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Hangover Observations: XIV Opening Party

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They had the previews last week, the kitchen and FOH staff are getting a hang of things, and Michael Mina finally got his silver serving trays, so now it’s time for XIV to roll out the carpet for all its guests. But because it’s also Sam Nazarian, Brent Bolthouse and SBE, there has to be a big lavish party before Thursday's official opening. So last night, with the adjacent parking lot tented for extra spce, the soiree had all the markings of a typical Hollywood event: Long press line, an army of valets, couches, ottomans, and gorgeous flower arrangements everywhere, enough Veuve Cliquot to fill the Salton Sea, and the obligatory signage alerting us that just by stepping into the party we sign away all rights to our likeness should some sort of filming take place. And away we go?

1) Ratio of long-legged SBE-following beauties to Michael Mina foodies: 3:1. Plus one Jared Leto sighting.

2) Around the food tables, more men seemed to be excited about the food than the women. At each station there was a meat version and the mirrored veggie version, all very tasty. The pumpkin dumplings were an overwhelming favorite, the lamb was delicious, desserts were a treat (mint mousse frozen with liquid nitrogen served on a spoon---their version of a Junior Mint). Endless supply of food, servers walked around with Champagne to fill the glasses; it wasn't crazy crowded but crowded. All hallmarks of a good party.

3) No, dude, you can't buy our table for $100.

4) Mull this one over for awhile: James Beard Award winning, Michelin starred, Bon Appetit chef of the year Michael Mina and The Hills. Oh yes.

5) Ratio of Hills stars filming directly next to our table: 6:2, not including Justin Bobby who waited in the wings.

6) How many takes for the Sam Nazarian segment (he walks up to Heidi and Spencer to talk about Vegas): Three.

7) Allow us a Hills moment: Basically the cameras set up in a corner of the patio and waited for the “stars” to show up. Heidi and Spencer were first, and then Stephanie, Audrina and another friend. The group chatted in a tight circle while the cameras rolled. And not unlike our last experience at Jian, the whole thing was completely orchestrated. Nazarian went up and excitedly chatted, palled around with Spencer. Brent Bolthouse walked through the circle at one point. Throughout the whole thing, the producers gave lots of acting direction (“be more?surprised,” “stand here”), some conversations took several takes. Heidi turned and asked us for a cigarette (none of us do or were smoking) just so her boyfriend could yell, “You don’t need a cigarette.” When Spencer himself decided to direct---“We need another take! One more take!”---it was time to wrap things up.

8) Although completely mesmerized with the ridiculousness of MTV, the most exciting part of our night was when Jose Andres (opening restaurants at SBE's new SLS Hotel in November) sat down to chat with us about being an ambassador for Spain but why he'll never open a restaurant there; television; chefs, celebrity and celebrity chefs; opening restaurants in the U.S.; his team behind the scenes; paella; eating in Los Angeles; and Mario and Gwyneth. Should our Champagne buzz finally wear off, we might actually divulge what he said.
· Previewing XIV: Lots of plates, flavors, Mina [~ELA~]
· On Location: Drinks with the Hills at Jian [~ELA~]