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Raise Funds for Hurricane Victims with Slow Food Ojai

Our friends in the Ojai convivium have alerted us to an upcoming event that will benefit victims of the recent hurricane season:

In response to the devastating destruction of those communities in the paths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Rotary Club of Ojai-West Foundation, Inc., Slow Food Ojai, and the Rotary/Interact Club of Nordhoff High School are sponsoring an exciting fundraiser for the victims.

When: Sunday, December 11, 2005, beginning at 4:30pm
Where and Cost: see below

Filmmaker Les Blank will be present for the Ojai Playhouse showing of two of his films about New Orleans culture and cuisine, “Always for Pleasure” and “Yum, Yum, Yum!” After the viewing of these celebrations of the history, customs, and taste of Cajun culture, event participants can continue on to a Louisiana Creole dinner at a splendid Ojai residence.

“Always for Pleasure” takes us on a musical-cultural-eating tour of New Orleans, including the great Allen Toussaint, crayfish at Frankie and Johnny’s and the Wild Tchoupitoulas. “Yum, Yum, Yum!” is one of the most joyous celebrations of the pleasure of eating good food in all of cinema. Steve Grummette (program director of the Ojai Film Society, founder and artistic director of the Ojai Film Festival) enthusiastically supports this event and the owners of the Ojai Playhouse have generously donated the theater for the viewing of these films.

Les Blank has dedicated a sizable portion of his time as a filmmaker to documenting this beautiful world, resulting in films that are as ravishing as they are inquisitive, as vibrantly alive as they are informative. “Although I consider Les Blank to be a quintessentially American filmmaker,” wrote Annette Insdorf in an article for a recent Lincoln Center event, “something about his work reminds me of Jean Renoir. Both are drawn to the rituals of daily live—the meals, music and festivals that bind individuals together into communities.” And as Jay Cocks put it so simply and perfectly, “I can’t believe that anyone interested in movies or America. . .could watch Blank’s work without feeling they’d been granted a casual soft-spoken revelation.”

Les Blank will be present for Q & A at both the Ojai Playhouse and the dinner following the movie. His presence is made possible by donations from Tom and Janice McCormick, Joan Churchill and Alan Barker.

Christine Denney and Wendy Burger, chefs for the event, are co-creating sumptuous southern fare. The menu includes jambalaya, red beans and rice, cornbread, and a favorite New Orleans dessert which is being donated by the Ranch House. They are working together with Slow Food Ojai, TBS personality Claude Mann and Food For Thought. Wine will be provided by Casa Barranca Wines and by Slow Food Ojai. The Rotary/Interact Club members have volunteered to provide support and assistance in running the event. In as much as is possible, the culinary ingredients will be from local purveyors. Suppliers who wish to donate to the pantry for this event are welcome to contact Wendy Burger at 805.646.1040.

Atmospheric music will be in an elegant music room during dinner hours by the Ojai Mardi Gras Band. This excellent group performs traditional and contemporary music of New Orleans. Influenced by classic Mardi Gras Performers such as The Wild Tchoupitoula’s, Dr. John, and The Neville Brothers, the music is infectious and filled with the Delta Groove. Musicians include Patricia Cardinali (vocals and percussion, Don Cardinali (guitar and mandolin), Ron Seba (vocals and guitar), Jack Joshua (bass), Dave Stewart (drums) and special guest Billy Goodrum (piano). For the past 15 years The Ojai Mardi Gras Band has collaborated with other local artists to produce the Ojai Mardi Gras Masquerade Gall as a benefit to local organizations and individuals in need. Their musical talents are offered as a complete donation to the December 11 Hurricane Victim fund raiser.

Ticket purchasers can choose the recipient organization for their donation. Because local non-profit organizations and individuals have already underwritten the costs for this fund raiser, checks for tickets can be written to one of the following charitable organizations: Rotary Club of Ojai-West Foundation, Inc. and Terra Madre Fund. The donation for movie-only tickets is $20 and for movie plus dinner, $75. Tickets for the event are available in Ojai at the stores Attitude Adjustment and Serendipity, or by calling Linda Taylor at 805.646.9892.