Red Letter Revels

The waiting game! And it was on a recent Saturday evening when Archbishop Rummel High School presented “A Red Letter Evening,” the 23rd annual Celebrity Waiters Celebration. Thirty-six area VIPs served 360 guests for dinner in the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton New Orleans Airport Hotel, scurrying about to get their tables served as soon as possible. Behind that was the desire to raise the most tips, which then became funds for the school. Fun, too.

Under the direction of the hotel’s executive chef Donald White, gala goers enjoyed salad, braised beef, and strawberry shortcake. (Behind the scenes, the celebrity waiters cooked up their own “menu” of competition. The final tip totals determined the overall top waiter.)

“Red” headliners were school faculty member and parents Charlene and Paul Wetzel, the chaircouple. The Advancement Team was made up of outgoing school President Brother Gale Condit, FSC, Donald Stout, Theresa Reech, and Missy Aymami. The Ray and Jessica Brandt Family Foundation and the Womac Law Firm (thanks to alumnus Ed Womac) were the sponsors, and alumnus A.J. Giardina, sports director of WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi, served as master of ceremonies.

Concerning decorations, the “Red”-diness was all, starting with the entrance red carpet and moving on to columns, table accessories, and blinking bow neckties sported by the 100-plus Raider students who helped. Particular thanks addressed Randi and Lori Gervais and Royal Productions.

Silent and live auctions added even more excitement. The musical accompaniment came via the Archbishop Rummel/Archbishop Chappelle jazz band under the direction of Christian Bautista. After an introduction by emcee A.J. Giardina, Henry Shane led the packed ballroom in lively bidding. Among the top bidders were Shannon and Dominick Impastato (Jamaica and Napa Valley packages), Joanna and John Theriot (an “NCIS New Orleans” experience), Albert Richard (a Madonna and Child painting), and Robert Robinson (an Emerald Towers condo stay in Destin, Florida). Of keen interest was dinner for eight at alum Tommy Cvitanovich’s Drago’s Restaurant with alumnus/ U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise. It was bought by Jefferson Parish President Michael Yenni and Michelle.

Looking around the room, guests spotted the Yennis, Brother Gale, school principal and alum Marc Milano, the Brandts, Pat Shane with auctioneer Henry, and a host of titled celebs, who answered to waiter for the evening: Ashton Ryan Jr., Tim McConnell, the above Dominick Impastato, Jennifer Van Vrancken, Joey Scaffidi, Peter Finney Jr., Dennis Assaf, John Theriot (with Joan), Nell Nolan, Roger Villere and about 26 others, who then waited to hear the winners’ names announced. Emcee Giardina called out Ashton Ryan, who, once again, amassed the most tips; Kenner Councilman Impastato for second place; and, as top alumnus and top first-time waiters, John Theriot and Mike LaCoste.

The most suspense occurred when a winning ticket was drawn for a 2016 Toyola Camry donated by the above Brandt foundation. Elizabeth Bauman beamed as the winner.

Dress for Success

Suits and Salads Luncheon packed the Empire Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on a recent Friday. Lauren “Fleurty Girl” LeBlanc was the keynote speaker; Capital One and Peoples Health, the top sponsors; Meaghan Bonavita, Nadine Brown, Carol Starr and Tamara Wyre, the event co-chairwomen; Susan Garic Wallace and Leigh Thorpe, in turn chairing the auction and volunteers; and Diane M. Riche, the president. Her predecessor was Juli Miller Hart and her successor, the above Meaghan, whose parents, Pam and Bill Ryan, made luncheon rounds. Celeste P. McDonald is the treasurer and Lori Byargeon, the volunteer coordinator and boutique manager.

More luminaries were Katherine C. Madere, a Dress for Success client; 2016 Style Setters Claudia Powell and Charlotte Drennan (for Angelique), Kim Elms and Eleanor Davis (Azby’s), Paulette McGlothan and Daviauna Morrell (Dress for Success), Tonya Stiel and Allison Stiel (sopo), Betsey Todd (W by Worth Collection); and Volunteer of the Year Sue Dunne. Hiller’s was especially thanked for the raffle jewelry.

Befitting the luncheon‘s title, salad was the main course. For the sweet indulgence, there were little packets of delicious, thin sliced chocolate.

Within the audience, many of whom made constant tracks to the auction tables, were Jane Casbarian, Lynne Burkart, Liz Broekman, Holley Haag, Elwood Cahill, Dinah Campbell, Essence Banks, Charlotte Jane Sawyer and mom Sheila Lemann, Liz Lapeyre, Traci Lucas, sisters Joyce Delery and Anne Comarda, and Detrich Hebert Johnson. Everyone loved the clever centerpieces, purses filled with posies, and lined up to purchase them.

Danke and Diplomacy

The Federal Republic of Germany, through its Houston Consul General Ricarda Redeker, hosted a reception at the Guild Home of the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association. During that time, Consul General Redeker presented W. Paul Andersson, retiring honorary consul of Louisiana, with the Order of Merit with Ribbon on behalf of the German government in recognition of his 17 years of service, and then inducted and installed Susanne Veters as the new German honorary consul for Louisiana. The latter thanked the assembled well-wishers from the Louisiana Consular Corps, attorneys from her law firm (McGlinchey, Stafford), and family.

Guests exchanged news as they enjoyed the purveyance of Ralph Brennan Catering, such as passed canapes and an array of German food presentations. From the Louisiana Consular Corps came Dean James “Jim” Sutterfield, honorary consul of St. Vincent & the Grenadines; and honorary consuls Constance “Conny” Willems (the Netherlands), Judge James McKay III (Ireland), Philip D. Lorio III (Austria), Kenneth Zezulka (Czech Republic), Cesar Lurati (Uruguay) and Alexandra Mora (Switzerland). Then there was Paul’s wife Billie, along with Dr. Hans Andersson, Dr. Christiane Andersson, Dr. Andrea Andersson and John Cable, Lise Andersson Logan, and Britta and Everard Marks. Also, Susanne Veters’ mother Christiane Artmann, dad Wulf Artmann, brother Philip Artmann, and sister Genia Ridling.

In his brief appreciation remarks, Paul Andersson commented on the fitting nature of the Guild Home as the venue. Because of the appointment of his father, the late Dr. Knud Andersson, as musical director and conductor of the New Orleans Opera, the family came to the city. Paul also recalled that about 46 years ago, the German government bestowed the same Order of Merit upon his father.