So here’s what happened last night (recounted through the wooly head of someone who tried to drink all the Au Bon Climat in the house):
The auction started, and almost from the get go, the lots were going for north of $25-$30,000.
Most of these “lots” consisted of a travel package (including lots of private jet or first-class tickets) for you and 6-8-10 of your friends to stay in some fancy digs (or a California winemaker’s home), get lots of bottles of top shelf wine, and be cooked for by some famous celebrity chef — sometimes over multiple days.
We tried to twitter as these impressive bids were being made, but the Venetian Ballroom was not cell phone friendly (at least not to our iPhone).
We weren’t keeping track, but if the fourteen or so lots went for an average of 40k/package, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation had to take in at least half a mil from the auction alone.
Throughout the bidding, all we kept mumbling to ourselves was: “The recession must be over.”
Keep in mind, when yours truly was the auctioneer for a (much smaller) James Beard Foundation Charity Auction exactly a year ago, we couldn’t coax the crowd into bidding hundreds of dollars for much of anything.
Sensing our failing (and trying to help) at the end of the auction last year, Charlie Trotter lept onto the stage and offered to personally cook and entertain 6 people at his home. There were no takers if memory serves.
At the end of the auction last night, as things were winding down, Trotter again took the stage, and grabbed the mike.
His first words were: “Enough of this bullshit.” (He wasn’t smiling. Charlie Trotter doesn’t smile a lot. He sort of grins, occasionally.)
The raucous crowd (of over a thousand) fell silent. Emeril looked stunned.
Trotter then began his ramble about how he was going to top everyone with his donation. About thirty seconds in, he stopped, looked at Emeril standing at stage left, and said: “Emeril, come here…come here! “
Emeril walked towards him with all the zeal he must feel when visiting the cardiologist.
“Now kiss me on the lips….on the lips!”
The point of this was unclear to ELV and everyone else (including poor Emeril) at the time.
Emeril didn’t exactly comply with the enthusiasm of someone who’d been down this road before, and just sorta stood there whilst CT planted a big one on him.
More squirming, more silence. You might say it was deafening. Madonna and Britney it was not.
Undaunted, and perhaps more than a little lubricated, CT proceeded to tell everyone how he would cook for a crowd, personally, at his house, if the bidding got bold.
“I’ll personally cook for you and your friends at my house,” he said, and then, again, he stopped himself.
“No, NO….it’s a fucking MANSION! I live in a MANSION. Okay, excuse my language, but I’ll cook for you at my MANSION!”
At this point ELV took another drink (something Trotter didn’t need), and didn’t know what to be more embarrassed about: The size of Charlie’s ego, his profane rambling, the size of his house …er…MANSION!….or how it felt to be poor, hapless Emeril up there.
Cooler heads eventually wrested the microphone from him, and a bunch of charitable folks (Emeril, Mario, Larry Ruvo, Larry Stone, et al) kept piling addenda on Trotter’s residential largesse until the crowd stopped squirming. And gosh darn it if the final bid for the ultimate tour of Chez Trotter didn’t go for 180,000 clams.
Which is a lot o’ lettuce.
That we’re sure Charlie’s mansion can hold. Just ask him.
ELV is inspired to haiku:
Raises cash for Emeril
Best forget method