Great Taste – Menu Planning for the 2019 “Play Your Part” Gala

Beth Fhaner
 | Aug 13, 2019

Work on SCR’s 2019 Gala (“Play Your Part”, Sept. 7, at The Westin South Coast Plaza), 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 flavorful dishes and signature cocktails. A tough job, but someone has to do it, right?

Gala Chairs Steve and Laurie Duncan, along with Cuisine Committee co-chairs Deirdre Kelly and Bill Schenker and committee members Bette Aitken and Sarah McElroy 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 Adrian Hernandez, who is new to The Westin South Coast Plaza, prepared a feast of savory dishes and the committee then had the incredibly 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 a vegan polenta with vegetable ratatouille to an ahi wonton crisp with watermelon radish to grilled lamb chops with port wine reduction 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 such as a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and burrata cheese, chilled potato and leek soup and a bibb lettuce salad with beets, caramelized walnuts and feta cheese. Once again, the committee kept in mind taste, presentation and portion size when making their final selection.

The group then moved on to making a decision regarding the entrée dishes. Several mouthwatering and appetizing entrée options included filet mignon with a cabernet reduction and rosemary skewered shrimp, short ribs, halibut served with tropical fruit relish, a New York strip steak with peppercorn and scallops with a garlic pesto reduction, plus a vegan option consisting of butternut squash, turkey tofu and sundried tomato and spinach with balsamic glaze. 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 Adrian brought out a variety of tempting treats including grilled peaches and mascarpone, chocolate cake, poached pears and key lime crème brûlée, in addition to a delicious selection of vegan and gluten-free desserts. The committee eventually selected a decadent dessert 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, colorful cocktail options—all of which are vodka-based using Tito’s Handmade Vodka. The committee then narrowed down the choices to select two creative and refreshing drinks for partygoers.

With a tantalizing menu of culinary creations and libations, not to mention dramatic décor, theatrical experiences, live entertainment and dancing, the 2019 “Play Your Part” Gala is set to be a fabulous evening, indeed!

Learn more about the 2019 Gala “Play Your Part.”