Best of the Bay Area Party 2007

After five years in Gotham, I decided to return home to San Francisco in June. Although I’ve only been back for a couple months, in that short time, the transition confirmed what I’d already suspected. Moving back west is considerably much easier that the reverse-relocation. A big part of my assimilation process has been reimmersing myself in the left-coast lifestyle. And what better way to do that than, to get reacquainted with old friends, try new restaurants, and attend a cavalcade of events. One such opportunity presented itself with the 7th Annual Best of the Bay Area Party. Housed in the Concourse Exhibition Center, the fete served up libations and light faire from more than 50 local restaurants and wineries. Hosted by San Francisco Magazine, the event also included a fashion lounge, live dance performers, an in-house art display, and even a silent auction. With a capacity expected to exceed last year’s 2,000; revelers came out to celebrate the very best of what this fine city by the bay has to offer. But in true San Francisco fashion, the partygoers’ and planners’ motives delved deeper than Dionysian to charitable, the benefit raised funds and awareness for Family House.

Two of the stunning gowns presented during the runway show

According to its website, Family House serves as a home away from home for families of seriously ill children being treated at the University of California San Francisco Children's Hospital. Families come from at least 50 miles away for treatment. Families are not charged during their stay, but contribute what they can. The Foundation can accommodate 34 families, or 107 people per night. Families share large living rooms, kitchens, libraries, playrooms, and laundry facilities. Family House serves at least 2,000 families each year, and occupancy is almost always at 100 percent. The Organization serves children with cancer undergoing bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. When space is available, the non-profit corporation houses other children with life-threatening illnesses. All families not only receive the essential service of housing, but also the more intangible support and community that families have left behind.

One of the winery samples

 
 
It’s no wonder the Concourse Exhibition Center is host to so many of San Francisco’s high-profile events. Located in SOMA’s (South of Market) hotspot district, the exhibit hall is a gem among the San Francisco Design Center’s crown of exhibit halls. With 125,000 square feet of exhibition space, 25’ ceilings, retractable skylights, and clerestory windows the abundant natural light pouring into the former railway station makes it an ideal venue for large gatherings, corporate events, and tradeshows.

Le Bistro's lovely assortment of desserts taste even better than they look

A team of DJ’s took turns center stage spinning a medley of rock (“Eleanor Rigby” and “Don’t Stop Believin’”), alternative (“Tenderness” and “99 Luftballoons”) and dance (“Planet Rock” and “Umbrella”), satiating an eclectic range of music tastes. Shifting from auditory to olfactory and senses, I walked through the open space delighting in the veritable feast of Bacchus. Table after table of hors d’ouvres and wine samplings flanked an intimate fashion show, portraits and mixed media from local artists, opening onto a dance floor towards the back with a VIP suite situated on the overlooking mezzanine. I observed a mix of artists, business professionals, and food connoisseurs all joined for one great cause! The virtual gastronomic passport was reflective of San Francisco’s cultural diversity with a myriad of cuisines on hand to tantalize taste buds and curb cravings: Italian, French, Peruvian, and Asian, to name a few. With multiple wineries on hand, varietals abound—chardonnay, pinot noir, sryah, merlot, and additional bars on hand for those with a less discriminating palate. And for those of us with a sweet tooth, there were the most sinful assortment of delectable desserts, compliments of Shari’s Berries, Le Bistro, and Kara’s Cupcakes.

Shari's Berries served white, milk, and dark chocolate covered strawberries

The impressive list of sponsors and partners lending their support included Wells Fargo, Cadillac, Saab, Hummer, Qantas, and Shreve & Co. While the food and drink tables aligned the dance floor and stage, a series of auction tables were stationed towards the back. Silent auction items were divided into a several categories to suit every fancy—sleep; eat; activities & fun; sip & savor; entertainment; primp & preen, fine art; for the home; style up; and be jeweled! Goodies being auctioned off featured everything from museum and gym memberships; luxury accommodations; spa visits, cooking classes; winery tours; jewelry; and designer handbags! The evening’s luxury raffle item was a nine-day excursion for two across the English Channel with ports of call in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and more!

A spa package that can massage away the most stressful of days was a popular auction item

Hmm… now upon collecting your winnings, just imagine yourself being pampered at the Claremont, dining at local favorite Jardinière, then leaving refreshed for your European cruise; and if you’re really lucky, perhaps you’ll set sail for the Atlantic waters with a stunning cushion-cut blue topaz and diamond ring from David Yurman and a cobalt pony hair Balenciaga handbag in tow… all the while, raising funds for a worthy cause. This will not only have you “channeling” your inner fashionista/ adventurer/ foodie, but you’ll awaken that altruistic spirit as well. I can’t think of a better way to say Bon Voyage!

This beautiful blue ponyskin Balenciaga handbag was my favorite auction item

For more information on Family House, please visit www.familyhouse.org

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