—or perhaps just stuffed.

Bold Face Names: 3 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 4 (out of 5)
Food/Drink: 5 (out of 5)
Exclusivity: 4 (out of 5)

Total Score: 16 (out of 20) 

Chef Todd Gray, master of the evening, put together a great dinner.
Palena’s pastry chef, Ann Amernick, helped out on dessert.

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