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Cinema Updated: 07 Nov 2018

The stars - and the food - shine in L.A. during Oscars weekend

Some of the brightest stars from the worlds of entertainment, sports and more came together last night to raise funds for the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) at the nonprofit’s annual Oscars watch party and dinner in West Hollywood.

Now in its 26th year, the Academy Awards Viewing Party was hosted by Sir Elton John and David Furnish. As one of the co-sponsors, BBVA Compass was honored to bring its brand ambassadors, the Roca Brothers of the Michelin three-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, to design and prepare dinner for the event’s more than 900 guests, all in support of EJAF’s important fundraising initiatives addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Sir Elton John y David Furnish con Joan Roca y el equipo directivo de BBVA Compass en la cena benéfica de la EJAF

Days before the commencement of activities, BBVA Compass and Joan Roca, head chef and one of the trio of brothers that own one of the best restaurants in the world, El Celler de Can Roca, gave guests, clients, various media and interested viewers a preview of the unique dinner guests could expect during two different events.

EJAF Media Preview Day with Illusionist David Jarre, Host David Furnish, BBVA Compass Foundation President Reymundo Ocañas and Actor Matthew Morrison

EJAF Media Breakfast and Preview Day

Both Spanish and English media outlets from the U.S. and Canada came together Thursday morning to speak to the people behind Sunday’s viewing party, including Roca and BBVA Compass Foundation President Reymundo Ocañas. Also among those on hand were Viewing Party Host David Furnish, Illusionist David Jarre and Actor Matthew Morrison.

Roca gave a preview of the specially-created menu for the Viewing Party to media, while Ocañas detailed the Foundation and the bank’s support of EJAF, detailing how the EJAF’s grant priorities represent an excellent match with the bank’s own emphasis on building stronger communities, particularly in its own Southern backyard.

“We have been sponsoring this event for three years and it is an honor to bring El Celler and have Joan here,” said Ocañas in an interview with Agencia EFE. “Being able to support the Elton John Aids Foundation to fight AIDS around the world and also present the work of El Celler in the middle of Hollywood is very important to us.”

On Friday, Roca teamed up with event co-chair and BBVA Compass Brand Ambassador Sandra Lee to conduct a live demonstration and tasting on Los Angeles’ KTLA.

EJAF Cocktail Reception

Friday, guests were invited to a cocktail reception in the Hollywood Hills, hosted by BBVA Compass L.A. City President Stephen Flynn, Viewing Party Host David Furnish and Co-hosts Sandra Lee and Judith Light. The event, which honored Roca’s contribution to the Viewing Party, featured appetizers created by the renowned chef.

In remarks to guests, Flynn thanked the evening’s contributors and said, “Supporting the Elton John AIDS Foundation comes naturally to BBVA Compass, as the bank’s vision and mission is to create opportunities for those who are in the most need, and supporting the worldwide fight against HIV could not be a better fit.”

Silent auction items were donated in support of EJAF’s fundraising efforts, and included artwork by noted artists Mr. Brainwash and Hector Rafael, while the event itself was designed and executed by Houston’s BeDESIGN and Niche Beverly.

Academy Awards Viewing Party Menu

El Celler de Can Roca Head Chef Joan Roca created a specially-designed menu that featured local ingredients with traditional Spanish touches. The evening began with truffle brioche and poularde cannelloni with truffle béchamel sauce, followed by vegetable consommé with scallops. For the main courses, guests dined on sea bream with California chardonnay wine sauce and lemon, truffle and hazelnut gnocchi, as well as filet mignon à la grenache wine and puff pastry topped with olive oil pureed potatoes and vegetables. Arugula salad with comté and manchego cheeses, pickled onions and curry-coated walnuts topped the savory portion of the evening, while Pastry Chef Jordi Roca’s acclaimed orange chromatism dessert wrapped it up.

The sumptuous meal was met with rave reviews, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Roca team to transform the menu into a truly unique dining experience, while the Academy Awards Viewing Party raised $5.9 million for the global effort to end AIDS.

BBVA Compass’ history with the EJAF goes back three years where in 2016, the bank and the BBVA Compass Foundation donated $300,000 to EJAF in its largest show of support for an organization targeting HIV. After the weekend’s activities, the bank’s support will total $1 million over three years.