When my friend Suzan Paek, an avid supporter of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, invited me to a fundraiser for the nonprofit at Charlie Palmer’s, I didn’t expect to sip the #1 champagne in the world!. But, there it was, waiting for me in an elegant gold bottle. The Armand de Brignac champagne, I learned, was voted the best in the world at a blind-tasting of more than 1,000 brands by the world’s most respected wine critics and sommeliers, and I must say, it was fabulous!

The sold-out crowd of 300 was ready to sip and taste (all part of South Coast Plaza’s Summer Food & Wine festival), and the 100 Central Coast and Napa Valley premiere wines and yummy hors d’oeurvres (loved the sliders with homemade pickles!) were just the ticket! Charlie Palmer’s Sommelier Danny Prosser and Dining Room Manager Greg Aiken deserve praise for the great wine and food picks. I noticed the Food Bank’s Joe Schoeningh was looking quite pleased. How could he not? With all ticket monies going to the charity, nearly $52,000 was raised for the cause.