Dining for Pride? Maybe it's just my frame of reference, but when I put gay together with food, you know what comes up? Lesbian potluck. Veggie dogs on the grill, hummus and baby carrots, gluten-free quinoa salad on the kitchen table, somebody's foil-covered tray of brownies and a couple pitchers of ginger-peach iced tea.
But there's a whole other world out there, beyond the mismatched Melmac of Oakland and Bernal bohemia. On Friday night, as happy gender revolutionaries were gathering in Dolores Park for the now-annual Trans March (much to the bemused entertainment of those dining at the sidewalk tables of nearby Pizzeria Delfina), a different sort of crowd was sipping rose champagne poured by a buffed and shirtless man with "Free Cocktails" scribbled in body paint across his back, nibbling smoked salmon piled on fat little blinis and chatting about the art that would be auctioned later by wine-country chef and cookbook author Joanne Weir to benefit both AMFAR and the James Beard Foundation in New York. This was the San Francisco Pride Soiree, held at new gallery/event space 12 Gallagher Lane.
The place was hard to find, located down a tiny alley off similarly under-the-radar Clementina Street, between Folsom and Howard Streets south of Market, but once there, hard to miss, thanks to the squadrons of valet parkers, black-suited greeters and the swath of royal-purple carpet pointing to the door. Inside, the show by Hunt Slonem large paintings of cheetahs (or perhaps leopards? Very large house cats with a fetish for fun fur?), butterflies, flowers, parrots, and bunnies--lots and lots of bunnies, a whole wall of frolicking rabbits obviously not yet informed that chef Traci des Jardins (Jardiniere, Mijita, Public House) would be serving fava-bean crostini topped with rabbit en escabeche right below their painted noses.
As you might imagine, being a high profile chef in the Bay Area means being asked nearly constantly to support this or that worthy cause. But, as des Jardins said early in the evening, "There are some things you can't turn down. The Beard Foundation has done a lot for us." Agreed Craig Stoll (Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina), "It's great, it's our opportunity to give back," since the Beard Foundation has long been a champion of up-and-coming chefs in the Bay Area, and AmFAR's decades-long dedication to funding AIDS research has made an immeasurable difference in so many lives.