For the past two weeks, my Thursdays and Fridays have been filled with multiple events. So, let’s not waste any time recapping all the fun.
Cause for Hope
My first stop on a very busy first Thursday in November was the offices of LATAN (Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network) for it’s A Cause for Hope wine and dine fundraiser. Attendees not only got to sample some great wines and enjoy a light dinner, they also got to tour LATAN’s assistive technology device demonstration center and bid on some fabulous silent auction items. Serving as mistress of ceremonies and entertaining everyone with her quick wit was Tiffany “The Mic Chick” Dicker son.
Stop No. 2 was LSU’s Hilltop Arboretum, which was all a twinkle for Audubon Louisiana’s Feathered Fête. Aside from benefiting a great cause, the main draw for this event was getting to eat the culinary offering of famed New Orleans chef John Besh, who’s also a member of the Audubon Louisiana board.
Including Besh, other special guests included National Audubon Society President David Yarnold, Audubon Louisiana board Chairman Christian Brown and jewelry designer Mignon Faget. She created a special feather necklace for the event’s silent auction. Inspired by the birds of Louisiana, it featured three sterling silver feather charms and one 14K gold charm on an adjustable sterling silver chain. Similar necklaces can be purchased at Faget’s galleries, with 10 percent of its cost being donated to Audubon Louisiana.
I got in a quick visit with Faget, Sue Turner, Cathy Coates, Ann Wilkinson, Beth and Bob Courtney and co-worker Danny Heitman and wife Catherine before heading to Stop No. 3.
Red Rooster Bash
It was on to the Rural Life Museum’s Red Rooster Bash, a casual, fun hoedown that benefits one of the city’s true treasures. Upon arrival, guests were offered the event’s traditional Red Rooster cocktail by Corinne Cook and fellow volunteer Sylvia Spaht. It was the perfect drink to sip while checking out the silent auction and visiting with Roy Powell Davis, Harriett Miller, Kathleen and Vic Howell, Elaine Ellis, Ruth and John Pace, John Bateman and Joanne Roberts.
Auctioneer Brian F our roux and Executive Director David Floyd conducted the live auction, which included a flight down the Mississippi River in a 1941 military trainer Stearman, a weekend getaway in New Orleans and a wooden fold-up table made by Zachary Career & Technical School students of Keith Larkin.
My last stop took me downtown to the Roux House, where Forum 35 was hosting its fall Uncorked wine tasting. The chosen varietal was red blends and teams of three brought three bottles of their favorites. Two of the bottles were put in brown bags for blind tasting; the third was put into the pot for the winning team to take home.
Taking possession of that instant wine cellar was the team of A Whiner & A Weiner, which brought the winning wine of 19 Crimes, better known as bottle No. 73. Coming in second place was Team Jennathon, which brought Evolution’s It’s About Time, bottle No. 54. Third place went to Team Blend & Snap, which brought 14 Hands’ Hot to Trot, bottle No. 62.
Proceeds from the event benefited City Year and projects of Forum 35.
The night of Oct. 29 began at what is always one of my favorite parties — the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s annual Old Governor’s Mansion Gala. This year, the 17th for the gala, celebrated the 250th anniversary of Acadians in Louisiana and featured an exhibit of 15 of George Rodrigue’s original paintings, “Saga of the Acadians,” courtesy of the Anne and Wendell Gauthier family and the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts.
Serving as chair couple for the gala were Katherine and Jason Doré. They welcomed VIPS to the Preview Party with underwriting sponsors Dr. Eric and Carrie Oberlander and new FHL Executive Director Fairleigh Jackson.
The night was extra special for two families. According to my sources, John Riley Spurlock, son of Vicki Spurlock, popped the question to Shelly Brennan, daughter of Tiffany and Clark Brennan, of New Orleans, in the middle of the festivities. I’m thinking this might become an annual event for them from now on.
Excellence in General
The Baton Rouge General’s 25th anniversary Excellence in General Gala was in full swing by the time I arrived at the Crowne Plaza — well, at least the cocktail portion of the evening. As the sell-out crowd mingled among the tempting silent auction items, they guessed what the night’s “surprise” entertainment might be. I knew but I wasn’t saying.
Everything appeared kosher when the dinner captain announced a woman’s purse had been found (in the men’s room) in his heavy Italian accent. We all laughed when a little while later he announced that the owner had been found … “You know who you are” … before bursting into song. He only sang a few bars before exiting the stage but soon returned after one of the guests “paid” to have him sing a “little Puccini,” which he did to the delight of the audience.
Then the beverage director, a Frenchman, came out and threw down the gauntlet that the French were better at opera than the Italians as he burst into the “Toreador Song.” These two continued to battle it out until, from the back of the ballroom, came the Cajun chef singing “Tonight, Tonight” from “West Side Story.”
All three teamed up to sing “That’s Amoré,” “Happy Birthday” to Dr. Will Russell and, the night’s finale, “It’s Now or Never.”
While the gala typically honors one person or family for their leadership and philanthropy to our community, the Baton Rouge General Foundation decided to honor everyone who’d been honored over the past 25 years. Starting in 1990 they included Dr. Page Acree Sr., Skip Bertman, Dr. Charles Prosser, Clyde E. Johnson, Ralph F. Howe Sr., Mary Jane Howell, Mary Frey Eaton, John W. Barton Sr., the Singletary Family, the Pennington Family, D. Jensen Holliday, Dr. Frank and Ann McMains, Paula Garvey Manship, Nanette Noland, the Claude Kirkpatrick Family, Dr. Eugene Berry and the Albemarle Corp., Kleinpeter Farms Dairy and the Leon & Lillian Kleinpeter Family.
My first stop on Friday, Nov. 6, was Circa 1857 for Hospice of Baton Rouge’s Wine Tasting Experience. The line for hors d’oeuvres was already out the door of Yvette Marie’s Café when I got there, and I must say the aromas were quite enticing. Wines, provided by Calandro’s Select Cellars, were flowing, too. I enjoyed catching up with Hospice Executive Director Kathryn Grigsby, Miriam Juban and Sidney Coffee, who gave me a personal tour of her cool new event space, The Guru. Providing a little shopping music were The Generations.
Co-hosting the fundraiser along with Select Cellars, Yvette Marie’s and The Guru were Forever Treasured, Mosaic Garden, Rue Cou Cou, Sally’s Circa 1857 and the Artists Inside Circa 1857. They donated 25 percent of the night’s sales to Hospice, the area’s only nonprofit hospice.
Cocktails in the Garden
From downtown I headed out to Essen Lane and the Burden Gardens for the second annual Cocktails in the Garden. Expecting a deluge, I was sporting my leopard rain boots, while almost everyone else was channeling old Hollywood. Planners had moved the tent from the gardens to the parking lot of the Burden Center as a precaution.
Competing for bragging rights for having the best cocktail were Bayou Rum, Beausoleil, Bin 77, Blend, Duvic’s, Galatoire’s Bistro, Juban’s Restaurant, Kona Grill, L’Auberge Casino & Hotel, Lock & Key Whiskey Bar, Olive or Twist, Radio Bar, Ruffino’s Restaurant and Velvet Cactus. As the several hundred guests sipped their libations, they noshed on the creations of Virginia College culinary students. Providing the perfect ambience for the evening were Ned Fasullo & the Fabulous Big Band Orchestra.
Knights Chef Cookoff
A week earlier, my Friday party hopping got underway at Episcopal High School, where teams from the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes were competing in the second annual Knights Chef Cookoff. Friend Whitney Vann enlisted me to help her and buddy Jay Ducote judge the competition, which is sponsored by Luci and Wayne Stablier.
Wayne, owner of several restaurants and a catering business, provided each team with 20 pounds of ground beef, 15 pounds of shrimp, 15 pounds of sausage and 15 pounds of chicken to create three menu items that tie back to their chosen reality TV show. The teams also had to decorate their tents, from which they sold their culinary creations to raise money for the school, and dress in costume.
The winner was the junior class team, which chose as its theme “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.” Coming in second was the sophomore “Survivor” team. Third place went to “The Amazing Taste” freshmen and the senior “Swamp People” came in fourth.
I didn’t sample enough food at Episcopal so I trekked to Live Oak Arabians to tackle the 30-plus entries (anybody have some Tums?) in this year’s Belly Up with the Bar, which benefits the Baton Rouge Bar Association’s Pro Bono Project. Helping me judge the sliders, bisques, gumbos and desserts were Kelsi Crain, Miss Louisiana 2010; the Rev. Watson Lamb, St. Luke Episcopal Church; William McGehee, Tin Roof Brewing Co.; Chris Nakamoto, WBRZ-TV; and Ellen Whitfield, The Advocate.
And the winners were: Best Grub first place — Donohue Patrick & Scott’s “Rocky Horror Kitchen Show” for their “Science Fiction Double Feature Goudin Balls”; Best Grub second place — Kean Miller’s “#KeanOnPrimeRib” for their Prime Rib Sliders, and Best Grub third place — Phelps Dunbar’s “Phelps Spud Bar” for their Mashed Potatoes with Crawfish Etouffée.
Also, Most Original — Seale Smith Zuber & Barnette’s “J.D. Evil” for their Short Rib Ragu; Best of Show — McGlinchey Stafford’s “The McGlinchey Minions” for their “Gru’s Gruel with Mini Corn Muffins”; Best Law School — LSU Law Center’s “Habeus Corpses” for their Chicken Bombs; Best Sauce — Mayhall Fondren Blaize for their Pepper Jelly Pork Sliders with Sambal-Sriracha Aioli; Best Sauce second place —Messer Law Firm’s “Abdominal Injury Attorneys” for Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce; Best Dessert — Shows Cali & Walsh’s “Pirates at Law” for their Oreo Cannon Balls; and Most Likely to Result in a Call to Your Liability Carrier — Baton Rouge Paralegal Association’s “Shooting for Justice” for their Subpoena Shrimp Shooters.
Taking home the People’s Choice Awards were: Taylor Porter’s ice cream treats, Best Elixir; Kean Miller’s “#KeanOnPrimeRib,” Best Food; “The McGlinchey Minions,” Silver Spatula (second-place best food); Taylor Wellons Politz & Dué’s Shrimp and Corn Soup, Silver Fleece (Buy Your Votes.)
Getting the nod from this year’s Belly Up committee, headed by Chairman Ben Anderson and Co-chairman Marcus Plaisance, were Postlethwaite & Netterville’s “Al-litigator Services” for their Alligator Sauce Piquante, Silver Fork (Best Food); and Breazeale Sachse & Wilson’s Fried Elvis Sandwich and Burning Love Milk Punch, Best Theme.
All Red Affair
I have to confess, I held up the program for a few minutes at Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge’s All Red Affair in order to get my photo and keep on the tight party schedule. I wish I could have hung around for the entire evening, as some of my favorite folks were being honored.
Chosen as this year’s celebrated families were good friend Sylvia Weatherspoon, husband Donald, son Donnie and daughter Taylor; John and Marty Engquist; Charles and Kary Landreneau and Dr. Tim and Laura Lindsey.
Buddies Karen and Bill Profita conducted a live auction of fabulous trips to places like Nashville, New York, Las Vegas, Cancun and Napa Valley.
Cat Tales & Cocktails
I caught back up with Whitney Vann at my last stop of the night — Cat Haven’s 14th annual Cat Tales & Cocktails Cat-illion Gala at the Crowne Plaza. She was handling emcee duties for the kitty crowd.
The night featured a killer silent auction, adult libations and yummy hors d’oeuvres as well as the chance to dance with the pros from Ric Seeling Dance Studio to the sounds of the Eddie Smith Band. Whitney and Ric were tripping the light fantastic when I arrived.
Proceeds from the event support Cat Haven, a no-kill nonprofit, with necessary funds for medical care and treatment, spay and neuter services, food, supplies and other ongoing expenses.
Blue Ribbon Soirée
More than $100,000 was raised at the fifth annual Blue Ribbon Soirée benefiting prostate cancer awareness and research, primarily research conducted by Dr. Oliver Sartor at Tulane Cancer Center. The gala is held in memory of the late Larry Ferachi and Joel Nasca by their family and friends.
Over 400 guests filled the ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel Oct. 15 for the festivities, reigned over by this year’s honorary chairmen — LSU coaches Paul Mainieri, D-D Breaux and Johnny Jones. The highlight of a lively live auction, conducted by professional auctioneer Terry Posey, of Cleveland, Tennessee, was a five-course dinner catered in the winner’s home by local chef Jeremy Coco, which went for $9,000. Also up for grabs were a Vahan bracelet and Rolex watch, both donated by Anton’s Fine Jewelry.
Serving as co-chairmen of the soirée were Janet Abernethy, Kathy and Ricky Lato, Gary and Frances McConnell and Janey Nasca. Other committee members included Paul Bologna, Mike Clegg, Sherry Eason, Megan Lato, Adam Lato, Emily Monsour, Gracie Rigell and Daniel Williams.
Follow Pam on Twitter @pamspartyline. Items for Pam’s Party Line must be received by 9 a.m. the Monday preceding the run date. High-resolution digital photos should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copy photos should be dropped off at or mailed to The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Events will run no later than four weeks after they have taken place. The date, place of the event and a contact name and daytime phone number must be included. Photos will be used at the discretion of The Advocate.