For two days last week, Baton Rouge sparkled in the culinary spotlight as the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society held its ninth annual Fête Rouge at L’Auberge Hotel & Casino. Both events were sold out, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Club, 4H, Girls on the Run, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and ProStart, as well as epicurean scholarship funding in the greater Baton Rouge area.

Fête Rouge

Bobby Yarborough, CEO of Manda Fine Meats, was the man of the hour at the Grace “Mama” Marino Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner kicking off the festivities Aug. 27. The moment where Mama presented Bobby with the award was priceless, the looks on both of their faces speaking volumes. Assisting with the presentation were BRES President Kevin Kimball and Mayor Kip Holden, who served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

Also recognized at the event was Hattie Slaughter, recipient of BRES’ Service Industry Award. For 50 years now, Hattie has been “Mama’s right hand” in the kitchen of Gino’s Italian Restaurant.

The evening also featured a scrumptious seven-course dinner accompanied by handpicked fine wines, including 2012 Caymus and Groth Cabernet Sauvignons and Duckhorn Merlot. Showing off in the kitchen were chefs David Walker, Bonanno’s Fine Catering; Jeremy Langlois, Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant; Eric Arceneaux, Arceneaux’s Artisan Bakery; William Wells, Culinary Productions; Samantha and Cody Carroll, Sac-a-Lait; Joseph Dicapo, Carriage House at Houmas House Plantation; Dondi McNulty, The Little Village; and Matthew Reed, Reed’s Cakes & Catering.

Between courses, a lively live auction raised an impressive amount, including two dinners for eight that went for $10,000 each.

Some of us had less than 24 hours to recover from Thursday night’s extravaganza before we were sipping wines again, this time for the Fête Rouge media wine judging. My wine-tasting teammates Jennifer Brown and Lou Hudson and “coach” Kenny LaCour tasted the second group of Cabernet Sauvignons and we were all in agreement about our No. 1 choice — the Donati Family Vineyards’ 2012 Ezio. Second place went to Roth Estate’s 2012 Cab and third to B Side Winery’s 2012 Cabernet.

Friday’s party continued with the Fête du Vin, a premium wine tasting, and the Food & Wine Fête, which featured some 200 wines and culinary offerings from Acme Oyster House, Blend Wine Bar, Bin 77 Wine Bar, The Cabin, Chef Celeste’s Louisiana Treasures, Center Stage Catering, City Pork Brassierie, Cupcake Allie, 18 Steak, French Market Bistro, Galatoire’s Bistro, Gino’s, Gouter Restaurant, L’Auberge Hotel & Casino, Louisiana Culinary Institute, Louisiana Lagniappe, Mansurs on the Boulevard, Mestizo Mexican Restaurant, Parrain’s Restaurant, Reed’s Cakes & Catering, Sammy’s Grill Catering, Southern Fusion, Stroube’s Seafood & Steak, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Table Kitchen & Bar, Tallulah and Tsunami Sushi.

The other winners in the wine judging were the 2012 Valley of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, gold; J Loh Vineyards’ Seven Oaks Cab, silver; and 2013 Lander Jenkins Cab, bronze.

Winners in the red blend category were 2012 Donati Family Vineyards, Pine Ride 2012 Luminary and Chateau Bellevue Peycharneau — gold; Hahn Winery’s 2013 GSM, Marietta’s 2011 Angeli and Ruffino-Modus’ IGT Red — silver; and 2012 Saved, 2012 Hallowed Ground and 2011 Gerard Bertrand — bronze.

Taking home medals in the Pinot Noir category were Chamisal’s 2013 Stainless and 2012 J. Wilkes Vineyards — gold; 2014 Hahn Winery and Hahn’s 2013 SLH — silver; and J Lohr’s 2013 Falcon’s Perch and Cambria’s Clone 4 — bronze.

The winning Chardonnays were 2013 Truvee and 2012 Acacia — gold; Chamisal’s 2013 Stainless and 2013 Hindsight — silver; and 2012 Nicholas Potel and Baileyana’s 2013 Grand Firepeak — bronze.

Sauvignon Blanc winners were 2013 Loveblock — gold; 2014 Mohua — silver; and 2013 Lucian Crochet — bronze. Winners in the “other whites” category were Chehalem’s 2013 Raptor RDG Pinot Gris — gold; Kate Radburnd’s 2014 Pinot Gris — silver; and Stephen Ross’ 2013 Pinot Gris — bronze.

Winners in the sparkling wine category were Domaine Rosier’s non-vintage Blanc — gold; Renardet-Fache’s 2014 Cerdon-du-Bugey — silver; and Argyle’s 2011 Brute — bronze.

City Year

Before returning to L’Auberge on Friday evening, I had brunch with City Year at LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center. It was the kickoff of Red Jacket Weekend celebrating the organization’s 10th anniversary in Baton Rouge. Like so many projects in the planning stages when Hurricane Katrina hit, this one got fast tracked. What normally takes two years was done in 100 days with City Year alumni from around the nation coming to Baton Rouge to serve. Making it a reality were co-founders Jennifer Eplett Reily, who also serves as a trustee of City Year Inc., and Lori Bertman, CEO of the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Foundation.

Special guest for the celebration was Congressman Garret Graves. Sharing his memories of evacuating New Orleans and joining City Year was alum Theodore Richards. Attendees also heard from AmeriCorps members Amber Curry, Kerstin Groop and Trevor Perry.

Pink Tool Belt Bash

The week started off with Habitat for Humanity’s 10th annual Pink Tool Belt Bash at the Renaissance Hotel Aug. 25. The ballroom was a sea of pink for the fundraiser for Habitat’s Women Build, which gets underway Nov. 7 in the Fairfields neighborhood.

Serving as emcee for the event was WAFB’s Diane Deaton. She kept everyone motivated to shop the silent auction, which featured a plethora of items from jewelry to an LSU tailgate package, weekend getaways and makeovers.

If you feel like picking up a hammer for the cause, give Executive Director Lynn Clark a call at (225) 927-6651.

Anniversary celebration

In between all my other party hopping, I got to help Avalon Salon & Day spa owner Scott Brewer celebrate 20 years of “doing hair.” A lovely reception was organized by Brien Buxton for clients, family and friends to come by and join in on the festivities. Here’s to another successful 20, Scott!

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