Delicious Dish—Menu Planning for the 2017 “Let’s Play” Gala

Beth Fhaner
 | Jun 26, 2017

Sophie Cripe, Sue Hecht and Tracy Kirwan checking out hors d’oeuvres options.


​Gala Co-chair Bill Schenker with Paul Gregory, The Westin South Coast Plaza’s executive chef.


​Tracy Kirwan with one of the salad creations.


​Dessert time! Gala Co-chair Bill Schenker asks Executive Chef Paul Gregory about some of the dessert ingredients.

Work on SCR’s 2017 Gala (“Let’s Play,” Sept. 16), the theatre’s annual fundraiser, is well underway. As part of their work, members of the Gala’s Cuisine Committee gathered at The Westin South Coast Plaza for one of the most important tasks of planning for the Gala—menu planning. Of course, this job involves tasting an array of savory dishes and signature cocktails. A tough job, but someone has to do it, right?

Gala Co-chair Bill Schenker, along with committee members Sophie Cripe, Sue Hecht and Tracy Kirwan tasted suggested menu items—from drink specials to hors d’oeuvres, from soups and salads to main courses. And, of course, desserts, too! Executive Chef Paul Gregory prepared a feast of appetizing dishes and the committee then had the difficult decision of selecting a winning dish for each category.

The committee began by sampling a variety of hors d’oeuvres options, which included everything from roasted red and yellow beet skewers to saffron-poached shrimp with cilantro dipping sauce to cheese risotto balls, and much more. When making a final decision on a dish, the committee takes several factors into account including taste, presentation, whether the appetizer can be eaten in one or two bites, and if vegan and gluten-free options are also available.

Following the hors d’oeuvres selection, the committee moved on to determining the menu’s first course. Various soup and salad options were presented to the committee such as a soup option that featured a plated crostini and a chilled soup option with sweet potato, ginger and lemongrass with dried papaya and fresh mango, among others. Once again, the committee members kept in mind taste, presentation, portion size and other factors when making their final selection.

Mouthwatering entrée options included a lobster mac ’n cheese with a duo of sea bass with shiitake mushroom and rosemary sauce and beef tenderloin with a black truffle sauce, a duo of peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin and an orange and ginger-glazed salmon and a vegan, gluten-free option of lasagna with seasonal vegetables. Ultimately, the committee opted to go with a delectable and satisfying dish, keeping in mind that the entrée shouldn’t be too large or overwhelming.

Once the entrée option was finalized, it was time for everyone’s favorite task—selecting a scrumptious dessert. Chef Paul brought out chocolate shells and various flavored mousses, so the committee could mix and match and create the dessert they wanted. A trio of decadent desserts were selected that are guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

And finally, the last decision to be made involved a signature cocktail tasting. The mixologists at the Westin concocted four different cocktails, with the committee selecting creative and refreshing drinks for partygoers.

With a tantalizing menu of culinary creations and libations, not to mention dancing and theatre festivities, the 2017 “Let’s Play” Gala is set to be an enchanting evening, indeed. 

Learn more about the Gala.