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Originally published March 4, 2013 at 7:45 PM | Page modified March 4, 2013 at 10:52 PM

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A Depp day at Salish, party on at Aegis

Johnny Depp has nonalcoholic beer and beet salad at Salish Lodge; a fundraiser for the victims of sex trafficking; and tossing fish in the Big Apple.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Yes, that was Johnny Depp at Salish Lodge & Spa last week, since you asked.

And since culture demands that we know what famous people ordered, chewed and swallowed — as if we, too, could be a swell if only we knew how to read a menu — here’s what went down in the dining room.

Our Johnny entered with four men and asked to be seated by the fireplace. He ordered a nonalcoholic beer, then the beet salad to start, the beef tenderloin as his entree, and ended the meal with the hazelnut mousse.

That’s all very nice, but the question remains: What was he doing up here?

There was a rumor he showed up in Duvall, of all places; another that he had a cameo in “Lucky Them,” which is filming in Seattle.

Maybe he was in the Northwest visiting new Seattleite Jason Baldwin, one of the West Memphis Three, for whom Depp fought and fundraised until they were released in 2011.

Maybe Depp wanted to get the hayride out of Hollywood during Oscars weekend, sparing himself Anne Hathaway’s faux ad-lib acceptance speech and Kristen Stewartscowling at all her good fortune.

Or maybe he was scouting locations for something he and Tim Burtoncould create in a new shade of weird: A “Twin Peaks” movie?

It’s a thought.

Your musings welcome.

A house, a home

I’d never been to a dinner at a retirement home, but there I was, at Aegis Living in Bellevue last week, sipping what I thought was just Champagne, but had actually been spiked with limoncello and bitters. Well, hello!

Any minute, I thought, one of the residents was going to appear at the top of the staircase in a bathrobe and yell at us to keep it down.

Never happened. Instead, some of the residents came down and joined the dinner, which was a fundraiser for The Lotus House Project.

Aegis founder Dwayne Clark and his daughter, Ashley Rea, hope to raise $300,000 to build a group home in Cambodia for victims of sex trafficking (www.aegisliving.com/lotus-house).

It’s hardly the stuff of lighthearted dinner conversation, but a noble effort, and the reason for the night.

“If we just knew what was going on to some 5-year-old girl in Cambodia,” Clark said, “we couldn’t go to sleep at night.”

Or eat.

Nevertheless, the menu — prepared and donated by Chef Holly Smith— was something you just couldn’t let sit there. It included Fermin Iberico pork cheeks, which are made from pigs that eat nothing but acorns for three months. Wow.

Smith also made vanilla panna cotta from her signature recipe at her Cafe Juanita, with the help of her former sous chef, Justin Sledge, who now works at Aegis.

Why would he leave Smith and Juanita? His mother lives at Aegis. (And never complained about the noise.)

Dancing for dollars

Teach them to dance, and the donations will come.

The Plymouth Housing Group has figured that out, and for the past few years has hosted “Seattle Dances!” in which a stable of high-profile Seattleites practice for months, and then perform before a room of slightly soused donors. It worked.

Saturday’s event at Fremont Studios was quite the scene, with valet parking and Duell Fisher’s Team Photogenic at the front door, making anyone who wanted to feel like a Kardashian.

Simon Woods, the executive director of the Seattle Symphony, had been recruited as one of the judges. He knew to wear a tuxedo — but that was where his expertise ended.

“I haven’t a clue,” he said when I asked how one judges a dance contest. “I have no idea. I guess I’ll use my artistic judgment.”

Dancer Ernie Pino came out from backstage to greet supporters — and his partner, Richard Gray, who raced over in between his matinee and evening performances in “The Music Man” at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Pino, who owns Producciones Pino, a Spanish-language media consulting and advertising agency, popped a calf muscle earlier in the day, but was determined to perform the tango with Katie Lake — from a chair. (He would later receive The Spirit Award).

Charlene Strong, the co-founder of LFB Advocacy Group, glued on some eyelashes, donned a Bride of Frankenstein wig, white-satin pants and vest to do the Hustle with Ricki Mason.

In the end, John Teutsch won the Cyber Award, having raised $42,000 online; Connie Blumenthal won the People’s Choice Award, with $150,000 raised; and Patti Savoy won the Judges’ Award.

They were all helped along by the ever-dapper Hallie Kupermanand her crew at the Century Ballroom, which has raised about half of a $92,000 “dance tax” bill that came because it didn’t collect sales tax on its cover charge.

The Ballroom has gotten donations from as far as Baltimore, and is having a “Thank You” dance party on March 15.

What had Kuperman learned from it all?

“I never want to be a politician.”

What Plymouth learned from Saturday’s event? Do it again: The event raised $480,000.

Not another fish story

Every monger at Pike Place Fish remembers the ladies and the $200 hunk of halibut.

They had stopped by the stand and were so charmed by the fish-throwing men in orange overalls that they bought 18 pounds of halibut without a clue about how to cook it.

It was one of the countless encounters that led to this week’s release of “In the Kitchen with the Pike Place Fish Guys,” a book of 100 recipes and tips from the Market’s most famous mongers.

Matt’s in the Market hosted a launch party the other night, when friends and neighbors like Chef Daisley Gordonof Café Campagne and Marché, and Chef Cormac Mahoney of the Madison Park Conservatory sampled fish sliders and ahi poke.

Pike Place Fish owner John Yokoyamatold me to look up his barbecue salmon recipe. Thirteen-year fish monger Anders Millertold me about the time Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Roseslipped and hit his head after tossing a fish. The “Axl” sticker on the cash register still marks the spot.

Miller will travel to New York with his high-school friendBryan Jarr, the co-owner of The Madison Park Conservatory, who helped the book along. Miller will be the one to teach people like Hoda Kotband Kathie Lee Giffordto toss fish. (Good luck with that.)

But you can catch Miller and Jarr before they go: From noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Pike Place Fish will host an on-site party for the locals, with food made from some of the recipes.

Just watch your head.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.

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About Nicole Brodeur's Names in Bold

On Tuesdays, I tell you about my travels through some of the week's social and philanthropic events — not just the ones for the swells, but those for work-a-day folks who care about making this region move and improve.
nbrodeur@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2334

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