Bravo, and Encore!

Bravo, and Encore!

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Here in Michigan, and especially in metro Detroit, the sky is falling. This is the worst recession that the majority of us will have ever lived through, and could potentially be the worst recession in Michigan’s history. Things are bleak; there’s no denying it.

But if you were at last week’s 10th Annual BravoBravo! fundraiser, you’d never know it.

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The BravoBravo! Gala Fundraiser, the largest fundraising event for the Detroit Opera House, is the premier social event of the year, drawing in crowds of thousands of metro Detroit’s bright and beautiful, the socialites and the power players, the art lovers and scene-stealers. Whether there out of a sincere desire to support the arts or just there to see and be seen, all attendees converge under the roof of the glorious Opera House to sample food from over 40 over the area’s finest restaurants and catering companies and listen to music from top local talents.

And this year’s event, despite the loss of major sponsorship from Lexus and some significant changes to ticket pricing and availability, was one of the finest.

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BravoBravo! is organized by Encore, the Michigan Opera Theatre’s young professionals organization. Filling the gaps of tremendous losses due to state and corporate sponsorship budget cuts, this group of some 30 young adults was charged with putting together one of the most important fundraisers to date. To which all I can say is, “Bravo!”

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“This year’s event was a huge success,” said Nicole Brown, a member of Encore and one of the biggest supporters of Detroit’s young professional growth and advancement movement. “We sold out for a second straight year in a row while raising much-needed funds for the continued restoration and operation of the Michigan Opera Theatre and Detroit Opera House. What makes this one of the most successful young professional fundraising events of the year is that it brings together the best of Detroit. From the best in entertainment to food you can experience it all at BravoBravo! and this year was no different.”

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And how. This year found Paxahau (who manage Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival) DJs spinning in the outside tent, Funk Night (voted the best party in the America by Paper Magazine) DJs spinning upstairs, the swingin’ sounds of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in the main theatre, and of course lots of jazz to complement the vintage jazz theme of this evening.

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I must also say “Bravo!” to the decision to limit ticket sales from the upwards of 2,300 from last year; after issues with overcrowding and limited traffic flow, organizers decided to instead reduce the number of tickets sold by several hundred and raise individual ticket prices to offset the limited ticket sales. The result was a much less crowded event in which everyone was able to move freely throughout the main halls and theatre without waiting in long lines or being jostled around. The wait at all the food and drink tables was short and there was space enough for people to enjoy their food once they got it. Overall, this made for a much more enjoyable experience, and moving forward I hope that this decision sticks.

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And the food—oh my. No corners were cut here: 24 Grille (whose pan-seared foie gras on a bed of green goddess salad with truffled cotton candy was the crown culinary jewel of the evening), Opus One, Roast, Saltwater, Crave, Taste Pizzabar, Mon Jin Lau, Chen Chow Brasserie, Wolfgang Puck Grille, Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine, Bourbon Steak, Angelina Italian Bistro…plus some 30 or so more of the area’s best restaurants offering mouth-watering samples of tuna tartare, cornbread stir-fry, lobster bisque, sweet crepes, pulled pork and suckling pig, and a candy-colored rainbow of confectionary delights. Modeled like a large-scale industry wine tasting only with elegant food instead and best likened to the finest strolling buffet you will ever see in your life, BravoBravo! is a veritable foodie paradise, a destination for epicureans to nibble and nosh on a wide array of different foods from an even wider array of restaurants. Whether exploring new tastes (and you simply must) or falling back on old favorites (I couldn’t really pass up Taste, now could I?), this is as much the premier social event of the year as it is the premier culinary showcase of the year.

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The outdoor patio area was also newly enhanced with an extended bar and added restaurant presence, and once again became the place where everyone seemed to gravitate towards the end of the night. Grooving to the beats of DJs Chuck Flask and Jenny LaFemme, the night ended with a certain kind of euphoric rush—good food, good music, and good company all making this one of the best nights of the year. No one wanted it to end, but then again…there’s always next year.

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In the true spirit of Detroit DIY, keeping hope alive in even the most difficult times, the team behind BravoBravo! once again proves that no obstacle is too great to overcome. Even with a shoestring budget and a huge loss of sponsorship, they still put together another amazing evening. Thanks again Encore, for this truly spectacular event; to the rest of you, I’ll see you at the 11th anniversary!

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All photos by Sean Gabriel Photography.