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Joining me at the OC Food Bank's "Soiree in the Vineyard" were, from left, Jeannie, Ruth Ann and Richard Moriarty

Joining me at the Orange County Food Bank’s “Soiree in the Vineyard” were, from left, Jeannie, Ruth Ann and Richard Moriarty

The Orange County Food Bank’s “Soiree in the Vineyards to End Hunger in Orange County” was a family affair, with vineyard owner Richard Moriarty holding forth at his Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery in Newport Beach, his sister Jeanne Moriarty chairing the nonprofit fundraiser and their mother, Ruth Ann Moriarty, attending to support her children’s efforts.

Richard welcomed sponsors and underwriters at a VIP reception in his garage. It’s not your normal garage, mind you. It houses a ’61 Jaguar, an ’84 Maserati Quattroporte, a ’74 Porsche, and a ’96 Pontiac Trans AM. And, then there’s the Lamborghini stand-alone engine that Richard cranked up to get everyone’s attention after they’d had a few glasses of his Bordeaux-style wines, which he grows on the premises. Maybe you didn’t know there was a vineyard and winery in Newport Beach! Richard introduced Antonello Ristorante chefs Gino Buonanoce and Salvatore Ferrara, who were preparing risotto by tossing hot arborio rice with butter inside a huge wheel of Parmesan cheese and topping it with black truffle shavings. I have never seen such big truffle shavings! Needless to say, the risotto was divine! Those interested in seeing Richard’s Lamborghini (yes, a real car) mounted on the wall in his home above his private wine cellar provided some fun photo ops.

The festivities for the 150-guest party continued in the vineyard, where saxophonist Jerry Mandel and his fellow jazz musician friends entertained, and appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts were offered buffet-style, as well as a plethora of wines from several tasting bars. Guests especially enjoyed visiting the winery’s wine cave, where the wines are barrel-fermented. Jeanne introduced Orange County Food Bank’s Director Mark Lowry, who said the nonprofit’s 48-year history includes distributing nearly 20 million pounds of food annually to 400 nonprofit agencies throughout the county, including soup kitchens, churches, shelters, and social service agencies. Jeanne, involved with the nonprofit since 2011, said, “When I heard that one out of four children in Orange County are hungry, that’s when I became involved.”

Auctioneer Jim Nye presided over a spontaneous “Wild Card Live Auction,” which drew such offerings as studio time with a music producer, a flight to Catalina, a private dinner with Chef Pascal Olhats, and a South Coast Plaza VIP shopping experience. Together with a “Fund a Need” call for donations, the effort surpassed its fundraising goal of $50,000. Hear, Hear!

Selected photos by Peggy & Patrick McDonnell

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