What: The Ninth Annual Sugar & Champagne Affair to benefit the Washington Humane Society
Where: The Ritz-Carlton in DC’s Foggy Bottom
When: Wednesday, January 27
Ticket price: $90, VIP $150
Who: Washington animal lovers and their canine companions filled the Ritz-Carlton’s ballroom for the soirée’s ninth year. Hosted by Ellen and Todd Gray of Equinox restaurant and Salamander Hospitality, the fundraiser brought together area chefs and sommeliers to honor the Washington Humane Society’s Human Law Enforcement and Animal Control Officers. The 6 PM VIP reception featured such chefs as Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, and Brabo; Todd Gray of Equinox and Salamander Hospitality; RJ Cooper of Vidalia; Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve; Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley; and Ryan Witcher of the Ritz-Carlton.
For the main event, pastry chefs from restaurants such as Art and Soul, Blue Ridge, Co Co. Sala, Trummer’s On Main, and Citronelle brought sweet treats for both humans and dogs. Pastry chef David Guas, author of the cookbook DamGoodSweet, and Katie Githens, who penned The Dog Lover’s Companion to Washington DC, were on hand to sign and sell their books. Mixologists Gina Chersavani of PS 7’s and Simo Ahmadi of Equinox manned the island bar, and Fox 5 Morning News anchor Holly Morris was the emcee. Guests brought four-legged friends of all shapes and sizes from 1½-pound Chihuahua puppies to slobbering Great Danes.
The scene: Tail-wagging attendees were well-behaved in the hotel’s dessert-filled ballroom, though it got a little noisy as the night went on. Tables with sweets—dog-shaped cakes, gingerbread doghouses, and bone-shaped beignets—rimmed the room, while bartenders served Champagne, wine, and cocktails from an island in the center—with water bowls at its base. Humane Society volunteers paraded dogs in orange “Adopt Me” vests. Silent-auction prizes included a home-cooked dinner party for 12 from Todd Gray, a one-night stay at the Ritz, and gift baskets stuffed with dog toys. For a $20 donation, guests could take photos with their pets.
On stage, Humane Society president Lisa LaFontaine introduced Lila, a pit-bull puppy who was rescued from an abandoned crate and nursed back to health with the organization’s help, and Scott Giacoppo’s, chief programs officer, honored his team with certificates. The State of the Union address kept special honoree DC Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier from attending, but Giacoppo made sure her cooperation was recognized.
On the menu: Desserts included lavender/vanilla truffles, cupcakes, gelato, rootbeer floats, Key-lime icebox cake, and coconut/caramel chocolates. The VIP pre-party included savory tastings such as scallops three ways and chestnut agnolotti with truffled Brussels sprouts. The evening’s program book doubled as recipe cards for goodies such as the apple/crème-fraîche cake from Equinox and Citronelle’s chocolate bar.
Best display: Buzz bakery’s elaborate cupcake tree offered frosted dog faces on each cake.
Cutest mascot: Belga Café’s black-and-white Great Dane, Rena, who spent the evening sprawled in front of the restaurant’s table wearing a Belga T-shirt.
Boldface guests: 3.5 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 3 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 4.5 (out of 5)
Overall exclusivity: 3.5 (out of 5)
Total score: 14.5 (out of 20)