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Newport Beach Food and Wine Festival

Poolside at the Island Hotel

Stephanie Salem, Hubert Keller, Kelly Jawor

Poolside at the Island Hotel, the launch party for the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival seemed more like a Bravo network’s “Top Chef” reunion. Chefs Louis Maldonado and Brian Huskey waited at the Patron bar for margaritas while Rick Bayless and Rick Moonen engaged in some deep conversation. Earlier, Hubert Keller huddled with the DJ for a little musical mise en place; the Alsatian chef was scheduled to spin his own set that evening.

Stars mixed it up with foodies and local chefs: Alan Greeley, Pascal Olhats and Yvon Goetz. October 2 was a rare Friday night off for pros who usually cook 24/7 in a highly competitive field. Even so, “Top Chef” was “the best thing to happen to me,” said Moonen, interrupting himself to hug chef Shirley Chung. “Sure there were some grueling hours, but you make so many great friends.”

The gathering, which collected donations for Project Hope Alliance, a charity that fights child homelessness, paused for a few remarks from CEO Jennifer Friend, who said her cause is at times invisible in affluent Orange County, “Let every child know that we see them and that they have a future,” she said.

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