LOS ANGELES – Fran Drescher, with her trademark laugh, captivated a large crowd gathered for the annual GLAAD Hancock Park fundraiser on Sunday afternoon in the backyard at a longtime supporter's home.
As the celebrity host, Drescher spoke at length in favor of equality and enjoyed poking fun at the event chair, Peter Marc Jacobson, who happens to be her ex.
And for his part, Jacobson jokingly referred to himself as “Fran Drescher’s gay ex-husband.”
Lou Diamond Phillips, the actor and foodie, hosted the Top Chef Challenge with the mystery ingredient being figs. Chef Chris Crary, voted fan favorite in Season 9 of "Top Chef," and and Chef Jamie Lauren, from Season 5 of "Top Chef," were the “Chef’testants” and cooked an entrée live in front of hundreds of guests.
Celebrity judges were singer Frenchie Davis (“The Voice”), gossip blogger Perez Hilton, and restaurateur and Bravo TV star Lisa Vanderpump (“The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills”). Yes, the latter brought Jiggy, her celebrity Pomeranian, who was handled mostly by her husband, Ken Todd.
Spotted in the crowd were Josh Flagg and Madison Hildebrand (“Million Dollar Listing, Los Angeles”), Mike Manning (“The Real World”) and Martyn Lawrence Bullard (“ Million Dollar Decorators”). Readers may recall Flagg gave San Diego Gay & Lesbian News an exclusive in 2011 when he came out on his Bravo TV reality series and spoke about his boyfriend, Colton Thorn. That interview remains one of the most-read stories in SDGLN history.
Others scheduled to attend were Leslie Birkland (“Big Rich Texas”), Shane Bitney (activist and filmmaker), Doug and Jackie Christie (“Basketball Wives LA”), Kim Coles (“Soul Man,” “Are You Normal America?”), Kaya Jones (singer), Romi Klinger (“The Real L Word”), Kate Linder (“The Young & The Restless”), Jeffrey Alan Marks and Ross Cassidy (“Million Dollar Decorators”), Chef Stuart O'Keeffe (celebrity chef), Jai Rodriguez (“Malibu Country”) and actor Nick Zano.
Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s new president, addressed the spectators just before the Top Chef Challenge. Graddick spoke about the advocacy work that GLAAD does and noted that the national organization is often the first voice in standing up against discrimination against the LGBT community in the U.S.
As usual, those in attendance got to sample incredible food created by some of the top chefs in Los Angeles. SDGLN, which is a media partner with GLAAD, sent three representatives to the event, including Staff Writer Ben Cartwright.
SDGLN’s contingent agreed that three chef stations stood out:
* Simon|L.A. offered a bite-sized tortilla chip topped by a black bean puree and lobster. The combinations of ingredients and flavors were so delicately arranged that this appetizer was like a gourmet lover’s Lay’s potato chip: You couldn’t eat just one! Kudos to Chef Kerry Simon. His restaurant can be found at the Sofitel, 8555 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.
* Ceviche Project and Chef Octavio Olivas served up a stunning ceviche with tortilla chips and a choice of two sauces: one made of sea urchin and the other with avocado. Chef brought just enough heat to break a sweat on a very warm day in LaLaLand.
* Dominick’s puts oysters on an open grill to get a smoky flavor, then barely drizzled mignonette sauce over it. Heavenly! You can find the restaurant at 8715 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.
All photos published with this article were taken by SDGLN Staff Writer Ben Cartwright.
Top left: Cervice Project serves up ceviche with a choice of sea urchin or avocado sauce.
Middle left: GLAAD's president, Herndon Graddick
Bottom left: Actor Lou Diamond Phillips (left) introduces Lisa Vanderpump and Perez Hilton.
Featured photo: Crowd scene includes Perez Hilton, gossip blogger.