LOS ANGELES — I first met Eva Chow — encountered would actually be a better term — in 2013 in the courtyard of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was the museum’s third Art & Film Gala, and Mrs. Chow, a host with Leonardo DiCaprio, was working the room like a piranha in a goldfish bowl. Air kisses with François-Henri Pinault. Chitchat with Jane Fonda. An excited wave to Ed Ruscha.
After elbowing to her jet-embroidered side (she was wearing a black column gown, custom made by Gucci), I reached out to shake her hand and introduce myself. Instead of grasping it, the cultural queen handed me a Champagne flute. “Could you hold this for a minute?” she said, before I got a word out. Photographers descended.
Flash! Pop! And then she was gone.
For the last 23 years, Mrs. Chow — first name pronounced Aay-vah, obviously — has been largely defined by her marriage to Michael Chow, the celebrity restaurateur. She gave up a successful fashion line, Eva Chun, in 1994 to be a mother. Yes, she has played a crucial role in keeping the Mr. Chow chain humming. But mostly her husband has basked in the spotlight while she has played the supporting part.
That seems to be changing. With the bespectacled Mr. Chow approaching 77 and concentrating on making art, Mrs. Chow, who is in her late 50s, has increased her focus on their business, particularly when it comes to growth. A sixth location opened in Malibu, Calif., in 2012. Las Vegas and Mexico City are next. Last month, she oversaw the introduction of an exclusive Mr. Chow-branded wine.
“I have to do more,” Mrs. Chow said over tea at her mansion here two weeks ago. “Michael paints day and night, and I mean day and night obsessively.”
Mrs. Chow has also become perhaps the most high-profile member of the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, no small feat considering that the 53-member board includes the likes of Elaine Wynn, Casey Wasserman and Lynda Resnick. Starting in 2011, Mrs. Chow began a new effort to raise money for film-related programming. Her resulting Art & Film Gala, sponsored by Gucci and held next on Nov. 7, has since been deemed a West Coast version of Anna Wintour’s Met Gala.
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