Forget Kodak – the Real Oscar Party was in Gilroy

Angela Russo and Cindy Dominguez

Oscar flew over the coop at the Kodak Theatre and found the more
exciting party in Eagle Ridge in Gilroy on Sunday afternoon. The
orange cones were out, the valet pleasant and efficient, and the
crowds, fans and paparazzi were everywhere!
Oscar flew over the coop at the Kodak Theatre and found the more exciting party in Eagle Ridge in Gilroy on Sunday afternoon. The orange cones were out, the valet pleasant and efficient, and the crowds, fans and paparazzi were everywhere!

Richard and Ann Fiorio bought their way into the party along with 15 of their closest friends. No, the Fiorios are not shameless social climbers; they’re just generous enough to purchase the entire party at last year’s Blue and Gold auction at Saint Mary’s School fund-raiser.

On the guest list were Dr. Richard and Marianne Gallagher, Luis and Lilia Vaca, John and Tiffany Doyle, Tim and Cindy Dominguez, Mike and Patty Kahn, Nancy Robinson, Christina and Robert Gilroy, Danny and Angela Russo, and Michael and Erica Dowd.

The party was hosted by Mark and Mary Sanchez with the help of Julie and Robert Melendres. The Sanchezes are famous for their previous auction items of poker parties; Super Bowl parties and now the famous Oscar party.

“I love throwing a good party,” Mark explained. Indeed – he recruits family, friends and neighbors as part of the party program. Mark’s son, Albert, worked the red carpet checking guests in as they arrived. He even dressed in black with an earpiece in one ear security-style, while good neighbor Darren Longworth acted as the valet and crowd control.

Dozens of neighborhood children lined the roped-off red carpet area asking for autographs and snapping pictures with disposable cameras. They held signs saying, “blow me a kiss” and “flex for me Danny” (perhaps the kids were bribed with chocolate-chip cookies).

After checking in with security, the guests stopped for their press shot, then their interview with two over-the-top characters played by Mary and Julie. When asked what designer Marianne Gallagher was wearing, she scrambled and blurted out, “It’s vintage!” Quick thinking, Marianne.

Wearing a wonderfully retro white evening jacket and serving champagne was Harvard man Robert Melendres. The guests were then invited to dine on appetizers on the balcony and watch the rest of the guests arrive.

A peek into the kitchen revealed one of the secrets to Mark’s success: a brother who loves to cook. Adam Sanchez, winner of the 2001 Garlic Festival cookoff, shared the kitchen with co-chef Ann Zyburra. Sanchez and Zyburra both work at Al Sanchez Volkswagen/Mazda as owner and business manager, respectively. Their constant comparisons at work of their culinary masterpieces spurred a friendly feud of who was the better chef. They both humbly admitted the other to be the victor. I just nodded my head and kept sampling.

Zyburra called out the menu for the evening as I scrambled to write it down. The following is a partial list: crab cakes with chili pepper aioli, mushrooms with spinach, potatoes with crème fraiche and caviar, tartlets with brie, vegetarian sushi with green goddess dressing, marinated spring lamb chops roasted on the barbecue (I positioned myself at the barbecue to taste test before they were gobbled up inside), and edible gold Oscars on gourmet brownies for dessert. All those in favor of a Sanchez/Zyburra eating establishment in Gilroy say aye! Oh, sorry – your mouths are full. We’ll take that as a, “Go for it Adam and Ann.”

If you missed your chance to bid on this fun and creative party last year, Saint Mary’s auction is coming again on April 8. The Sanchez family plans to offer the item again this year, but right now they are recuperating in Maui. Aloha, Oscar.

Ciao for now.

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