How to Throw the Ultimate Chinese New Year Celebration
The charming European-inspired Two Rodeo shopping district in the heart of Beverly Hills—home to Lanvin, Tiffany & Co., Lanvin, Jimmy Choo and others—underwent a major one-night transformation for an incredibly over-the-top Chinese New Year celebration hosted by Christine and Dr. Gabriel Chiu.
Realizing the majority of their mostly L.A.-based friends could scarcely conceive of driving downtown into Chinatown for dinner—let alone attempt it—the couple were inspired to build “Chiu Rodeo” atop the stone pathway of Via Rodeo.
The Chius created a venue within the shops of Rodeo Drive
Christine – a regular fixture in the front rows at Paris couture and New York Fashion Week – even orchestrated a Met Gala-worthy arrival moment, with guests ascending the red-lit entryway steps leading up to a Paifang – a traditional Chinese archway she had installed at the event entrance.
Laura Dunn, Beau Dunn, Lisa Arashiben, Christine Chiu, Jaime Xie, and Gretchen Rossi enter "Rodeo Chiu" through an elaborate entryway
Guests sipped on lychee martini and champagne
To entertain the guests, which included 130 of their nearest and dearest, the Chius flew in world-class entertainment. There was an Olympic rhythmic “ribbon” gymnast, an award-winning dance troop, Kungfu artists, fan dancers, and four lion dancers accompanied by a team of drummers and cymbalists – and that was just the dinner entertainment. “The Lantern Festival traditionally marks the last day of Chinese New Year celebrations,” explains Christine. “It’s the biggest festival, and it’s when everyone gets together and the firecrackers go off, and you have all the pomp and circumstance.”
An Olympic rhythmic "ribbon" gymnast
The dinner itself was like a spectacle within a spectacle – an 8-course seated dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois. Eight being a lucky number, each course naturally had some significance which was indicated on the menu. Two expansive tables were filled with towers of flowers, mountains of decorative blue and white Chinoiserie elements, and the ceiling virtually dripped with ornate red silk lanterns.
Guests dined under a sea of red lanterns
After dinner, the lion dancers led guests out of the tent and onto Café Chiu for dessert. “I’m from Taiwan, and the food scene is really popular, particularly the night markets,” says Christine. “There’s something really fun and spicy and authentic about an evening spent outside in the night markets.”
Guests were led out of the tent by dragon dancers
Along with an everlasting supply of traditional Chinese sweets, she further transformed the landscape with vignettes that included a Chinese calligrapher, a traditional Chinese fortune teller, a magician, an enormous tea station, and a boba cart. As a gift for two lucky guests who plucked the envelopes containing the numbers 8 and 88 from a tree, there was a luxury timepiece and a bracelet, each valued between $6,000 and $10,000.
Guests plucked envelopes from a tree
“This is the first year we’re celebrating Chinese New Year as a family,” she says. “We were so blessed last year to give birth to [our son] Gabriel. My husband is the 24thdirect descendant of the Song Dynasty, which makes ‘Baby G’ the 25th direct descendant – so it’s a very special occasion for us.” As a final gesture to everyone who joined in the festivities, the couple is working with Hope International to sponsor 130 orphaned children in China for an entire year.
Gabriel and Christine Chiu with their son Gabriel Jr.
So, what’s it cost to host the ultimate Chinese New Year blowout in Beverly Hills? Christine wouldn’t give an exact number, but offered a range. “It costs more than the average home in the U.S., but less than a very rare Bugatti.”
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors