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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oceana Gala 2013: a vision of blue

Photo courtesy of Oceana
Someone once asked me if I was a professional "gala goer".  I guess the answer is yes.  Especially when it comes to causes that I admire and want to support.  OCEANA is one of those organizations.  I'm not sure that anyone who learns about what Oceana does could resist joining the cause as well.  As the largest international ocean conservation organization, Oceana continues to impress me with its countless legislative changes made globally that protect and save our oceans and its inhabitants. (greatly in part to the focused vision of CEO Andrew Sharpless)  Things like banning shark finning in California and the E.U., stopping offshore drilling in the coral reefs of Belize, banning wild sea trout fishing in Finland and many more.  I strongly urge you to check out their website and get more info!

Chris Hemsworth, Susan Rockefeller and Elsa Pataki
 Photo courtesy of Oceana
So I guess when I get invited to the inaugural NYC gala for Oceana, chaired by Susan and David Rockefeller in New York at Christy's, I have to go.  And bring friends with me...  The evening started with cocktails in the beautiful space of Christy's featuring the splendid photography of various artists.

Inside the ballroom, we entered through tunnels of submarine-like windows and doors.  The decor was simple and beautiful with video images of our beautiful oceans and beaches surrounding the room.  Survivorman, Les Stroud, kicked off the evening by reminding us how powerful our oceans and ocean creatures are.

Kate on point
With the mermaid herself, Sue Rockefeller!
blue shift Lisa Perry
The beautiful Kate Walsh followed with her own story of involvement with Oceana, proving that the SoCal bred actress is passionate about our oceans and especially the survival of Sea Turtles.  My friend and reason for getting involved with Oceana, Susan Rockefeller, also spoke on the importance of remembering why we were gathered there that evening.  Oceana rarely lets you forget why you may be dressed up and eating steak…

Kay Fernandez raising her paddle!
O.C.A.D and Olivia Cipolla surprised everyone with an energetic and slightly erotic performance after dessert.  The live auction was a hit, raising over $150,000, including a dinner with President Bill Clinton.  (I tried, but alas was outbid)

Table mates Cameron Silver, Amber Hackett, Jennifer Tilly with  Frank Fernandez and sponsor  Rick Taylor, President and COO of Konica Minolta 
with milliner extraordinaire Rod Kennan and Valentino's Robin Hermelee
The night was a huge success, raising close to $1m for Oceana that will go towards saving your Oceans.  My Oceans.  Our Oceans.  I'd say that's worth getting dressed up and dragging friends out for!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Masters Tournament Exposed 2013

Augusta, GA, during the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National, transforms each spring.  Not only do dogwoods blossom, azaleas turn bright pinks, oranges and whites, but droves of people from all around the world enter our small little city.  Berkman Road morphs from roving grass hills to a giant parking lot of rented cars, taxis and vans.  It becomes officially what is known as Masters Week.
There aren't tons and tons of hotels in Augusta, so many locals turn over (aka rent) their houses to be enjoyed by golfers, corporate groups and visitors.  Those Augustans usually head out to the beach or some other Spring break destination.  The ones that remain enjoy a week of Augusta on steroids - a fun albeit exhausting time of golf, parties and spring.

Washington Road is the main strip from I-20 to the Augusta National golf course.  On this road one finds crowds of people walking toward the course, passing decent hotels, chain restaurants and bars.  But behind this scene is the real Augusta.  The beautiful southern charm of Augusta that some are lucky enough to experience.

Pre-course photo with Jeannie Joseph, Amber Hackett and Kay Fernandez: Paco Rabane goes Green
Course fashion and shopping: Caroline Morris and Heather Howington
After spending a day walking the grounds of the Augusta National, watching golf, eating sandwiches (my favorites are egg salad and barbeque - always a local debate!), drinking cold beer and catching up with friends that you see along the way; we Augustans begin the Masters Week night life.

ACC at sunset: Mary Linda Lamar in Mary Katrantzou
Some hit the Augusta Country Club for the 19th hole.  The Donald Ross-1899 created course abuts the Augusta National, and some say just as challenging.  Its stunning clubhouse overlooks the greens and the Augusta treelined sky.  With nice pours of wine, liquors and yummy bar snacks, the outside courtyard floods with generations of Augustans and guests dressed in post-tournament outfits or fresh, evening ready wares.  And with its famous and super secret cocktail, The Velvet Hammer, how could the Augusta Country Club not be a favorite watering hole?  (by the way, the Velvet Hammer is an ice-cream based drink that will knock your socks off while pretending to be a dessert…)

Photo Courtesy of Tako Sushi
Tempura fried asparagus: Photo Courtesy of Tako Sushi
I am obsessed with Tako Sushi, located in the perfectly charming shopping center, Surrey Center.  With a brave menu of Southwest food on one side and Sushi on the other, Tako Sushi is a crowd pleaser.  Flash fried sushi rolls, pulled pork nachos and their famous margaritas set the mood right!

Guiness at night: the cure-all
Augusta has deep Irish roots.  And these are usually the most fun folks in town.  Sheehan's Irish Pub is another packed venue during Masters Week (and every other week).  The food is great and the bartenders are always pouring.  Either sitting outside or cramming yourself inside, there is no better way to enjoy the atmosphere.  Just remember to walk home or get a taxi…


Augustans love to throw and attend parties.  This year I decided to have a sit-down dinner for 50, with a mixed guest list of locals, guests and guests of guests.  Greg Boulus, owner and genius of Charleston Street creates the most intimate, lovely, inspiring tables for a party - ever.  And paired with Tastefully Yours Catering by Jennifer Shuford, your event is sure to be memorable and delightful.  Greg and Jennifer are both childhood friends of mine, and Augusta is lucky to have them setting up shop there.  They are pros!
Photo courtesy of one of my favorite locals, Tara Simkins
It's always that winning putt of the tournament that steals the show, but it's certainly cushioned by some of the most beautiful homes in the world, excellent cuisine and by far the nicest, most charming people. Always hard to leave, but more than a pleasure to return.