2019 Patron Gala:
Rick's Café Américain
Virginia Robinson Gardens reinvented itself once again at this year’s Patron’s Gala, which honored longtime Friends member and past president Julia Klein and her husband, Dr. Andrew Klein, with the Spirit of Beverly Hills Award.
“The fact that I can be a part of this incredible organization and part of this incredible group of women, I’m so honored and it inspires me,” Julia said when accepting the award. “We have made so much of an impact on so many people, especially the children. When you become a part of this organization, what you get is so incredibly special.”
Held on the warm Saturday evening of September 14, 2019, this perfect summer soiree began with a fabulous cocktail hour, the magical rays of the setting sun adding a golden hue to the glorious gardens. Beautifully attired attendees, who seemed straight out of Hollywood’s Golden Age, looked extra dazzling during the magic hour before the stars began twinkling in the sky.
Taking a cue from the theme of the evening, "Rick’s Café Américain" out of Casablanca, gala co-chairs Patty Elias Rosenfeld and Kerstin Royce thought of everything to transform Beverly Hills’ first estate back to its heyday circa Casablanca, Morocco. From a “cigarette girl” offering faux cigars and cigarettes for attendees to use as props to special cocktails from the best “Gin Joint” in all of Beverly Hills to beautiful floral additions created by Andrey Yun of Return to Eden and Ines Garstecki of Flower Maid, not to mention a bounty of tray passed hors d’oeuvres and flowing champagne, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Adding to the evening's festive theme, a 1939 Ford convertible with a chauffeur was stationed right outside the main house as guests began the evening. There were also three impersonators, including a Humphrey Bogart lookalike dressed like Bogart’s signature character, Rick, in addition to people attired to look like Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa and Claude Rains as Captain Renault. For more fun photo opps, a green screen in the Pool Pavilion offered guests the opportunity to pose with a variety of props and costume additions.
And of course, everyone had a wonderful time bidding on a bevy of silent auction items. Some of the fabulous items auctioned off included: extraordinary stays in Paris (one at Plaza Athene and one in a fabulous apartment in the hip Marais); beautiful jewelry from the Kazanjians; alluring pieces from David Yurman selected by Maor Batito; dinners at Baltaire, Crustacean and Patina, as well as a Moroccan Dinner for 10 at a private residence; hotel stays at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara and the Allegretto Hotel in Paso Robles with wine tasting; shopping sprees at Bash and Iro in Beverly Hills; tickets to the Opera and the Ballet, as well as sports tickets to Rams and UCLA games; and perhaps best of all, special events at Robinson Gardens such as yoga, tennis, bridge and Mahjong!
The dinner, held this year on Mrs. Robinson’s tennis court, was a delicious homage to Casablanca, with The Kitchen for Exploring Foods crafting dishes like a Tagine of Beef Short Ribs with Medjool Dates, Pomegranate Seeds and Golden Raisins and Chermoula marinated Sea Bass with Israeli Cous Cous. For dessert, guests dined on fresh berries, frozen strawberry tortes and small “date and phyllo cigars,” along with authentic Moroccan mint tea that was a sensory journey back in time. Guests further enjoyed themselves with live music and dancing to “Sam” on the Piano with Dave Damiani & the No Vacancy Orchestra keeping the evening upbeat and festive. And this year’s live auction was an absolute smash, with a $50 bill fetching over $1,000, in addition to extraordinary experiences including private dinners for 10 at Virginia Robinson Gardens, Helicopter Tours for 5 from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and even a private plane ride for 6 on King Air.
This year’s honorees were presented with two very special gifts: an exquisite hand-carved duck that the father of Friends’ President Patti Reinstein had made and a magnificent decanter with two love birds as the stopper donated by Lalique by virtue of the boutique's lovely manager Madeline Maghsoudi.
At the end of the night, thanks to the hard work of the gala co-chairs, Patti Reinstein and the incredible work of the Gala Committee, the evening successfully raised much needed funds to help preserve the 6.2-acre garden paradise, create a “Children’s Wildlife Pond” (with attendees able to name a duck for each $100 donation), and continue to support the Friends’ children’s educational program. Every year over 2,000 children visit the gardens and the gala is a key fundraiser for ensuring the continuation of this life-changing program.
“We thank everyone that gave so much of their time, devotion and support of this gala,” said gala co-chairs Patty and Kerstin. “Virginia would have been so very proud as it followed in her footsteps and was beneath the Harvest Moon, just as her party used to be.”
Post by Laura Coleman
Friends of Robinson Gardens member