News & Politics

A Night Out: JDB Fine Hotels & Resorts 30th Anniversary Gala

The luxury travel company celebrated its anniversary at the Italian Embassy with special guest chef Pino Lavarra.

Two-star Michelin chef Pino Lavarra flew in from Italy to prepare the meal for the event.

What: A black-tie dinner and dance to celebrate the 30th anniversary of luxury travel company JDB Fine Hotels & Resorts

Where: Embassy of Italy

When: Saturday, February 16, 6:30 PM

Who: A slew of travel editors, JDB execs, including COO Christopher Baer, and their guests. The real man of the hour was behind the scenes: two-star Michelin chef Pino Lavarra of Rossellinis, a resort restaurant in Ravello, Italy.

Food: Appetizers were nothing to raise your Prosecco to (95 percent of the waiters seemed to be toting cream-cheese-and-sun-dried-tomato tarts, which got a bit tiresome), but Pino pulled out all the stops at dinner, creating a salad of crisp asparagus and creamy burrata cheese, then moving to lamb-stuffed ravioli in just the right amount of mozzarella milk sauce. The olive-crusted black cod came on a bed of polenta that looked like grits (“They sure do know how to welcome us Southerners,” joked a guest from Atlanta) but—judging by the amount Mr. Atlanta left on his plate—tasted nothing like its Southern relative. Dessert emerged after the band started playing, but the chocolate-hazelnut mousse and banana sorbet were well worth missing a few minutes of dancing to “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

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Drink: A different Italian wine appeared with every course, starting with a refreshing bubbly from the Franciacorta region and finishing with a sweet, sparkling rosé from Montalcino. After dinner, a few open bottles sat on a table near the dance floor, making it easy for guests to sneak another glass or two.

Scene: A few empty table settings—it was a holiday weekend, after all—actually improved this party: no line at the Prosecco bar and plenty of room to mingle. After dinner, Maryland band the Fabulous Hubcaps (who truly were fabulous) got people moving right away with hits like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Boy From New York City.” By midnight, women were ditching their heels to dance to the Doobie Brothers. The strangest part of the evening may have been the table centerpieces—each giant martini glass had a live fish swimming among the floating roses.


Boldface names: 1 out of 5
Swankiness: 3 out of 5
Food and drink: 4 out of 5
Exclusivity: 4 out of 5

Total score: 12 out of 20