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Celebrating 90 Years of San Francisco Opera

September 13, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

San Francisco’s Fall Season began with a bang on Friday, September 7th as the Opera celebrated its 90th Anniversary in resplendent style. Guests came from near and far dressed in their finest, for a jubilee that was sure to impress.

The festivities commenced outside the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco’s Civic Center as Opera supporters were invited into a tented pavilion fit for a Duke.  Skillfully styled by event designer, Robert Fountain, the space was sumptuously draped in rich violet and adorned with hanging mirrors, bird cages and peacocks.  Guests were greeted with champagne and mouthwatering hors d’oeuvres such as Pancetta Wrapped Polenta Cakes with Chipotle Aioli, Fontina Arancini, and Carciofi Croccanti with Tarragon Parmesan Lemon Aioli.

In the dining pavilion, guests were enthralled by lavish centerpiece arrangements: luxurious white peacocks nestled among a bed of cascading pink orchids, all perched atop an opulent table setting of silver rimmed glassware, ornate platinum chargers, and plush plum rosette linens. Guests supped on an Italian-inspired four-course meal of Lasagna Verde, Roasted Beet Carpaccio and Seared Veal Loin with Morel Mushrooms and Potato Gnocchi, followed by a Deconstructed Tiramisu.

After dinner, guests were ushered to the War Memorial Opera House where they were treated to Giuseppe Verdi’s brilliant and dramatic Rigoletto, starring Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak, and conducted by Music Director, Nicola Luisotti.

The fête continued into the late hours of the night with a post-party where attendees danced the night away and nibbled on sweet treats of Berry Martinis and Gelato Bites.

While McCalls is thrilled to be part of such a fun-filled event, we are also proud to partake in such a great cause: all funds raised for the Opera go towards music programs that reach over 60,000 children in Bay Area schools. And that is always something great to sing about.

To read more about this spectacular evening, please visit SFGate at:

To learn more about the San Francisco Opera and its programs, please visit the Opera website at:

The Art of Floral Design: A Look into McCalls’ Floral Department

August 14, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

A branch of art in itself, floral design is a very integral part of the overall look and atmosphere of any event. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that our innovative floral designer, Miguel Torres, comes from an artistic calling and background himself: “It was a natural and complimentary extension to my work as a nature based, site specific sculptor. I did not foresee having a career in floral and event design, but once I started working with flowers and designing events, I truly enjoyed it and found the creative challenge inspiring.” A designer who doesn’t conform to trends, Miguel makes original designs from scratch and particularly enjoys creating large scale, sculptural pieces. Out of his 15 years of floral industry experience, we feel fortunate that 10 of them have been with us.

Miguel and his team of 27 colleagues are based out of our very own warehouse in South San Francisco. Our hard working floral team does everything from performing the daily tasks of managing a floral studio, to assisting in bringing floral visions to life onsite at event venues. Over the years Miguel has witnessed his department evolve into a dynamic floral tour de force: “The floral department has always been a key design component to McCalls. Over the years our work has gotten more imaginative, innovative, creative and eclectic. We are able to design and execute a myriad of design styles and themes to suit any aesthetic or venue.”

One of the largest – and most fun – floral jobs that the McCalls floral team efficiently and successfully accomplished was for a week-long series of cocktail and dinner receptions held in a tent on Treasure Island. Over the course of that week, the floral department processed and used approximately 250,000 stems of Ecuadorian roses. According to Miguel, “It was quite a thorny affair.”

The impending autumn is Miguel’s favorite season for flowers and foliage. As weddings abound this September and October, and fall holidays are just around the corner, you can look forward to harvest colors in fall fruits, like orange persimmons and burgundy pomegranates. Gourds and pumpkins, or even fall branches, can further add depth to any floral design or stand alone as their own beautiful centerpieces. Also widely available is a profusion of autumn flowers, including hydrangeas, dahlias, and rose hips. As Miguel succinctly states, “It’s a lovely, festive time to enjoy the abundance of all the flora and fauna.”

To see more beautiful works and inspiration, please check out the Floral Galleries on our website:

Final Week! Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibit at the de Young

August 10, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

Food and Fashion at San Francisco’s de Young Museum

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier

Culture and food go hand in hand.  If you are looking for an afternoon of both delectable fare and intriguing art, may we suggest a enjoying a finely tailored bite to eat at the de Young Museum Café followed by a viewing of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit in its final North American stop at the de Young.

Head over to the de Young Café for lunch where our chef, Jason Smith, stylizes a menu around the seasons as well as the Museum’s current special exhibits.  While he is always focused on using fresh and local ingredients, Jason is also currently taking advantage of the bounties that summer has to offer, such as stone fruits, summer squash and zucchini.  “Tomatoes are here but the best is still to come: spring onions, cucumbers, and all sorts of potatoes, bok choy, gypsy peppers, and green-frying tomatoes. The lettuces are really special as well right now.”

While you are at the café, be sure to try the chef favorite, poulet rôti “tout simplement,” a roasted half chicken served with blue lake beans, spring onion, fingerling potatoes and bacon lardoons. A plethora of libations, grab and go snacks, and delicious desserts are also available to round out your culinary excursion to the de Young Café. To top off your meal, we recommend taking a tasty treat out on to the terrace to view the Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden.

After eating and strolling around the museum grounds, venture over to the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit for an exciting display of electrifying French fashion. When viewing his stylistic masterpieces – whether it’s his wildly fun, thigh-high, feathered shoes, his Native American-inspired wedding ensemble, or his impeccably constructed crocodile embossed corset made for Hermes– the question inevitably comes to mind, “How do you do that?” Or, in the spirit of Gaultier’s one hit dance music single, “Au tou dou zat?”From his mermaid designs to his punk collection, Gaultier’s endless creativity and incredible attention to detail is unquestionable.

Underneath that sheath of striking design and self-taught skill is a socially stitched discourse about gender roles and sexuality. Illustrating this discourse are a wide range of pieces, including his infamous cone bra from Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour as well as his prolific creations of men’s skirts. Animated mannequins bring Gaultier’s designs to life.  The exhibit features 140 designs with supporting video segments, design sketches, photographs, and other supplemental materials spanning over three decades of French fashion’s proclaimed enfant terrible.

The Gaultier exhibit ends Sunday, August 19th so make sure to catch it before it leaves the runway for good!

For more information about the Gaultier exhibit ending August 19, please visit:

For more information about the de Young Café, please visit:

Summer Recipe from McCalls

August 8, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

Roast White Peaches Topped with Chèvre & Hazelnut Brittle

Makes 6 servings

  • 3 large white peaches – (halved and pitted)
  • 3 oz. Sonoma chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 2 Tbsp lavender honey
  • 1 tsp lavender buds
  • 1 Tbsp grape seed oil
  • Hazelnut brittle (see below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve peaches top to bottom and remove pit. Rub with grape seed oil and lavender honey. Place peaches skin side up on a sheet pan coated with parchment paper and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and gently skin peaches. Place peaches back on the sheet pan with the pit indentation facing up. Spoon ½ oz. chèvre into each peach half and return to oven until cheese softens. Place on serving platter and top with lavender honey, buds and hazelnut brittle.

Hazelnut Brittle

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  •  ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups roasted unsalted hazelnuts sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 3 drops vanilla extract

In a heavy bottom sauce pan, add sugar, water and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. When mixture comes to a boil, add butter. Cool to 260 degrees on a candy thermometer without stirring. Then add hazelnuts and bring up to 300 degrees. Add salt, baking soda and vanilla. Pour onto sheet pan, greased or lined with silpat baking mat and let cool. When cool and hard, break into pieces.

The Vapor Bar: A Mixology Inspired Marriage of Muzzle and Mouth

June 28, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

Meet our Bar Manager, Roberto Franco, who has a passion for creating specialty drinks to compliment any party’s theme. Roberto keeps his ear to the ground listening for the latest trends in the beverage world to keep our bar program innovative. Hot right now is a detail that sets any event apart from others: the vapor bar. The marriage of the muzzle and the mouth is nothing new to food lovers, and Roberto has taken this science behind the bar, creating an olfactory experience with every sip.

“The vapor bar is perfect for corporations and international companies looking for something fun, different and unique. It’s an original detail that can be added even to large-scale events. It’s very appealing and a great way to enhance the client’s bar experience.”

Using a vaporizer, our team of specially trained mixologists ignites the ingredients into pure aromatic vapor. The vapor is then captured under a glass bell jar where it is infused into alcohol.

“We infuse everything from ginger, mint and pomegranate green tea to cinnamon, Uncle Larry’s organic tangerine peels (homemade in our kitchen) and organic orange zest.”

The final result is an innovative cocktail, dramatic in look and unparalleled in taste. While it may seem time consuming, making a drink with a vaporizer takes about the same time as a regular cocktail. It is an interactive sensory and social experience that is a great way to engage guests.

According to Roberto, the good ole Manhattan is a popular vaporized drink often on the menu.

“We make ours with bourbon, sweet vermouth then infuse the alcohol with vaporized tangerine peels, organic orange extract and cinnamon flavor then garnished with a peach nectar ice cube.”

Sounds delicious – we’ll cheers to that!

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