You may have noticed by now that I’ve become obsessed with the desert and the mid-century architecture that abounds there. I’m not alone, Leonardo DiCaprio just bought a rather spectacular home in Palm Springs, and of course there are landmarks  like Bob Hope’s Lautner designed home (for sale for a mere 50 million), and Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate with his recording studio still in tact and the piano shaped

Julie Anne Rhodes courtesy of John Stoddart

Julie Anne Rhodes courtesy of John Stoddart

pool, but none can quite compete with the grand scale of the Annenberg estate known as Sunnylands in nearby Rancho Mirage. The palatial home was designed by architect Quincy A. Jones in the mid 1960’s, and it is set in 200 acres of spectacular desert-scaped gardens.

The gardens of Sunnylands

The gardens of Sunnylands

Sunnylands was quickly dubbed “Camp David West” as Walter and Lenore Annenberg regularly entertained Heads of State, Royalty, and Hollywood Royalty there.  In fact, President Obama just met King Abdullah of Jordan there in February while I was visiting my parents up the street (evidently, seeing Air Force One land in the small Palm Springs airport was quite a sight to behold).

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip being greeted by Walter and Lenore Annenberg

While I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Annenberg, I do know their daughter Wallis who is still a trustee of the foundation today. Close friend and hairdresser extraordinaire, Angelo DiBiase introduced us years ago, so I can personally attest to the warm and gracious nature she must have gotten from her parents legendary penchant for entertaining.

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Lunch in the game room with President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy Regan

When the foundation contacted me to enquire if I would like a copy of the cookbook A Taste of Sunnlyands – I jumped at the opportunity to read about the elegant soirees, and to try the very recipes Chef Michel Venaut created for all the 20th century luminaries who dined there.

Cold Lemon Souffle

Cold Lemon Souffle

Fifteen treasured family recipes such as Lenore Annenberg’s Salad, Sadie Annenberg’s (Walter’s mother) recipe for Spanish Chicken, and the Rack of Lamb with Mint Sauce in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s visit, all come vividly back to life with fascinating photos and insights into diplomatic entertaining – explaining how Lenore Annenberg, once chief of protocol for the White House, would collaborate flawlessly with Chef Venaut and the estate’s majordomo, Michael Comerford, so “these superb creations received their due.”

Rapsberry Bombe

Rapsberry Bombe

Of course, with my sweet tooth, I can’t wait to try the cold lemon soufflé or the raspberry bombe at my next dinner party! If you are lucky enough to visit Sunnylands, be sure to pick up a copy of a copy of A Taste of Sunnylands, or click here to order one online. Both desserts would work perfectly with the Personal Chef Approach for your own Party Accomplished!

Watch the video above for more about how the Personal Chef Approach works. What are your favorite recipes to serve when you entertain?

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