La Fête Magnifique! | The New Children's Museum Throws Lavish Feasting in Versailles Fundraiser

October 17, 2013

The New Children's Museum closed for a month to prepare the 3 story space for its fourth interactive exhibition - Feast: The Art of Playing With Your Food.  On Thursday, October 10, the museum reopened in grandiose fashion. Generous donors (many fashioned as French aristocrats) dished out $500 a plate to be whisked away to a time long ago for a dramatic six course meal at the VIP patron's exhibit preview and dinner, appropriately coined 'Feasting in Versailles.' Featuring a themed performance by Grammy nominated Sacha Boutros, a Pink Carpet reception and cocktail hour, 6 courses of amazing culinary offerings from some of the areas most prominent chefs, a riveting live auction, a dessert buffet and tours of the new exhibition, this was an evening unlike any other and a magnificent reopening for one of the area's most interactive and progressive museums.

The King of France with
the Queen of SanDiegoVille
Culinary stylist and chef Andrew Spurgin is known for combining amazing meals with theatrical ambiance and showmanship, and in partnering with Chef Dawn Parks of Wild Thyme Company and master mixologist Michael Esposito of Snake Oil Cocktails, the team ensured that Feasting in Versailles was no exception. The event truly transported participants to Regency Era France, as costumed men and women were on hand for photo opportunities, chef's presented their dishes with exciting and theatrical skits, and even the food itself embraced the spirit of the era.

The evening began with a Pink Carpet reception; champagne was offered upon entrance and eager guests lined up for photo opportunities.

Donors were then ushered into the museum's lobby for hors d'oeuvres by Chef Dawn Parks, including beet cured salmon blini, chanterelle mushroom gougère pastries, and duck confit galettes. Guests were also offered an array of cocktails and beverages.

Once seated, Chef Andrew Spurgin stole the show and presented the first course - a "Fabergé" egg - a beautifully decorated eggshell filled with sea urchin custard, Meyer lemon gelée, salmon roe and topped with a gold leaf.  The presentation was beyond flamboyantly elegant.

Following the first course, Grammy-nominated singer and San Diego native Sacha Boutros entertained the palais with a lovely French song that mesmerized the crowd.

The second course was presented by Chef Bernard Guillas of the Marine Room: an anise, sesame, sea salt cured big eye tuna with caviar pearls, tangerine kalibi aspic and plum brittle (pictured in the top photo).  Like everything else we've ever tasted from Chef Bernard, this dish was complex and absolutely delicious.

Beef Wellington from Chef Jeff Jackson
The main course was presented by servers hoisting large banquet boards from which they dished each of the four family-style plates to every table.  Chef Trey Foshees of Georges at the Cove made pheasant with turnips, truffles and sauce Albuféra.  Chef Javier Plascencia offered slow cooked pork tenderloin with foie gras, roasted apples and calvados. Chef Jeff Jackson's beef Wellington with sauce madeira was the belle of the ball and was one of the best things we've eaten in recent memory. Sides of asparagus and braised mushrooms and bacon-wrapped truffle potato were presented by Chef Patrick Ponsaty of Bellamy's.

After everyone was adequately satiated, event co-chairs, Michelle Alexander and Yolanda Walther-Meade, thanked the crowd and aired a film demonstrating all of the immense efforts dedicated to constructing the Feast exhibition.  Then guests had the chance to bid on one-of-a-kind experiences in a live auction led by famed auctioneer Steve Hamann.

While a cheese course was offered by Chef Gina Frieze of Venissimo Cheese and desserts were presented by Chef Amy Rusalov of Wild Thyme and Chef Jack Fisher of Sea180, eager guests were given free reign in the museum, exploring the various artist exhibits, awakening the child in each.

All in all, Feasting in Versailles was one of the most impressive fundraisers that we have had the opportunity to attend.  The event was fun, exciting, entertaining and a magical moment in the history of The New Children's Museum.

Stay tuned for our ReCap of Feasting in Wonderland and be sure to visit The New Children's Museum to explore Feast: The Art of Playing With Your Food!