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Hangover Observations: Taste of the Nation

This is Hangover Observations, where we share our thoughts on last night, the night that was.

Last night, superstar chefs from near and far rubbed elbows with fans and other charity-minded folk at Share Our Strength's 17th annual Taste of the Nation. With all proceeds going straight to SOS, the sold-out $250/ticket event was held at the Acme Chophouse, and the way the Giants' season is going, it was likely the biggest assembly of talent that will grace the building all year, and for a good cause at that. The entire shindig was graciously hosted by Traci Des Jardins, who pretty much led the way in bringing all types of big names on board. A cocktail/hors d'oeuvres reception kicked off the event with a silent auction, followed by a live auction and a five-course menu prepared by Des Jardins, Michael Symon, Chris Cosentino, Gavin Kaysen (Cafe Boulud), and Elizabeth Falkner. Here then, some observations:

1) Prior to the event, we received more than a few emails spotting best buds Symon and Cosentino cavorting all about town on Saturday, from the farmers' market to a romantic sunset stroll down in Kuletoville. For the evening affair, Cosentino roasted an entire goat.

2) Notable news of the night: anticipated Master of Ceremonies Tyler Florence backed out at the last second, leaving the event charity event sans a true replacement (dude, it's charity) and reinforcing our working theory that Florence is, well, really more of a call girl.

3) Fact: Scott Feldman, the man who fancies himself the Ari Gold of the restaurant industry, somehow topped his outfits at the SoBe Festival with the following ensemble: bright purple tie, pea green vest, navy blazer.

4) Top Chef was definitely in the house, with this season's local cheftestants creating an insta-crowd among fans in the dining room. Naturally, Ryan was a hit with the young, photo-happy ladies, and someone assured Erik that his corn dogs at Circa are indeed really good.

5) Fact the second: an hour into the silent auction, the most-bid-on item was not the trip to Wine Country, the dinner/hotel stay at the Fifth Floor, the opera/seven-courser at Aqua, but the tasting menu dinner at Waterbar. How's that for a temperature check of the city's dining scene?

6) Another surprise: Marcia missed the cocktail hour?

7) The collective charm of the Top Chef foursome paid off big time in the live auction, as a private dinner prepared by the four sold twice for $12K each. But that wasn't the big item of the night: thanks to Des Jardins, a spontaneous auction item of dinner prepared at the winner's home by all of the Iron Chefs went for $26K. Take a bow, TDJ.

8) Again, 100% of the proceeds went to charity, which is good. Further ways to get involved with Share Our Strength—including donations, restaurant opportunities and sponsorships—are available online.
· Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation [Official Site]
· EventWatch: Star Chefs Galore at Taste of the Nation [~ESF~]

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