Friday Night Lights in Beverly Hills

After a year and a half of delaying and deferring social events, Beverly Hills broke its long pandemic fast on Sept. 24 with two in-person gatherings to support charitable causes and the arts. Local real estate agent Josh Flagg (of TV’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles) hosted dinner at his home to support Project Angel Food, a charity that delivers meals to people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and others too sick to feed themselves. Only blocks away, equally well-dressed guests attended “The Wallis Delivers: Al Fresco Night,” a star-studded evening gala honoring the city and benefitting The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ artistic, education and outreach programs. Both black-tie events required guests to submit proof of vaccination.  

The Project Angel Food benefit, co-hosted by Flagg and friend Melissa Rivers, saw 120 guests sit down for a $1,000-a-plate dinner, participate in an auction, and listen to music by Grammy-nominated musician Taylor Dayne. The event had initially been scheduled for March 2019 before home remodeling derailed it for the first time. A second attempt ran headfirst into the brick wall of COVID-19. But with over 80% of Beverly Hills vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine and the summer Delta variant surge subsiding, Flagg put the soiree back on the calendar. “Two and a half years later, dinner is finally served,” he joked.

Project Angel Food executive director Richard Ayoub told the Courier that the event–the non-profit’s first in 19 months–represented a celebration of weathering unprecedented times. Project Angel Food saw “explosive growth” in clientele, eight in 10 of whom rely on the organization for daily sustenance. But through all the shortages and shocks, he said, “We never left. We had to keep our doors open.”

(Dinner, incidentally, came courtesy of former Project Angel Food board member Chef Wayne Elias of Crumble Catering, who gave guests the option of stuffed chicken breast, braised short ribs, or soy citrus tofu, with dessert choices including chocolate raspberry ganache cake with gold leaf and Meyer lemon curd tart with meringue and fresh berries.)

At The Wallis, guests gathered in the courtyard for an evening of food (catered by Wally’s) and music. The night was hosted by lauded performer and director Debbie Allen and headlined by Paris Hilton, who deejayed a set of music. In addition to Hilton, the event included entertainment by Grammy-nominated R&B artist Sheléa, soprano Camille Zamora, and jazz pianist Connie Han.

The event saw in attendance the Beverly Hills City Council, including Councilmember John Mirisch. “It was great to be back at The Wallis for live entertainment. Entertainment, including live entertainment, is such an important part of our community and hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy a lot more live entertainment in the next year,” Mirisch told the Courier. “We really missed it.” 

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