Wedded in Wonderland
A farm-to-table reception is one thing—but one set in a former gay bar turned
antiques bazaar? Now, that’s entertainment
by MAYER RUS / photographs by PEDEN+MUNK
Kate Rivinus and Adam Blackman had been courting (if that’s still the term) for nearly two decades when they surprised friends and family with the announcement of their nuptials, set for 10/10/10. Rivinus, a graphic designer and cofounder of the online paper-goods company Egg2Cake, explained the catalyst for the decision: “It was the dirty martinis at the Brentwood Restaurant and Lounge,” she says dryly.
That spirit of giddy revelry also informed the choice of venue for the ceremony and reception. Eschewing traditional options, the couple settled on Blackman Cruz, a chic furniture showroom and cabinet of curiosities co-owned by Blackman and his longtime business partner, David Cruz. “It just made sense. The place was once a nightclub,” Rivinus explains.
And not just any nightclub. Probe, a gay bar popular for several decades, made a star turn as itself (or a version therof ) in American Gigolo. Its interiors can be discerned in the scene where Richard Gere descends into the caricatured gay underworld to find his former pimp. Back in 1980, it would be hard to imagine a chuppah in the middle of Probe’s dance floor.
When Blackman Cruz moved into the building in 2008, the partners made a conscious effort to preserve certain architectural details, such as the main-level bar, which now serves as the sales desk, and the Gothic arched apertures on the upper floor. They then stocked the place with a king’s ransom in idiosyncratic decorative treasures gathered from all corners of the globe, most of which went into exile for the nuptials. The pieces that remained—an elephant skull, a faceted 1970s disco megaball, massive totems from French Polynesia, to name a few—helped set the delightfully offbeat tone for the festivities.
“There’s a Mae West quote about how marriage is a great institution, but she’s not ready for an institution. Well, Kate and Adam are clearly ready for the institution—and they’re going in style,” said Ray Azoulay of Venice’s Obsolete gallery. Designer Jane Hallworth described the proceedings as “so unconventional but so decadently lovely and sweet—just like Adam and Kate.” Other tastemakers on the guest list: Joel and Margaret Chen of J.F. Chen, Kathleen White and Maurizio Almanza of Eccola, Peter and Shannon Loughrey of L.A. Modern Auctions, William Emmerson of Emmerson Troop, Jason Asch of Diamond Foam & Fabric and Gerard O’Brien of Reform Gallery.
“The farm-to-table concept was Kate’s vision,” Blackman insists. “She wanted dinner to unfold like one of the meals she cooks for family and friends—good food made with good ingredients, served family style. We wanted it to be an enchanted evening, not a formal one.”
The task of translating that concept into a tantalizing wedding feast fell to chef Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy, a catering company based in Long Beach. “Sustainable, local, seasonal—for us, that’s not just marketing hype,” says Buchanan. “Kate gave us a lot of freedom to create a menu based on what’s available from local farms at this time of year. I was really pleased when she asked for a list of the farms we work with.” (For the record, those farms include Weiser, Tamai, Nakamura and the Growing Experience.)
Among the highlights were heirloom-tomato appetizers served in shot glasses, fingerling potatoes with smoked salmon, roasted-beet salad with caramelized walnuts and Moscatel vinaigrette, chicken breasts with soft polenta, black cod with lime gremolata and platters of oven-roasted vegetables that would make even the most committed carnivore think twice. For dessert, rustic apple-spice tarts were served with ginger ice cream and pomegranate seeds.
The wedding cake was created by chocolatier Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections. “Kate asked for something that celebrated the harvest theme,” Gordon says, “so we made a vanilla-bean cake layered with Italian sugarplums, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and fruit jams. She wanted the buttercream frosting to look imperfect, in keeping with the informal, organic feeling of the meal.”
Garnished with a cornucopia of grapes, figs and pomegranates, the cake presentation felt very much like a Dutch still life. In keeping with the resplendent mood of the evening, it struck the perfect notes of abundance, beauty and life.