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Hangover Observations: Taste & Tribute

From fires to financial woes, the news has been pretty bleak on this foggy Monday, so we thought we'd take this moment to acknowledge a bit of positive news from the restaurant world. On Friday evening, we were fortunate enough to witness a veritable pantheon of big name Bay Area chefs unite for an important cause: the Tibetan Aid Project's annual Taste & Tribute benefit. We strongly encourage you to check out the website for more information about the cause (the TAP is focused largely on culture preservation via texts, staying away from heavy politics), but for now, we'll offer up a few thoughts from the restaurant angle on the evening that was:

1) The man who spearheaded the event and first came up with the idea of a chef-driven fund raiser years ago deserves acknowledgment: Laurent Manrique, pictured above.

2) In addition to live and silent auctions, a short film, and a candle-lighting ceremony, the evening featured a dinner by the chefs (lineup below). There were 11 tables, each with a different four-course menu put on by a pair of restaurants. We were at the Bacar/El Paseo table.

3) Bonus Manrique fun fact: like his buddy Eric Ripert, he's a practicing Buddhist.

4) One of the many fun lines by the auctioneer during the live auction: "They say never trust a skinny chef and Preston Dishman is as trustworthy as they come ." And Dishman's fans were in the house: his 12-person private dinner party went for a cool $2,600.

5) We already mentioned Manrique's dedication to the cause, and here are the rest of the chefs that also deserve a round of applause for their participation. Roll call: Peter Armellino of Plumed Horse; Ron Boyd of Aqua; Bruno Chemel of Chez TJ; Preston Dishman, formerly of The General's Daughter; Mark Dommen of One Market; Khai Duong of Ana Mandara; Dmitry Elperin of The Village Pub; Srijith Gopinathan of Campton Place; Bruce Hill of Bix and Picco; Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade; Jennie Lorenzo of Fifth Floor in the Hotel Palomar; Jean-Pierre Moullé of Chez Panisse; Morgan Mueller of Bacar; Lauren Kiino/Daniel Patterson of Coi; Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustards Grill and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen; Mark Richardson of Four Seasons; Xavier Salomon of Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay; Victor Scargle of Go Fish; Liza Shaw of A16; Mark Sullivan of Spruce; Keiko Takahashi of El Paseo; Kolin Vazzoler of Marché, and Lionel Walter of Aqua.

[All photos courtesy of Eduardo Solér]