Showing posts with label events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label events. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Glamour Meets The Blogger at Blogger Prom 2010: Hollywood Confidential

The Blogger Prom Committee (that's me on the right!)
Photo credit:

Happy Go Marni is mostly home to baked goods, step-by-step photos, and food thoughts. But part of my identity is simply as blogger. And last Wednesday, Blogger Prom 2010: Hollywood Confidential made its grand entrance! After months and months of planning by the Blogger Prom Committee, of which I'm part, the day had arrived to put down the pencils, or keyboards, stop planning, and just have fun and enjoy the moment! And enjoy we did!

A welcome sign as you enter the lobby of Yamashiro

The event took place at the gorgeous, and historic, even haunted (!!), Yamashiro Restaurant in the hills of Hollywood. You know the views are going to be spectacular when you have to drive up a steep, curvy hill to reach the secluded restaurant at the top.

Blogger Prom is an exclusive, invite-only event for bloggers and their +1s, a chance for bloggers who only know each other by URL or twitter handle to meet in person.

The stunning view of the city from Yamashiro
Photo credit:

Gigantic doors at the entrance to Yamashiro
Photo credit:

This is the 2nd year for Blogger Prom. Last year was 80s-themed. This year, to do something completely different, we chose another era, the 1940s, and completely transformed ourselves and the venue into Golden Age of Hollywood 1940s glamour. It was so much fun to choose accessories, a dress, and even a hairstyle that reflected the era. The Blogger Prom Committee members were invited by the fabulous Studio DNA in Los Angeles for complete hair and makeup transformations. They treated us to mimosas and worked with us to get the look we each desired. My curly hair is not the easiest thing to take care of, so I don't usually hand it over to someone else to style. But I completely trusted the gals at Studio DNA, and with a curling iron, a whole lot of bobby pins, and even more hairspray, they gave me a 1940s wave up-do and attached my grandmother's hat to my hair! I love the look! Thank you so much, Studio DNA, for making me feel glamorous!

My glamour shot
Photo credit:

Blogger Prom 2010 was so well-planned, we had thought of everything! There was even a designated driving service called Y Drive stationed outside near the valet so attendees could be driven home safely (the driver drives YOUR car and packs his scooter in the trunk so he can get back to the party venue).

Yamashiro is truly beautiful. Once you've driven up the winding road to the top, you enter the party through gigantic, grand doorways into an amazing courtyard with walkways on all four sides. The party made use of the entire space, plus a bar area and a room with a million dollar view. I must say, working with Yamashiro to plan this prom could not have been more ideal. The entire staff at Yamashiro were so helpful and hospitable, and the venue itself is so fabulous, I just can't say enough positive things about Yamashiro!

The beautiful courtyard at Yamashiro
plus our twitterfeeds on a giant screen

The food at Blogger Prom was incredible! Chef Brock of Yamashiro, who is absolutely adorable and charming, not to mention uber-talented, prepared and personally served his signature tacos for guests. Barrie Lynn, the cheese impresario, was on hand to pair cheeses with your beverage of choice, plus, she even encouraged putting some delicious spreadable cheese on candy brittle! Wha? Coolhaus, the ice cream sandwich truck, had a booth and was serving up delicious ice cream flavors like Strawberry Jalapeno and Chocolate Orange Cointreau (which I ordered because I'm nuts for chocolate and orange together). Crumbs Bake Shop contributed mini cupcakes for the night. ChocolateBox Cafe provided an assortment of chocolates.

Chef Brock of Yamashiro preparing his signature tacos for long lines
of anxiously awaiting bloggers
Photo credit:

Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches!!! Usually they're a food truck,
but for Blogger Prom, they were a station!

Crumbs Cupcakes station

Choosing chocolates at the ChocolateBox station

We even had liquor sponsors, and our very own Committee Member Natalie Bovis who runs The Liquid Muse invented a signature cocktail drink just for us.

A few weeks ago I approached my friend Heather Kincaid, who I know from grad school at USC. She is now a professional photographer and I find myself constantly ooohing and ahhhing over her photography blog that features weddings and portraits and all sorts of other exciting events. The photos are so clever, beautiful, and playful. I asked Heather to be the official Blogger Prom photographer, and she said yes (haha it's as if I proposed to her!). Heather's photos from Blogger Prom are amazing. Visit her site for lots and lots of photos, including both color and black and white . She also blogged about her favorite photos of the night here.

And here I am with photographer Heather, all dolled up!

Heather and Marni
Photo credit:

DJ Steve provided us with great music from the era. Lots of big band, jazz, Sinatra, that sort of thing. And behind the dance floor was a giant projector screen, the entire size of the wall, where we had the movie Sunset Boulevard playing silently with subtitles. Aren't we clever! And speaking of giant projector screens, out in the courtyard, there was another giant projector screen, but this one wasn't displaying a movie. It was displaying twitterfeeds that mentioned Blogger Prom. Bloggers were on their cell phones tweeting away the evening and checking to see if they had won any of the awesome giveaway prizes the Committee had collected from sponsors.

But whether or not you won a prize, everyone went home with a gift bag filled with fun, and in some cases really valuable goodies. A $100 gift certificate for eye lash extensions at LuxLash, a $20 gift certificate to Border Grill in downtown, a free facial at Dermalogica, $25 to spend at, Unite hair products, free Sprinkles cupcake coupons, tickets to the Grammy Museum, and more! Read about all the gift bag items here.

Showing off one of the 200+ gift bags we stuffed until
late Monday night before the prom

The committee hanging out in the bridal suite at Yamashiro one night
before Blogger Prom, finishing up the last of the preparations

The partying continued even after Yamashiro closed its doors. Test Kitchen hosted our after party! From 11pm to 1am, and yes, on a school night, we met up at this almost underground establishment, sipping specialty drinks as we got sleepier and sleepier. I'm going to need a long period of recovery from this midweek party craziness!

Last year, attendance to Blogger Prom was completely free. This year, the committee selected a charity we could all get behind, Operation Frontline, and required a $10 donation to the organization for attendance to Blogger Prom. People purchased their donation via Goldstar, and some attendees generously gave much more than required. We were moved by how surprisingly sweet bloggers could be! It is not too late to donate. Regardless of if you attended Blogger Prom or not, Goldstar has left the donation page open to the public for a few more weeks. Operation Frontline helps families with nutrition education. If you're feeling generous, donate here, and help more families learn to prepare healthy meals at home.

@TaraMetBlog and @laocfoodie
Photo credit:

@carolineoncrack, @happygomarni, and the hand of @shopeatsleep
This photo should host a caption contest!
Photo credit:

@squashblossom and @estarla manning the Check-In Table

As this was a blogger event, dozens of blog posts are popping up, post-event, to recap the evening. Take a look at some of the coverage, including from The LA Times and Brand X!! I am so proud to be a part of something so cool, so unique and special, and I've made so many new blogger friends along the way. Blogger Prom 2010 is one of the brightest spots of the year for me.

Some of the Blogger Prom 2010 Coverage:

LA Times: Parties: Blogger Prom's Take on Old Hollywood Glamour
Brand X: Blogger Prom 2010: LA's Twitterati Goes Glam
Recessionista: Getting on My Vintage Vogue for the Los Angeles Blogger Prom
When Tara Met Blog: Blogger Prom 2010
Shop Eat Sleep: All the Glitz and Glamour: Blogger Prom 2010 Hollywood Confidential
L.A. and O.C. Foodventures: I've Been Busy
Confessions of a Fat Girl: COFG Goes to Blogger Prom...Again!
Kevin Eats: Blogger Prom 2010
Franklin Avenue: Scenes From the 2nd Blogger Prom
Sure Beats Work: Blogger Prom v2.0
Marian the Foodie: Event Recap: Blogger Prom 2010 - 9/22/10
Caroline on Crack: Studio DNA: On How to be Lovely for Blogger Prom
Hey Hey Scenesters: Blogger Prom 2010
Busy Beth's Blog: Blogger Prom 2010 - Hollywood Confidential
Diana Takes a Bite: Blogger Prom 2010: Living the Glamorous Life
Naked City: The Blogger Prom is Decadent and Delightful
Fete LA: Getting Hollywood Confidential
Here, Eat This!: Blogger Prom 2010 at Yamashiro
Once There was a Girl...: Hollywood Confidential

Photo Album!

Beginning with the committee doing hair and makeup at Studio DNA...




The back of my do

@carolineoncrack, @squashblossom, @estarla all beautified!


My grandmother's hat!

Here is a sampling of the amazing attire people donned at Blogger Prom!

Glamorous poses with friends...

@amandajoy, @happygomarni, @valleyfilmfest

@intellichick, @happygomarni

@toastymuffin, @happygomarni

@shopeatsleep, @happygomarni, @tarametblog

@estarla, @happygomarni, @carolineoncrack

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Go Marni Has a Facebook Page!

I started this blog in December of 2007. Yeesh! Now, 2 years and 9 months later, it's September of 2010, and the blog has a Facebook page! My, how it's grown. I feel like a parent who's marking her kid's height against a door frame using a red crayon. And this parent is in shock at the height increase. Fortunately for Happy Go Marni, the growth spurt isn't painful! Poor non-metaphorical kiddos.

I continue to have so much fun with this blog. It's time to take it to the next level!


More and more of my blogger friends are creating Facebook pages for their blogs and I'm finding it really helpful for keeping up with the latest posts of all these pals. I use Facebook as my aggregator. I have Google Reader too. But since I log into Facebook daily anyways, it is really easy and convenient to see my friends' blog posts come up in my newsfeed. And I can always visit their pages manually by doing a quick search.

So I am adding my own blog to the mix. Not only will it be an easy way for friends and family to keep up with the blog via Facebook, but Happy Go Marni readers I've never even met before will have a new way of engaging with the blog. As time goes by and I get into a groove where I know exactly how I want to use the Facebook page, I might include other commentary or links of interest. In that way, the page is not simply a place for me to share my most recent recipe or blog post, but a slightly deeper connection between readers and the author of Happy Go Marni. A maybe-not-quite-all-but-close-to-all-access pass to me. :)

If you're a Happy Go Marni reader, click Like on the Facebook page. I can't wait to get to know you better!

And a special shout-out to Hillel Smith, my talented graphic artist friend who created the profile graphic for the new Facebook page. He also redesigned this blog. He's really awesome. You should hire him. :-P

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Two Consecutive Wins Would Have Been Nice but the 2nd Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest Brought Back the Mother-Daughter Team So It's All Good

This Sunday was the 2nd Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. Last year, my mom and I entered together, as the only mother-daughter team, and took home 1st place in the Cream Pies category. It was quite a thrill and totally unexpected. This year, we didn't fare as well, at least not ribbon-wise. But here I am, standing before you with my head held high, chin up, to report that we are A-Okay. We survived our two-consecutive-wins-missed-opportunity and are here to talk about it!

Our pie entry

My mom, who lives in Northern California, flew down for the weekend, just like last year, so that we could enter together. What more could a daughter ask for? Seriously! People! As corny as it sounds, that makes me a winner right off the bat. We spent a few weeks going from pie concept to testing crusts to testing full-on pies right up until the weekend of the event. And as we were making the official entry pie together, we also decided to make an additional one since we knew we'd have to give away the entire official pie. Good thing we decided to do that. Friends and coworkers really appreciated getting to taste the pie!

Serving our pie to the public

Our pie was no easy project. What's funny is, Evan Kleiman, the wonderful restaurant owner, host of Good Food on KCRW, and master of ceremonies at the pie contest, even noted on her blog that complex, over-the-top pies are not necessary for you to win a ribbon. And then she reminded readers of last year's Best in Show, a classic apple pie. But here's the thing, Evan, and anyone who read that tip. That is asking me to be a different person. :-P

My mom crimps the edge of the pie crust

My mom holds the pie carefully as we drive to the drop off location

The fun for my mom and me was inventing a pie that captured, in one product, a variety of our favorite flavors, carried out with great texture, visual interest, and overall intrigue. And with that intro, allow me to present our pie: The Orange-Maple-Hazelnut Pie with Thick Chocolate Glaze and a Garnish of Candied Orange Peel and Caramelized Hazelnuts.

Handing the pie over to the authorities

Basically, and it's far from basic (hehe), we started with a flaky pie crust, brushed a sweetened orange marmalade on the bottom, then sprinkled our homemade candied orange peel on top of that, then poured in the orange-maple-hazelnut filling, topped it all off with a thick semi-sweet chocolate glaze, and decorated with caramelized hazelnuts and more candied orange peel.

Did we overdo it? Nah. Not if you ask our taste buds.

But that's not to say we were anticipating or prepared for such a labor-intensive project! I think we were in shock over what we had gotten ourselves into. I have to admit, we created something complicated enough that, at times, we were looking at each other going, "Wait a minute, why are we caramelizing hazelnuts? I've been stirring this saute pan of nuts, water, and sugar for ten minutes and my arm is going to break off! Owww!" Actually, it was a funny sight to behold. I finally finished the nuts, it must have been well after midnight, and then I literally collapsed on the floor. Maybe I was being a drama queen, but man, my biceps were bulging, pulsing with their own heartbeat, because of the effort I exerted stirring those nuts! Don't believe me? You try caramelizing a pie's worth of hazelnuts in the middle of the night, then give me a call.

Caramelized hazelnuts

Oh, and just the step of getting the shells off the nuts was time-consuming. And let's talk about the candied orange peel. Peeling the oranges and scraping the bitter white insides off the peel, then slicing into fine pieces was tedious. These are just a few of the steps people don't realize might go into making a pie. I'm here to tell you they occurred. And we did them with a smile on our face, and an occasional over-dramatization to get us through the night. But it was a girl's night, a gigglefest the whole way through; Mom and daughter were having a blast baking in the kitchen together.

Homemade candied orange peel!

There was an apron fashion show at the pie contest so my mom brought an apron down from the Bay Area that my sister Beth gave her, and I wore one that my friend Crystal sewed for me. It was neat to see all the different apron designs. Several of the participants came wearing their special apron and Evan Kleiman interviewed each of us on stage about our selection. That was a very fun, fresh new touch to the contest over last year.

Evan Kleiman interviewing my mom during the apron fashion show

The 2nd Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest was very different from last year, not just because of the apron fashion show. If I could give a little bit of constructive feedback about the contest for future years (and I hope there will be many, many more of these to come!), the following would be my tips. I say these not to take away from the event - because the bottom line is, as you can see from the grins on our faces, we had a lot of fun - but so that the 3rd annual contest can outdo the 2nd!:
  • Judging. Last year, the judging happened right in front of the public at a mall in the valley. This year, the event was hosted at the Taste of Beverly Hills food event and was free and open to the public. But the judging did not occur in front of us, and I very much miss that from last year. It was behind closed doors before they opened the gates to the public. Perhaps the single most exciting thing about the contest for me is watching a celebrity chef or famous food figure take a fork and dig into my pie, my amateur, made-at-home pie. For one, brief moment, I'd feel connected to an otherwise "unreachable" person via my pie. Most people aren't going to win the contest, so the best gift you can give them is the knowledge, satisfaction, and perhaps the photo they'll take, of a famous judge eating their pie. My photos from last year showing Chef Eric Greenspan, Chef Mark Peel, and LA Times Food Editor Russ Parsons enjoying my pie are like gold to me! But by removing that element this year, there was no "parting gift" for the many entrants who worked so hard to be there.
  • Slicing. Each entrant's pie had its place at one of the long tables, numbered and labeled, and with a large slice missing from it, clearly the one that went to the judges. I got to my pie at its table placement and saw damage to my pie from where the one judges' slice was missing. I wished then, that I could have been the one to slice and plate my pie for the judges (which I was allowed to do last year), since I knew the layers inside, the texture, and so I would know best what knife to use and how much pressure and so forth. Until the moment the forkful of pie goes into the mouth of a judge, it seems most fair that the entrants have complete control over their pie's presentation and integrity.
  • Schedule. Finally, the format for the afternoon was a bit anti-climactic. In the early part of the event, the semi-finalists were announced and all of the non-winners were sent to their pie station to prepare to serve their pies to the public. So very early in the event, you found out you didn't win, and then all that was left for you to do before you go home was share your pie. But that meant I missed some of the judging of the finalists and the excitement happening on stage.
Feedback notwithstanding, I had a wonderful afternoon at the 2nd Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. I ran into a ton of my food blogger friends. The KCRW staff was so sweet and cheerful. My mom flew in and baked with me. Family came to cheer us on. I exchanged business cards with a couple of people. And everyone who tasted our pie really enjoyed it. In fact, they'd come over and say,"We heard down there that we needed to come here to taste your pie!" So we felt very flattered.

A special shout out to Harriet, Sarah, Evan, and the rest of the crew at KCRW for organizing an event chock full of personality. That is no easy task! And by the looks of it, people were having a ball and rubbing their bellies.

Some of the Blog Coverage
ShopEatSleep: So much pie: KCRW's Good Food pie contest
LAist: Pie, Pie, Pie! KCRW's Annual Contest Served Up Fun by the Slice
Good Food Blog: Good Food Pie Contest Photos
Good Food Blog: Good Food Pie Contest Winner!
Diana Takes a Bite: Eating Pie and Making STRIDES
The Duo Dishes: KCRW's 2nd Annual Good Food Pie Contest
Caroline on Crack: Photo Gallery: KCRW's 2nd Annual Good Food Pie Contest

Pie-Packed Photo Album!

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