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Can Competitors Collaborate and Create Community?

What do you call an event that takes place amid hummingbirds? An event that is produced by a team of friendly competitors yet is all about collaboration and community? You call it a unicorn. And, of course, these creative planners made sure there was a unicorn in attendance to carry their point home (a very patient white equine who loved the attention his “horn” brought him for the evening).

A sweet unicorn to signify community 

This outpouring of warmth took place on an unseasonably overcast evening at Hummingbird Nest Ranch. Oddly the clouds in the sky only added to the theme that night: 50 Shades of White. The occasion was a chance to show off the exclusivity of the venue and newly repurposed building on the sprawling luxury property into casitas perfect for wedding parties, and attendees of corporate summits to use as overnight accommodations.

To get the word out, the owners enlisted two top event professionals in the area: the event planning firm, Bella Vita and event and floral designer, XO Bloom. Together they assembled a team of the area’s top creative partners. Each invited their top wedding and event influencers to the event as a way to promote not only the property but cross-promote the vendors who had contributed their best work to the evening.

In keeping with the community-not-competition theme, the ranch had invited the Four Seasons, a nearby property, to execute the catering for the evening. The Four Seasons is a feather in the cap of the area which encompasses Westlake Village and other high-end destinations. The property is often a place where wedding guests and parties stay so it was a smart move to showcase the food of Executive Chef Jose Fernandez.

Executive Chef Jose Fernandez

A Michelin-trained chef from Spain, Fernandez infused the menu with creativity, developing all-white versions of sushi and risotto in keeping with the theme of the evening. Many of his dishes were actually the beta versions of menu items that would later make an appearance at the Four Seasons’ new restaurant, Coin and Candor.

The meal was served under huge orchid chandeliers designed and executed by Sarah Zahran of Westlake Village floral designer, XO Bloom. The dishes were light and airy with many nitrous elements, yet heavy on culinary import and precision. Perhaps planner Deborah James gave the menu the most highly technical term of the night: “scrumptious.”


Hummingbird Nest Ranch
50 Shades of White
Four Seasons Catering
Executive Chef Juan Hernandez

Potato chip, crème fraiche, chives

Cauliflower bisque, fennel, white truffle

“Fried chicken,” buffalo sauce, brioche

Seabass crudo, jicama, chives

Blossoms of Spring | Edible spring flowers, local greens and vegetables, San Joaquin gold, meyer-olive oil vinaigrette


Forage Risotto | English peas, chanterelles, confit tomato, pea tendrils, parmesan cheese, black truffles

Mint Cloud Intermezzo

The Birth of Venus | California scallops, white asparagus, young potatoes, rhubarb verjus, cherry blossom air


Warm white cotton cheesecake, hot vanilla cream, macerated strawberries


White chocolate dipped strawberries
Rum, bourbon, & tequila candy chocolate truffles
Served with white liquid nitrogen, strawberry smoke

The beauty of Hummingbird Nest Ranch was on display at the event

Rather than the customary photo booth, the team took it one step further, creating a series of “Vanity Fair” style shoots that would highlight the collaboration aspect of the event.

Creative Partners

Producer: @bellavitaevents | Venue: @hummingbirdnestranchevents | Caterer: @fswestlake | Photo/Video: @boonestudios | Photo/Video: @johnandjoseph | DJ: @kriegerstyle | Violinist: @whoisdsharp | Rentals: @lunarentalsandspecialevents, @tacer_losangeles, @arentalconnection | Lighting: @Images_Lighting @lonnie_images | Floral and design: #xobloom | Candles: @voguecandles | Balloons: @partyshopavenue | Stationery: @fladedahs | Favors: @belladonnaspecialevents | Gown: @abridebysamantha | Glam: @beauty_by_hidi | Cake: @thebutterend

Liese Gardner

Owner, Liese Gardner Communications, Los Angeles, CA

Liese Gardner is a marketing expert working with top brands and individuals in the special events industry since 1984.