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Insta-Hit: Blue Corn Polenta Sourdough from 61 Hundred Bread in San Juan Capistrano

When the stay-at-home order was first implemented, chef Karlo Evaristo’s newfound passion for sourdough became his main source of income. His bread’s standout purple hue is achieved through a combination of blue corn and butterfly pea flower. Another key ingredient? Freshly milled flour. $15


Chef Paul Cao of Burnt Crumbs Will Compete on Food Network’s “Chopped”

Contestant Paul Cao, as seen on Chopped, Season 46. Photograph courtesy of Food Network

Paul Cao, executive chef-owner of Burnt Crumbs in Irvine and Huntington Beach, is the latest local chef to represent O.C. on Food Network’s “Chopped.” In the episode titled “Soup and Sandwich Savvy,” Cao will face chefs in three rounds of cooking challenges. In each round, they are asked to prepare a soup-and-sandwich duo incorporating all the ingredients (usually unconventional) in a curated basket. The episode airs Sept. 22 at 9 p.m.

We talked to Cao about his experience on the show:

Did you prepare for the show in any way?
In terms of the savory stuff (appetizer and entree), I felt pretty confident. I wasn’t very confident about having something in my back pocket for dessert. I called my chef friends and asked them for easy recipes. Is there anything quick I can make in 20 minutes? I had a churro recipe, an ice cream recipe, and a funnel cake recipe in my back pocket.

Contestant Paul Cao during round 1, as seen on Chopped, Season 46. Photograph courtesy of Food Network

Did the show meet your expectations?
Having watched the show so many times, I felt like I was prepared for whatever they threw at me. In terms of what I expected and what the reality was, it was night and day. It was honestly the hardest cooking thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ve been doing this for about 18 years. I’ll never talk shit on anyone on “Chopped” again. Each round was 30 minutes, but it really felt like two minutes. It goes by so fast, and each round feels like it’s going faster and faster. I would say the time constraints are way harder than what they give you in the baskets. It’s actually more of a mental competition than anything. I have mad props to everyone who’s ever done it. It is way harder than you think.

What does being on “Chopped” mean to you?
I honestly did it for my kids. I have two boys, a four-year-old and a five-year-old. I honestly did it for them because I wanted them to think daddy was cool being on TV. Besides doing it for my kids, I was really proud to represent O.C. on the show. I grew up here, I was born here. Any kind of exposure we can get to bring a little more attention to Orange County is great. I think there’s a lot of talent here.

Both Burnt Crumbs locations are open for patio dining and takeout. Tune into a livestream “Chopped” watching party with Paul Cao on Instagram.

Artist-in-Residence Leads Poetry Workshops at Muckenthaler Cultural Center

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

With master’s degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the University for Peace in Costa Rica, the Orange resident is the founder of the Global Poetry Project, an arts program bringing diverse people together to share their cultures and stories. At the Muck, she aims to foster creativity and a sense of community with a series of poetry workshops.

I’ve done virtual workshops on haiku and rhyme. Participation has been great. We’ve had a range of participants in age—kids all the way through seniors. Most people have been Muck members and have called in from the area, but there have been a few who have called in from New Jersey and other places. I don’t require any writing experience. I want it to be very accessible to everyone. It’s not just about having a haiku workshop; it’s also about bringing people together during this pandemic and getting them to maybe do something new since they’re sitting indoors.

Haikus are traditionally Japanese, and the Japanese sound units are very different than English syllables. It’s commonly taught as 5-7-5 because that’s an easy way to do it, but it’s not a rule that you have to follow. There’s a famous haiku writer named Jane Reichhold, and I learned that from a book that she has. In my first haiku workshop, I said let’s forget about this. There are plenty of rules we have to follow in the pandemic. Let’s ditch that one. I think it’s liberating. It can be fun for people to count syllables, but I find it cumbersome.

I started the Global Poetry Project when I was teaching at Concordia University in the (English as a second language) department. My students—who were coming from all around the world—were talking to me about their immersion experiences. I thought, let’s give the domestic students on campus poetry and literature from places where all my international students are from so they can learn about them. That’s how it started. I think there were 22 different cultures and languages represented. The poems were put in displays all around the campus. So there were poems in their native languages and in the English translation. And we had a poetry reading and some of the (ESL) students got to read poems in their native languages and share and meet students and faculty who they might not have gotten to know otherwise.

(At U Peace), I partnered with a group of Central American students who were doing a dialogue series on the history and politics of Central America. The student population is so diverse at U Peace, 50-plus nationalities. Sometimes when you put things up in a hallway, there’s no guarantee someone is going to stand there and read it. But if it’s on the bathroom door or above the urinal, they don’t have a choice. As I began researching, there’s actually a lot of politics around toilets and the use of public bathrooms. It fit the project quite well. That was fun because the involvement was high. There were poems in every single stall and above every urinal on campus.

Fall Poetry Series

A Chat with the Owner of Dice House, a Board Game Store in Fullerton

What are some differences between traditional board games and the ones you sell?
Ours tend to have a lot more depth. Traditional games like Monopoly and Yahtzee are pretty luck based. With the games I carry, they have dice and chance, but they involve more strategy. In a game like Catan, you’re bartering with your friends. There might be a story or you might get to play a character.

How did you get into this industry?
I was in college and my then-girlfriend wanted me to have a job. She walked by this store called The Game Castle (in Fullerton). She got me a job, and I worked there for 13 years.

What made you decide to open your own store?
Once the owner of The Game Castle decided to close shop, I thought, “Why don’t I just open up my own game store?” So I did that, which was a really dumb idea because it was in 2008, right during the recession. The first three or four years were pretty rough, but we survived. They say if you can survive the first few years, you’re OK. The whole thing is building a community.

Are people playing board games more often now?
Definitely. I have a very loyal community of customers here, and that’s what they’ve been doing. They were playing games before (the pandemic), and now they’re like, “Well, it’s just an excuse to play more games.” One key thing is a lot of couples who are isolating have been coming in and buying out all of my two-player games.

Uprising O.C.’s Signature Burnt Basque Cheesecake

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

The signature burnt Basque cheesecake from Uprising O.C. is a rebellious take on the traditional cheesecake—baked at a higher heat and for a much shorter time. This yields a characteristic caramelized surface and a light, smooth texture you’ll crave for days. Order a whole cake for $50 (feeds eight to 16) and expect a personal delivery by chef Joshua Lozano. This month, he launched a beer collaboration with Huntington Beach-based Riip Beer Company inspired by his signature item featuring graham crackers and caramelized lemons.

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🚨BEER SNOBS & CRAFT ROYALTY🚨 The day has come the day is Today @uprising.oc and @riipbeer collaboration is out!! I got the opportunity to brew up some wild with the fam at @riipbeer . . . . I got to join @ianbrewsbeer and the team to build this entire beer from the ground up to compliment and pair with the #originalrebelcheesecake . . . @tehachapigrainproject 100 Generation Rye and Sonora White Wheat were used along with graham cracker in the mash to mimic the crust. We sourced local lemons, grilled and caramelized them before adding to the kettle. A healthy dose of milk sugar and nitrogen carbonation give this beer a silky, almost creamy texture. Sorry NO crowlers or growlers, due to nitrogen carbonation. #originalrebelcheesecake

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5 Questions with Chef-Owner Joshua Lozano

What inspired you to start making this type of cheesecake?
It began as a total accident; I have always been very curious and hungry to try new recipes. When my family proposed to me that they wanted cheesecake for dessert one night, I saw it as a perfect excuse to try something new. This type of cheesecake was very appealing to me because it is the exact opposite way I have always been taught to make a cheesecake. Typically to make one it is cooked low and slow in a Bane Marie and with our original rebel cheesecake it is cooked very hot and very fast. This is how you achieve such deep caramelization and the creaminess inside.

What is the price range for your cheesecakes?
If you order from us, it is $50 for a 10” cheesecake. It can feed anywhere from 8-16 people depending on your portion size. We are working on some wholesale accounts and perhaps offering different sizes for people. 

What other items do you offer?
We offer a hyper-seasonal treat menu which can range from cookies and panna cotta to cakes and pies. Our menu currently is very limited being a one-man operation and is hyper-seasonal because I get my ingredients from the local farmers markets each week. 

What’s the best way for people to order?
Currently, until our website is up and running we are taking orders through direct messaging on Instagram and payment through Venmo. 

What’s next?
We are looking at a place to call home in Santa Ana. So, until then we are delivering all over Southern California from deep in the Inland Empire to East Los Angeles and everything in between.


CherryHills Market at Pacific City Offers Home Decor and More

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Huntington Beach resident Brandon Lewis began CherryHills Market as an online shop. Now customers can peruse his farmhouse-style storefront where they’ll find an assortment of home decor and accessories, gourmet food products, jewelry and candles made by local artisans, and more. “We’re like a gift store on steroids; there’s a little bit of something for everybody,” Lewis says. “It’s not just a place to come shop—it’s a place to be inspired.”

How did you start CherryHills Market?
It started in 2014 as an online business. It was a (collaboration) with my partner Justin Scott. He was more on the logistics and branding side of things, and my passion came in with the food products that we would sell. Fast-forward to 2015: We went to the Orange County Fair, and we had a booth. Recruiters from the Pacific City mall were walking around and saw us, and they were looking for store holders. We went into the agreement as a pop-up vendor temporarily for a year. Here we are now with a permanent lease.

You have such a wide array of products. How do you choose what to carry?
I’m highly influenced by my grandmother. She had a lot of trinkets and knickknacks. Also whatever is inspiring me at the time. Right now, it’s a lot of themes that have to do with equality and center around love. I also look for things you can’t find on Amazon. That’s my biggest thing really, which takes a lot of work in itself, but just making sure that we remain unique. We have chocolate jalapeno balsamic vinegar and lavender aged balsamic.

Decor and house-made spices from CherryHills Market in Huntington Beach. Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Can you share details of the spices?
We make our spices in-house. I hand grind and blend them in the shop every two weeks, so they’re always fresh. Sweet onion sugar is a secret weapon of ours. Our most popular spice is called Cocoa Joe. The cocoa part in the name is dark cocoa sugar and the Joe part of the name comes from coffee, which is a natural meat tenderizer.

What do you see locals shopping for?
Locals come in to fill up on their oil and vinegar. We sell quality olive oil that’s from California; and our balsamic vinegar is imported from Italy, but it’s aged really thick and delicious. Our bring-back program basically means you buy any products with our brand name—our olive oil or spices—and you’ll get a discount on a refill. Also beach-themed decor. If your decor is in blues, teals, things of that nature, come see us.

Tell us about the cooking and craft classes you offer.
(With the pandemic), we’re going to condense things so instead of classes being open to the public, it’s private events only. We have cooking classes where you can make ravioli or French almond macaron cookies. We always do a pumpkin succulent workshop. We take pumpkins and live succulents and place them on top of live moss (inside the pumpkin) so they can live and breathe. We have appetizers using the products in our store, and wine, too, so that’s a lot of fun. Our CBD class is free. Bloom Farms is the name of the brand (we carry), and there’s a representative who comes out from the company and gives all the information there is to know about CBD.


The New Romantics: Hollywood’s Rising Stars in Fall Fashion

Photograph by Ben Duggan

Birgundi Baker
“The Chi”
Baker, 28, has always had the performing arts in her blood. Growing up, the North Carolina native often drove to New York with her family to watch her aunt perform in student acting showcases at Juilliard. Through her performance as Kiesha Williams on Lena Waithe’s Showtime drama “The Chi,” Baker hopes to amplify the voices of missing and abused Black women. In the third season, which aired in June, Baker’s character was promoted to a series regular. She’ll also play the main character in the forthcoming short film “Circuit,” which sheds light on human trafficking.

CAFTAN $1,200, Carmen Molina, carmenmolina.com
DRESS $2,560, Brock Collection, modaoperandi.com
SHOES $695, Mia Becar, miabecar.com
EARRINGS (right) $595, GLOVES, $495, and BRACELET (right), $1,195, Saint Laurent, South Coast Plaza, 714-429-0101
NECKLACE Audrey C. Fine Jewelry, audreycjewelry.com
CUFF Sofio Gongli
EARRINGS (left) Melinda Maria, melindamaria.com

Photograph by Ben Duggan

Auli’i Cravalho
“The Power” and “All Together Now”
Even if you haven’t seen Cravalho in a movie before, you’ve probably heard her: The 19-year-old native Hawaiian actress made her debut as the voice of Disney’s Moana in 2016. Now she’s cementing her place in Hollywood with leading roles in the forthcoming Amazon Prime series “The Power” and in the teen Netflix movie “All Together Now,” which dropped in August. Cravalho also generated buzz in April when she came out as bisexual via TikTok.

DRESS $3,600 and SOCKS Price upon request, Dior, South Coast Plaza, 714-549-4700
SHOES $695, Mia Becar, miabecar.com
RING $1,500, BRACELET (top) $17,000, and BRACELET (bottom) $9,000, Tiffany & Co., South Coast Plaza, 714-540-5330

Photograph by Ben Duggan

Javicia Leslie
In preparation for her upcoming titular role in the CW series “Batwoman,” Leslie, 33, has taken up muay thai. Leslie made waves in the entertainment industry when, after the sudden departure of then-lead Ruby Rose, it was announced that she would become the first Black or bisexual actress to play Batwoman. “I knew that this was something that was just so much bigger, and it made me kind of reevaluate (the role),” Leslie says. “Even though I’m doing something I love, I get to change the world while I do it.” The new season premieres January 2021.

JACKET $1,790, TOP $575, SKIRT $1,290, and TIGHTS $65, Max Mara, South Coast Plaza, 714-754-7900
RINGS $8,500 (index finger) and $1,120 (ring finger) WATCH $31,100, Cartier, South Coast Plaza, 714-540-8231

Photograph by Ben Duggan

Josephine Langford
“After We Collided”
Before Langford, 22, made it in Hollywood, she passed out flyers in a shopping center while wearing an Elmo costume. “It gets really sweaty in the suit,” the Australian actress says. “I think I got in trouble once because a kid dabbed and I dabbed back.” Because of her 2019 breakout performance as Tessa Young in the movie “After,” Langford won’t have to return to the Elmo suit anytime soon. Many say the “After” series, based on the popular books by Anna Todd, is positioned to be the next “Twilight.” The sequel, “After We Collided,” premieres Sept. 2.

DRESS, BELT, and SHOES, Chanel, South Coast Plaza, 714-754-7455

Photograph by Ben Duggan

Ramona Young
“Never Have I Ever”
Young, 22, had a minor role on “Santa Clarita Diet,” and her performance as a deadpan drug store clerk earned her a reputation as a certified scene-stealer. Now Young is receiving praise for subverting Asian American stereotypes in her portrayal of Eleanor Wong—a boy-obsessed, theater-loving teen—on Mindy Kaling’s new coming-of-age comedy series “Never Have I Ever.” The prolific actress says she also wants to write, produce, and make her own movies. During quarantine, she has been working on a 19th-century Western about a Chinese heroine’s journey to rescue her long-lost father.

CAFTAN $1,200 and SKIRT $645, Carmen Molina, carmenmolina.com
SHIRT $795, Philosophy, philosophyofficial.com
SHOES $748, Tory Burch, South Coast Plaza, 714-689-0450
NECKLACE $2,145, Dru, drujewelry.com
RING (right middle) Price upon request, Bea Bongiasca, beabongiasca.com
RING (left index) $600, Bondeye Jewelry, bondeyejewelry.com
RINGS (right index and left middle), Sofio Gongli
WATCH Blancpain Villeret, blancpain.com

Photographer: Ben Duggan
Fashion Director and Stylist: Stefan Campbell
Leslie: Makeup Dion Xu / Hair Sean Fears
Baker: Hair Tiffany Daughtery, Celestine Agency / Makeup Kai Pritchard
Cravalho: Hair and Makeup Kelly Shew
Langford: Hair Clayton Hawkins, A-Frame Agency / Makeup Kristin Hilton
Young: Hair and Makeup Sarah Huggins

Special Dining Events in O.C. This Week

When good news can be hard to come by, it’s exciting to learn about options for a delicious meal out, in a safe environment, with entertainment included—though perhaps in a different format than we expect. Several restaurants in Orange County have gotten creative with special prix-fixe meals and offerings to take your mind off reality, for just a few hours. Here are a few examples of our local creatives doing what they do best.

Photograph courtesy of Fable & Spirit

Fable & Spirit
The folks at our pick for Restaurant of the Year keep innovating and collaborating in fresh ways. Case in point: teaming with the Lido Theater to host prix-fixe dinners under the historic marquee on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the next few months. This week’s theme is Southern Fried, featuring a green zebra tomato salad, fried chicken, bacon collard greens, and peach crisp ($40). You’ll sit outside, gaze at the mosaic tiles, neon lights, and historic ticket booth, while taking in themed music and delighting in an atmosphere that feels quaint and safe. Keep an eye on social media for each week’s theme and menu to match.

The final two weeks of the Summer Jazz Lunch at Bayside series, in collaboration with The Barclay Theatre, take place this month. Be treated to phenomenal jazz musicians—Anthony Wilson this Saturday and the Jeff Hamilton Trio on Sept. 26—while dining on a three-course lunch ($90 and up). The restaurant makes sure the tables are socially distanced and outdoors, so you can relax and lose yourself in the music and the savory food from Bayside.

Café Jardin
What better spot to relax than a patio at Sherman Gardens? Taking full advantage of the beautiful space and our temperate weather, Chef Pascal Olhats and his team host Dinner for Two Under the Stars on Thursday nights ($130 per person). Dive into a four-course French extravaganza while watching the sun go down and the lights come up in a location made for romance.

Experience Brooklyn’s Ethnic, Eclectic, and Electric Neighborhoods


Experience Brooklyn’s ethnic, eclectic, electric neighborhoods, where you’ll find bustling streets lined with buzzworthy restaurants and unique entertainment, as well as delis serving bagels that are a schmear delight for the palate. Most of the action is on Manhattan Avenue. The borough is also a draw for artists, creatives, and young professionals who enjoy the intimate yet polyglot village vibe.

Get Inside The Box
Greenpoint, nicknamed “Little Poland,” boasts one of the sweetest boutique hotels in Brooklyn. The Box House Hotel—where “Project Runway” contestants have stayed—is close to North Williamsburg and the East River. Choose spacious lofts with full kitchens or standard rooms ($199 and up). Enjoy silent movies projected on a wall at the casual restaurant and bar, which offers creative American cuisine and signature cocktails.

Enjoy the airy rooms at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Photograph courtesy of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Expressive Espresso
Caffeinate at Café Grumpy, a nerd favorite, at its original location at 193 Mesarole. Beans are roasted on-site, and the coffee is Kosher-certified. Lena Dunham’s “Girls” was filmed here, as were several NY police procedurals. Its location next to Broadway Stages, a production studio where shows such as “Blue Bloods” and “The Good Wife” have been recorded, make it a mocha mecca for actors in need of a jolt.

Ogle The Art
Though not as well-known as its Manhattan counterparts, the Brooklyn Museum at 200 Eastern Parkway is home to an impressive collection, including pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, and Edgar Degas. The museum ($16) also offers temporary exhibitions that are innovative and experimental.

Get Culinary Cred
Karczma on Greenpoint Avenue is the “let’s get Polish food” hot spot according to locals. Order A Plate of Polish Specialties ($15.50) including kielbasa, pierogis, and potato pancakes, or challenge your taste buds with dishes such as tripe soup ($6), grilled blood sausage ($10), or roasted hocks in beer ($14). Then stroll to admire Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church, a beautiful Gothic-style church at the corner of Humboldt Street and Driggs Avenue.

Park Yourself
Adjacent to the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s Central Park—585 acres dotted with monuments, from the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch to the JFK Memorial. Take time here: Relax on the grass of Long Meadow, or wander about and wonder at the large Art Deco Bailey Fountain and the Botanical Gardens, including the fascinating Trail of Plant Evolution and Shakespeare Garden.

Savor the Middle Eastern mezze at Glasserie. Photograph courtesy of Glasserie

Be Bowled Over
Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg is a happy hybrid: In addition to 16 bowling lanes, it’s also a concert venue where food is prepared by one of Brooklyn’s leading names in restaurants, Blue Ribbon. Watch the show and bop along to the music in the Bowlers’ Lounge. The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell ($35) are scheduled for Sept. 24.

Be Smart, Visit Dumbo
Easy to get to by ferry, this historic former factory and warehouse district (“Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”) is lined with cobblestone streets intersected by trolley tracks. It’s home to boutiques, high-end restaurants, and art galleries as well as performing arts center St. Ann’s Warehouse. If you’re not into boutique hotels, consider staying at the luxurious, eco-conscious 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. The airy rooms are amazing ($399 and up), and its rooftop features a plunge pool and sensational views of iconic New York sights including the Statue of Liberty.

Eat With Locals
Consider dinner at Glasserie, formerly the home of Greenpoint Glassworks. Savor innovative Middle Eastern mezze such as feta and pear tabouli ($13) or consider tucking into luscious lamb chops, turnips, and capers ($32) or palate-pleasing pumpkin couscous and broccolini ($24). Afterward stroll to Dupont Street and feel at home with families enjoying Newton Barge Playground. Restaurant Le Fond is another favorite. Conversation is easy and audible at this laid-back eatery, famous for rustic French food and sensational sauces.

Mark Your Calendar
Sept. 28 through Oct. 5:
The Brooklyn Book Festival Virtual Fest brooklynbookfestival.org

Virtual Giving: Fundraising When Traditional Galas Are Out of the Question

Illustration by Hannah Agosta

The virus was definitely a thing, but it still seemed far away. A cruise-ship thing.

Then in a snap, days before the big gala in March for Orange County School of the Arts, everything started to shut down. The COVID-19 numbers skyrocketed; the governor signaled closures.

My neighbor Greg McCollum’s phone piled up with messages: “What is the school going to do?”

Straw bales for the haystack bar were piled up in the warehouse ready to go. The rustic wooden chandeliers were dusted. The whiskey was chilling, and the fiddlers were tuning. Dozens of student performers had spent months perfecting their Western-themed numbers.

“It knocked the wind right out of us,” says McCollum, one of six honorary co-chairs for the annual OCSA gala.  “We realized: ‘Oh, wow. This show’s coming down.’ We’d put so much time and energy into it. We couldn’t believe it was happening.”

As it did for thousands of other donors, patrons, and volunteers, the coronavirus put an immediate stop to the many months of planning, courting, and finessing that go into every charitable fundraiser.

McCollum called friends from Chicago, who were flying in to attend the gala: “Turn back now.”

“We’re on the jet bridge at O’Hare,” they told him. “We’re almost to our seats.”

In a county built during the last half century on fundraisers, the future has become uncertain. This month, the social season traditionally begins, but the dance bands have all been stilled. The pandemic has left many organizations wondering how they are going to survive without the big-ticket parties.

“For years, the fundraisers have provided a gathering space here,” says Brie Griset Smith, chief development officer at Discovery Science Foundation. Griset Smith is a fifth-generation county resident who traces her lineage back to our iconic bean farms. “Orange County is special in that way. We connect with one another when we’re in a space together, when we hear stories about the impact we create.”

A few of my favorite black-tie events normally kick off the season this month: the gala for Discovery Cube Orange County, which has turned into a big costume party; the soulful, candlelit Romance of the Mission; and the jaw-
droppingly dramatic (think giant dragons) South Coast Repertory gala.

Some organizations haven’t decided how to move forward without the fundraisers. Several postponed their big events, only to have to delay them further. Others have come up with alternatives to the gala, development ideas that could result in additional sources of funding.

Leaders of OCSA have been happily surprised that most donors who had already purchased gala tickets did not demand refunds. Events scheduled for this month and beyond might not fare as well. By summer, Discovery had raised $150,000 of the $500,000 it normally nets at the gala, which had become the talked-about masquerade event in the social season, with guests going to extremes to sport the best costumes, including, recently, an Iron Man get-up made on three 3D printers in five countries. Griset Smith and her team have come up with what they hope is an innovative solution to making up the deficit—a sponsorship model, allowing patrons to underwrite projects they feel strongly about.

The Pacific Symphony also had to improvise for the annual opening event party scheduled for Sept. 26. Although this could change, the plan as of midsummer was to break up the event into backyards. Instead of buying a table for 10, patrons host 10 friends in their backyards, with music performances, a catered dinner, and the opening night on the big screen.

A significant 21 percent of the Pacific Symphony’s contributions budget of $11 million comes from fundraisers. With ticket sales making up 26 percent of the orchestra’s budget, the organization must now rely more heavily on the generosity of donors. The symphony lucked out this year in that its biggest fundraiser occurred days before the state was shut down.

“The annual fund can be impacted,” President John Forsyte says. “We’ve been very blessed by the generosity we’ve seen. We’ve had a meaningful increase in small donations.”

OCSA originally postponed the gala for a few months, and now it is scheduled for spring of 2021. Organizers also plan to host an online auction later this month. The school often boasts creative auction items, and this year, the high bidder gets to test new luxury cars in Napa Valley as part of a special event.

OCSA officials believe they might make up a few losses with the auction being online.

“That’s an advantage,” says OCSA founder and executive director Ralph Opacic. “A lot of folks can’t go to fundraising events because they get priced out. This will allow us to include anyone who wants to participate, which could actually increase giving.”

Opacic, along with many of the nonprofit leaders, tells me that without physical fundraisers, communication with their base has become more important. The school has gone virtual for its students and stakeholders with master classes taught by nationally renowned artists, a virtual opera, and an internet art show.

“What’s important is for nonprofits to demonstrate virtually or non-virtually the value they bring to their stakeholder groups,” Opacic says. “As long as we can continue to show value, those people will continue to give.”

He’s dead right about keeping the relationships going. Relationships are why people give.

Griset Smith says it better than I could: “It’s because of the way we’ve been able to gather in Orange County that we’ve gotten to the point where we are right now. By gathering our desires and our dreams and our hopes and having them made true in Orange County—does it now mean we have to continue to do it physically, together? Or is what’s really special the way we can identify and use the same beliefs to get people to support what they believe in—to find another way to do it?”

We have been on such a roll here with our generosity toward our arts and cultural groups and helping the less fortunate in recent decades. I hope and pray she’s right.