C-Cap Fundraising Event to Benefit the Culinary Stars of Tomorrow

Rafael Perezchica greeting guests

October 26, 2005-Devoted supporters and hosts Kerry and Larry Stickney welcomed 200 invited guests to the legendary Bing Crosby Estate in Toluca Lake that they reside in. Greeted at the front door with champagne by Rafael Perezchica one of the graduating students from the C-CAP Program. I began to feel exhilarating energy. This evening is more then just a wonderful cause, it is a way out, a chance at a greater life for these young teens.

Grand entry

Mila Bogdan in the billiard room, once Bing’s office

Walking into this beautiful 'Southern Colonial' style home build by Bing in 1934, I was invited to take a private tour. Wide staircase led me to a museum like upstairs in the house. A lovely woman Jeanice Deeb explained that even though much of the second floor was destroyed in the 1943 Christmas tree fire, some of the original second story remains. Upstairs sitting room inserted between the master bedroom and the kids room, was a place Bing spend many nights reading fan mail, watching TV, known for being an insomniac he found comfort in this adorable alcove.


Children's Room: Originally two bedrooms - Bing's and Dixie's Bedroom

The upper landing and Dixie's fur safe remain unchanged (the mink still hanging). The kid's room originally had stairs that led to the ground floor, that is how, as luck would have it Dixie and the kids managed to escape the burning flames of the fire. That evening Bing was reported to be having dinner with Fred Astair. As he watched the house burn, simply smoking his pipe, he swiftly called out 'My golf shoes!' and ran into the flaming house to rescue his charred golf shoes from the entry closet. They had a large bankroll of his poker winnings (as much as $30,000).Deficiency of building materials during the war years made it impossible for the Crosby's to rebuild. The property was sold and got passed through various hands including the Dolenz family, Dr. Moss, Andy Griffith, and Jerry and Shirley Van Dyke. Many of Hollywood's legends were frequent guests and friends of Bing including Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Bob Hope and Ingrid Bergman.

Bing Crosby spent lots of his nights in this room, he was an insomniac

A beautiful bedroom - Dixie's Fur Safe

After purchasing the home the Stickney's were aware of the Crosby affiliation but not much more, never the less after two Crosby television specials were filmed at the house in 1998, Stickney's became acquainted with Phillip Crosby the last surviving son of Bing and Dixie Crosby, he opened up about his memories, photographs of the home, and also introduced his daughter and grandchildren. 'If it weren't for the fire, we could have lived here forever', he said. Taking all of this history in all at once, there was another gorgeous room I entered, the billiard room, once Bing's office with an entrance out to the breezeway (now enclosed) between the living room and bar. This room brought the whole experience together, pictures, memorabilia, a book entitled Bing Crosby: A Bio-Bibliography opened up to a photograph of Bing smiling on the billiard table, made you aware of the respect and honor for this legendary man, who cheered and gave hope to the American people during the Great Depression.


The Original Master Bedroom in 1938

The greater reason of being invited to the Toluca Lake Estate is the 2005 Fundraiser for C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) a national nonprofit program designed to promote culinary arts training, foodservice careers in public schools for the unprivileged and at-risk teens. Since 1990, C-CAP has trained over 500 teachers, embraced 90,000 students, honored 1,650 scholarships estimated at over $15 million. Just in 2005 this independent culinary program presented more than $2 million in scholarships to student chefs. The organization offers long-term college and career counseling, networking advice, and just simple guidance. C-CAP has donated more then $2 million worth of equipment and supplies to necessitous public schools in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Tidewater,VA, Washington D.C. and parts of Arizona. For more information, and donations you can visit www.ccapinc.org

Barbara Lazaroff with Jeanice Deeb's one of a kind Art Plate

Supported by Barbara Lazaroff and Wolfgang Puck Catering, Sherry Yard - Executive Pastry Chef at Spago, Donald Wressell - Executive Pastry Chef Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, Neal Fraser - Co- Owner and Chef - Grace, Jason Ha and Sean Ahn - Zip Fusion and e.#3rd, Chocolates a la Carte, Sprits by: Bonny Doon Vineyard, Gloria Ferrer, Benziger Family, and St. Francis. Nothing could go wrong! Approached with a tray of salmon, tuna sushi, spicy tuna in sesame crust waffle, that melts in your mouth was just the beginning of tasting the art work of Wolfgang Puck's Catering. The famous gourmet pizza's, and cheeseburger's then followed. Neal Fraser from Grace had prepared a Dungeness Crab Salad, with edamame. Tender white meat with a hint of fresh mint, leaves you wanting more. Reminding to pace myself, I moved onto try the art of Sean Ahn, his incredible Beef Pinwheels in rice paper and Crispy Sashimi Mix Asian Tostadas (crispy rice paper discs) is a must try for anyone who appreciates Asian, European and Latin influences. Sean creates his dishes by working with regional foods and spices to develop a California Fusion. Raymond Alvarez a C-CAP graduate who is currently Kitchen Manager of restaurant Ciudad, prepared Bing Crosby's Ceviche.*Bing picked up this recipe in Baja California, where he owned a hacienda at Las Cruces. Bing and many others including Hemingway, John Wayne, Desi Arnaz, Clark Gable went deep-sea fishing during the 'Golden Age'. I am delighted to pass on this recipe that has been around for decades. From the book 'Dishing Hollywood' by Laurie Jacobson

Wolfgang Puck's Catering

1.5 pounds of white fillet of fish juice of 9 limes
1 large onion, minced fine
16 large green olives, cut up
2 tablespoons juice from olive jar
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and minced fine with juice
3/4 cup ketchup or Mexican red sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
5 dashes Salsa picante (hot sauce)
Cut the fish into cubes or squares. Soak in lime juice for 90 minutes. put in a sieve and rinse well. Mix with the other ingredients and chill. The lime juice does the cooking!

Sherry Yard, Executive Pastry Chef - Spago and Donald Wressell, Executive Pastry Chef - Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles

Desserts and more desserts

Sherry Yard indulged us in her delicious, warm peach cobbler, with vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate torte with mocha praline cream, that I had to be physically torn away from. (oh yes I went back for a second round). Donald Wressell spoiled the guests with bite size chocolates, every one had an unexpected filling, this treat could take you away from reality for a minute. How can you have such food and no drink?

Grace prepared Dungeness Crab Salad - Wines offered by Learn About Wine

Chefs receiving awards

Boony Doon Vineyard, Gloria Ferrer, Benzinger Family and St. Francis were featured here tonight. To help out Douglas Allan from Learn About Wine was right there. This company is Los Angeles' Source for Wine Education and Events. Learn more about them and Events that are coming up at www.LearnAboutWine.com Georgia Mercer- Board of Trustees introduced Rena Pocrass- President and Founder of Chocolates a la Carte, Rick Kirkbride- Chair, Resort - Restaurant and Recreation Group, Carl Schuster - Managing Partner, Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events, and Mario Martinoli- Media Host. The founder and president, cookbook author Richard Grausman was a proud man this evening. Introducing his graduate students he beamed with joy, it was obvious this man deeply wanted to make a change, and he certainly has.  He spoke about C-CAP what this program had brought to kids across America. With this program he has helped guide the lost, has opened doors for a better future to those whom did not see beyond the dark streets filled with crime. Awarded tonight for their excellence were Sherry Yard, Donald Wressell, Neal Fraser, and Sean Ahn. Presented with one of a kind hand blow glass plates by Jeanice Deeb. The most touching moment of the evening came when three students that have graduated from C-CAP shared their stories, of how they got involved, what this program did for them, and where they would have ended up if C-CAP did not enter their lives.

Mr. Grausman, President - C-CAP Founder proudly presents students Katteryn Hernandez, Rafael Perezchica, Rigoverto “Rigo” Salas

Katteryn Hernandez spoke of poverty, not knowing what she wanted to do for a career. She thanked Mr. Grausman for his support, kindness, and a father like figure that she needed, now working at The Four Seasons. Rafael Perezchica had a great sense of humor and appreciation. He considers him self lucky to have been given this chance for a greater life, to cook, to do something he is not only good at, but loves. He is now working at Rancho Vista Golf Course. Rigoverto 'Rigo' Salas shared his goals before C-CAP, of becoming a gangster like his uncle who he loved and looked up to so much as a child. Doing drugs, killing, robbing, was the highest peak in his hood, and that could have been the road he might of had to travel. Thanks to C-CAP Rigo has found another path, he is safe, his cuts and burns come from the kitchen not from the streets that he described. With a bright future ahead he is currently employed at Loews Beverly Hills.

With everything going on in the world today, I am pleased to witness goodness, support, and a bright look into the future, knowing that these kids will be great role models for other teens for many years to come because C-CAP gave them a chance to be.

Photos by Lawrence Davis

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