Plated Pleasures, Worthy Causes

Laurels

Arnaud’s Restaurant was the site for the night when the Louisiana Restaurant Association held its 2017 LRA Awards Reception and honored Tommy Cvitanovich, of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, as LRA Restaurateur of the Year; Paul, Scott and Steve Ballard, of Ballard Brands, Associate Members of the Year; and Conrad Appel, Louisiana State Senate – District 9, Advocate of the Year.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame were Leah Chase, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant; and, both posthumously, Warren Leruth and Don Weems, respectively of LeRuth’s and Waterfront Grill. Marie Leruth, widow of Warren, and Dee Weems, Don’s wife, and their son and daughter-in-law, Clay and Amy Weems, and daughter Anna Weems Sawyer accepted the awards. A final recognition went to Greg Hamer, of B & G Foods, LLC, who received the Chair’s Leadership Award.

After the welcome, LRA Chairman Greg Reggio, partner in Taste Buds Management, presented the above awards. The Chair’s Medal Presentation was presented by Stan Harris, LRA president and CEO.

Accolades flowed, especially from Klara Cvitanovich, Leanne (Mrs. Tommy) Cvitanovich, Katy Casbarian, Melvin Rodrigue, Mike and Lori Rodrigue, Tony Abadie, Randy Stein, Octavio Mantilla, Coleman and Cherie Adler, Stella Reese, Edgar Chase III and IV, Carol Ann Appel with the honored Conrad, state Rep. Kirk Talbot and Julie, and Torry, Lori and Kristi Ballard with honorees Paul, Steve and Scott.

Set atop the snowy white linens were Arnaud’s table lamps and quill chrysanthemums. Potted palms surrounded the main dining room and the LRA logo was projected on the wall via Gobo.

Of course, palate pleasures were to the fore. Passed hors d’oeuvres started the culinary activity (with such offerings as soufflé potatoes, oyster Bienville tartlets, crabmeat Prentiss) and three food stations then beckoned. Guests meal-meandered to turtle soup, smoked pompano rillettes, and sautéed shrimp and grit cakes with tasso cream sauce.

Singing at Their Supper

“Big Easy on My Mind” by Melinda Bargreen launched the first song of the two sets when the members of the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans assembled at Antoine’s Restaurant for a fundraising dinner. It was promised as an “August Night at Antoine’s filled with classic cuisine and marvelous music.” And delivered.

Soloists for the next voice-lifting numbers were Barbara Fontenot (“Louisiana Purchase”), clarinetist Ralph Gipson (“Louisiana 1927”), Romney Richard (“Down in New Orleans”), Roxanne Gray (“Almost There”), Reuven Bryer (“Ma Belle Evangeline”) and Lark Fall (“Dig a Little Deeper”). Other songs were on the agenda, all featuring the Crescent City and our state. As such, the rubric for the song-filled revelry was “Symphony Chorus of New Orleans Celebrates Louisiana and New Orleans in Song.”

Soufflé potatoes were among the first treats and were accompanied in proper bubbly style by Champagne Jean Noel Haton Brut Rose. Then came the appetizers of Oysters Foch, shrimp remoulade and crabmeat ravigote. To give the grapevine equal time, vintner Dr. James Moises, of Moises Wines, discussed the wines that were served.

A main course fish or filet was the subsequent choice (also with appropriate wines) and song followed. The chorus joined in for fun selections from Disney’s “Princess and the Frog” by Randy Newman.

Dessert, always special at Antoine’s because of baked Alaska, was given an added fillip. The talented assembly sang an excerpt of the “Hallelujah Chorus” as the signature dish was paraded from the kitchen.

Among those assembled were Cathy Kirkwood, Kevin and Sabrina Lord, Dr. Kay Jordan, Ronnie Guillot, Anne Parker, Cassie and Tom Evans, Patrick Berthelot-Nunez, Ernie Nunez, Teri Chalmers, Marci Kraus, Shanna and Michael Labranche, Lynn Lightfoot, Betty Nice, Harry and Susan Cooper, Karen Jakiela and others.

As the dinner concluded, music director Steven Edwards expressed appreciation. “We thank our sponsors, Antoine’s, Lafargue Pianos, Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine and Moises Wine, for helping us present this gala evening of great food, engaging music and superb wines.” His next words brought a smile to all: “We look forward to making this an annual event.”

Viva La Cure

Go fourth! And so it was when the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans (CAGNO), an agency of the United Way, held its fourth annual fundraising event, Viva La Cure — A Night of Hope, at The Chicory. The unique cocktail-attire and Latin-inspired event amassed patrons from the medical community, as well as local supporters of CAGNO. Music, a silent auction (including tickets to Walt Disney World), a raffle, spirits and other libations, and fine cuisine made “Viva” ever so vital.

Viva La Cure began as a memorial event for William J. Burtch, a Slidell resident, who received care on both the north and the south shores. His family and friends wanted to honor his memory by helping other people in the community undergoing cancer treatment. Among the many services of CAGNO is financial assistance to local cancer patients in 13 (fairly) nearby parishes.

Much of the hubbub at the event focused on the raffle’s white gold and diamond necklace donated by Wellington & Company; additional auction items, namely Southwest Airline flights, a four-course Emeril’s meal, and a “Mardi Gras Time” painting by French Live; and drinks sponsored by Republic National Distributing Company and Daiquiris & Co. Food was donated by 14 restaurants and purveyors, including the host site, The Chicory.

Two people were especially recognized: Kim Sport, founder of Breastoration (the Heart of CAGNO award), and the late James “Jimmy” Lanza, a retired New York City firefighter and a 9/11 rescue worker (the CAGNO Hope award). Gathered for congratulations were Dr. Jules Walters, Heather and Eric Hayes, Dr. Elizabeth and Jeff Rose, Yvonne Sterling, Katie and Ryan Kelly, Liz Williams, Lisa Pretus Ebarb, Amelia Leonardi, and Drs. Matt Gaudet, Aimee Mackey, Amy Rivere, Neil Duplantier, Gerry Cvitanovich, Andrea and Luis Espinoza, John and Patricia Morgan, and Scott Lanoux with spouse Sharon.

Javier’s Dance Company performed “the Malambo” under the artistic direction of Javier Juarez to the delight of the party pack. For folks who wanted to shake a leg, the Bucktown All-Stars struck up the music.

Finally, the best souvenir of an event is one that captures the spirit of the socializing. To that end, artist Kristen Schenck, of Nola Live Painting, rendered a live portrait of the bash.