A Wine Time

There are auctions — and there are auctions! Founded 13 years ago by famous chef/restaurateur Emeril Lagasse and his wife, Alden, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation supports educational programs, life skills development, culinary training and cultural enrichment for children. To raise the funds to do all that, the foundation books a brace of events each year: the Friday night casual “Boudin, Bourbon & Beer” and the nationally recognized black-tie “Carnivale du Vin” on Saturday evening. The respective 2015 venues were Champions Square, where 5,000 people rubbed shoulders and savored the fare of at least 60 renowned chefs, and the Hyatt Regency and its tally of 600-plus. The honorary co-chairmen were Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski and Mario Batali.

To launch Carnivale’s most recent levity (and vinous liquidity), there was the Champagne Reception with Louis Roederer Champagne and the opening of the silent auction in the Hyatt Regency. Then came the Bacchus Reception with Silver Oak Cellars and winemaker David R. Duncan as the Honorary Bacchus and tastings from guest chefs Jose Andres, Kristen Kish and Art Smith.

After that, guests sat at sumptuously designed tables for sumptuous dining. Burgundy-colored table cloths and napkins bedecked the tables that were centered with clear vases holding white roses and hydrangeas done by Johnny Lopez and Perfect Presentations. At each place setting, there seemed to be a million wine glasses.

The Krewe du Vin Dinner ensued as presented by Chase Sapphire Preferred. Ty Pennington, author of “Ty’s Tricks” and the host of “American Diner Revival” on TV Food Network, was the master of ceremonies and, following the Emeril Lagasse Foundation video, host Emeril Lagasse stepped forward for remarks. Back at his table, he also chatted with a few choice folks about his fourth Crescent City restaurant. It will be in the Warehouse District on Girod Street and called Meril after his and Alden’s daughter.

The first course of five was titled Alaskan king crab lettuce wrap. The remaining ones were roasted Gulf oysters, rabbit and wild mushroom sausage, roasted Piedmontese beef and crispy chocolate Napoleon, along with warm chocolate soup and various cheeses. Each course was paired with a wine from an acclaimed vineyard. Headlining Emeril’s Culinary Team were CduV culinary director Chris Wilson (Emeril’s Homebase) and Sean Roe, culinary director for Lagasse’s Las Vegas restaurants, while Tony Lott headed Emeril’s Service Team.

To entertain, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Fleur de Tease, and Boogie Wonder made a mark. Another was the after-dinner-served Sandeman Tawny Port.

Around and about were “Inspire. Mentor. Enable,” keywords of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation that has him, Emeril J. Lagasse III, as chairman of the board and founder, spouse Alden as co-founder and, as board members, the above Mario Batali, Bridget Bender, Suzanne Pride Bryan, Paul Frank (treasurer), Robert Goldstein, William H. Hines (a former Rex), Dan Kosta, Eric Linquest, Mark C. Romig, Gary N. Solomon (secretary) and Michael C. Thompson. Some from near, others afar. Brian Kish presides over the foundation staff that included Antonia Keller, Grace H. Fitzmorris, Molly Loubiere, Erin Key and Tina Dixon-Williams. Names of those receiving special thanks would have filled a tome, but several were Hyatt Regency general manager Michael Smith, along with the hotel’s Andreas Jensen, Kathy Mata, chef Eric Damidot and the wait and kitchen staffs; the five major sponsors; and Grand Marshal Sponsors Shelly and David Kim and The Solomon Family.

Noted within the “Carnivale” crowd were Rusty Staub, Mayor Mitch Landrieu who spoke, Bill Goldring, Jose and Ileana Suquet, chef Adolfo Garcia, Mary Hines with the above William “Bill,” Neil Freeman and family members, Dr. Eddie and Cindy Brennan Davis, Paul and Jill Varisco, Cedric Martin and at one table, Kenneth and Nina Friend, Cathy and Rivie Cary and Sandy and Leah Whann, who chatted with Larry and Karen Maguire of Far Niente winery in the Napa Valley.

On both nights, there were auctions. The Saturday silent auction ado showcased boards for “Wine,” “Luxury” and “Travel.” Then there was the Super Silent selection.

Up next was the live auction and Scott Robertson as the auctioneer – he is a full time professional benefit auctioneer, and the excitement of 22 “live” lots, such as Golden Super Bowl for Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. It will be the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary.

The numbers had it for these fabulous two days of gallivanting and gastronomy. Generosity, too. More than $3 million was raised for the foundation’s children’s programs.

Magic in the Park XXI

Sponsored by Christian Brothers Foundation, the gala/auction Magic in the Park XXI celebrated 55 years of academic excellence of Christian Brothers School, City Park Campus. The president and principal is Joey M. Scaffadi. Foundation operations executive and event coordinator Carol Couvillion (joined by son Josh, a CBS alumnus) greeted guests, the CBS “family,” while foundation President Jose Abadin (with Judy) and CBS board Chairman Nolan Lambert thanked the gala-goers.

Jennifer Lichtl and Lisa Yarborough (with Daniel and Mike) chaired the patron party at which Brother John Mai, F.S.C. snapped party photos and The Deluxe Jazz Trio played; and a fivesome in Bridgette Graham, Peggy Lulich, Cindy Mandina, Karen Terry and Jodi Williams were the auction’s chairwomen. Patrons were led into the main event by three of the recent “Dancing with the Stars”-type teams, consisting of Joey Scaffidi and Stephanie Quinlan, Tommy Cvitanovich and Diane Barnett, and Brian Landry and Julianne Watson. Sarah Stuckey choreographed.

Approximately 600 attendees entered the chandelier-lit cultural center that was embellished with black and white and a touch of silver. Thanks targeted new CBS parents Amy Burke, Lyndi Ainsworth, Allison Deviney and Keri Landry (with spouses Kelly, Kirk, Rob and Brian) while Federico’s Family Florist’s arrangements added more loveliness.

Food Chairwoman Cindy Mandina, along with help from Steve Pettus, Michael Pettus and Petra Guste, spearheaded the restaurants and caterers. A half dozen purveyors offered libations.

Concerning the bidding, 280 auction items enticed (with donor names Restaurant Borgne and George Rodrigue among the many) and the six Falcon Mega Packages produced Judith Graffeo as the Vacation Raffle winner and?George Malek with free tuition for a year.

Within the “Magic” many were foundation board Chairman Ray Radetich, former Chairman Joe Taranto with daughter Nicole Allen, Heath and Tricia Barker, Michael Prat and Rachael, Ann and Adam Dowling, Jane and Rene Alvarez, John McMahon, Ken and Ashley Zito, Rick and Betsy Chavone, Chris and Nicole Laiche, Brother Lawrence Konsersmann, and legions more, who capped the glorious evening boogieing to The Benchwarmers.

Students of Yore

The Studs Club – Studs being short for students — held its Pre-Holiday Scholarship Social at LaBelle Place in LaPlace on a recent Sunday evening. Immediately the party eye was pleased with the décor: round tables were draped in gold and black satin with various green vases holding different floral arrangements as centerpieces.

Hot finger foods included coconut shrimp, fried chicken strips, and crab balls, while green salad, jambalaya, a huge fruit tray and bread pudding offered additional taste treats.

The roster of the Studs Club includes David Williams Jr. as president and Raymond Brown, Charles F. Webb, Joseph W. Marion Jr., Michael B. Bruno, Dwayne K. Pierce, the Rev. John Penny, Reginald A. Thomas and John M. Blanchard as officers. Member James C. Smith served as master of ceremonies, President Williams introduced new club members, and Pierce presented scholarships to (among others) Dillard, SUNO, Xavier, and Grambling. Other formalities, such as Hall of Fame recognition, ensued.

Enjoying all of the fun and fraternizing were the guests of the Studs Club, namely Mr. and Mrs. Merrell Merricks, the Adolph Bynums, Dr. and Mrs. Percy Pierre, the Vernon Thomases, Evelyn Batiste, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Owens, the B. Cameron Whites, Leontine Mark, Millie Campbell, Raoul Duroncelet, Jennifer Burns-Reed, the Clarence Ancars, Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Starks, Rhonda Timpton, and Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Llorens. About 340 more whose spirits were gleefully gladdened by BRW, the R & B band.