Farhang Foundation Offers Beverly Hills A Taste of Persia Photography: Vafa Khatami
The carpet had been rolled out the day before as with any high-profile event. Only this carpet was not red. It was Persian and magnificent.
The fruit display had been arranged, similar to what one would find in a picturesque Persian bazaar, while the smell of fresh baked bread from the nearby tanoor, a quaint charcoal oven, filled the air. Musicians fiddled with their exotic instruments - tar, daf, setar, and santoor - as the ensemble of dancers - costumed like the iconic women in Persian miniatures - took to their positions in anticipation of the soon-to-arrive guests.
This was not a scene from One Thousand and One Nights. It was not a snippet from one of Scheherazade's tales. It was the final touches leading to the one-night-only event called Taste of Persia by Farhang Foundation, which took place Thursday, September 2, in Beverly Hills as part of the highly anticipated 9.02.10 Day celebration. The evening, dedicated to honoring the world-class city of Beverly Hills, served as the opening night of Taste of Beverly Hills food festival, and featured the culinary delights of such names as Lawry's, Crustacean, The Peninsula Hotel, and world-renowned chefs, Wolfgang Puck and the Drago Brothers. There were also celebrity appearances by Larry King, the Kardashian-Jenner family, the cast of 90210 television show, as well as musical performances by Grammy nominee, Natasha Bedingfield. But amid the glamour and star power, Taste of Persia by Farhang Foundation truly stood out peerless. This was due to the simple fact that Farhang Foundation is not a restaurant, rather it is a non-religious, non-political, and not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and promoting Iranian art, culture, and heritage for the benefit of the community at large. As such, Taste of Persia by Farhang Foundation was not just an exploration of Persian cuisine. It was an exploration into Persian culture by way of its cuisine. And what better place or time to celebrate Iranian culture than at an event honoring Beverly Hills, a city home to a large Iranian-American population. Volunteers, donning turquoise wraps by designer to the stars, Ina Soltani, offered visitors uniquely designed Persian food, while explaining the ingredients in such dishes as Aash e Anar (pomegranate soup), Kookoo Loghmeh (fresh herbs frittata), Beryooni (a specialty from Isfahan), and many others, that were a result of the culinary and artistic vision of Ardie Tavangarian who chairs the Food Festival committee at Farhang.
Visitors dined while enjoying live, traditional Persian music courtesy of the AVA Ensemble, along with the graceful movements of Rosa Rojas and her fellow dancers, all in a pavilion decorated with scenic images of Iran and carpeted with a fabulously large Persian rug. Food was not all that was being consumed. Featured wines included Darioush, Arya, and Mithra, all three owned and operated by Iranian-Americans. And thanks to Mashti Malone's, visitors were able to finish their meals with bite-sized servings of Persian ice cream. But because no Persian meal is ever truly complete without a hot cup of tea, a traditional Persian tea station along with platters of Persian sweets and treats were on hand outside of the pavilion for guests to enjoy on their way out. The pavilion never saw a dull moment throughout the evening and was consistently filled with the happy chatter of visitors, who included Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad, members of the Kardashian-Jenner family, KCRW radio show host Evan Kleiman, Wolfgang Puck, Celestino Drago and Giacomino Drago.
Media buzz was also generated as camera crews from various local TV and print media, such as NBC, CBS and many others, stopped by to shoot footage or take snapshots of Taste of Persia by Farhang Foundation. Other restaurateurs at the event also commented on the fine cuisine and presentation that the pavilion offered. The night was a splendid achievement for Farhang Foundation as one of its founding principles was successfully executed: to celebrate Iranian culture and introduce it to the community at large. Taste of Persia by Farhang Foundationwas made possible by the efforts of the Farhang Foundation Food Festival Committee (Ardie Tavangarianchair / creative & culinary director;Farhad Mohit, co-chair;Bita Milanian, program director and Dana Farahani, media relations), the support of many young volunteers representing Farhang's Youth Council, as well as the generosity of several local businesses including: Arya Group, Inc. City National Bank David Orgell Damoka LA Ketab Corp. CBM Special Events KVMart Co. Golden Color Printing Berbere World Imports H.R.A. Training Decorator's Place Corp. Golden Pak Infusion