“Groove on Down” and Downtown were party signals when the Louisiana Children’s Museum held the 16th annual CHAIRish the Children to benefit the museum with Capital One Bank as the presenting sponsor and the Julia Street museum as the spot for a take on “Saturday Night Fever” and fun.
Not far away, but on a different date, the Louisiana Restaurant Association marqueed “Five Star Futures,” a benefit held in the Napoleon Ballroom of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside to raise money for the LRA Education Foundation. The scholarship recipients and award winners were numerous. Limelighted, too.
n Chairish Is the Word
Retro revelry emblazoned the night when the Louisiana Children’s Museum billed a “DY-NO-MITE” signature event to “celebrate all things 70s.” Supporters were encouraged to don disco duds for an exciting evening with purveyance by 20 super restaurants, music, and a 110-item auction featuring unique chairs, artwork, jewelry, travel, and staycation packages. The one-of-a-kind chairs have given a name to the bash. Not only were the bucks pledged for bidding, but also for raffle tickets and a chance to win a $1,500 Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry shopping spree. A dozen distinctive entries figured in the live auction that had Mark Romig helming the going, going, gone.
Teamed to chair “CHAIRrish” were Kathleen and Ben Banta and Marcie and Ches Gardner. Additional headliners were Chairmen Jennifer and Mason Couvillon and Mia and Scott Couvillon, patron party; Amy Lawler, auction; Elizabeth and Jack Egle and Danielle and Robert LeBlanc, restaurants; Kim Abramson and Blair DuQuesnay (with husbands state rep. Neil Abramson and Henry DuQuesnay), the “CHAIR” segment; and Quincy Crawford and Sarah Feirn, decorations. An A-Z committee of 52 started with Ancira (Rebecca) and finished with Zander (Camille).
Julia Bland, who answers to CEO of the Louisiana Children’s Museum, praised the fun, fundraiser as a showcase of the talent and generosity of our community and a way to bring “attention to the important work of cherishing our children.” Proceeds ensure the LCM’s educational programs and exhibits for next generations.
Patrons were the first to brighten the premises that were all asparkle in keeping with the throwback theme. Bright white lights, (some spelling out “CHAIRish”), gold glittery fringe, and stars were among the decorative accents. Schlumberger sponsored this early-on hobnobbing, which featured gourmet cuisine by Peche Seafood Grill, a signature Firefly Moonshine cocktail and an exclusive auction board. Sixty minutes later, it was on to the main event and three more hours of the ’70s salute.
During those happy hours, some of the “Groove” group included LCM board President David Farnsworth and spouse Lisa, Schlumberger’s Walt Navoy with fiancée Allyson Cabes, Tricia Weeks and John Gonzalez, Charlotte Bollinger, Lizette and Brett Terral, Paulette and Frank Stewart, and Danielle Leger and her husband, state Rep. and Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger III.
Another state representative, Julie Stokes, made rounds along with husband Dr. Larry Stokes, Paula and Mark Jeansonne, Bes s and Matt Meeks, Eleanor Farnsworth, Cheryl and Lee Cabes, Sue Ellen and Joe Canizaro, Angel and Taylor Beery, Susan Couvillon chatting with Peter Abadie, shopping spree raffle winner Jim Miller, and auction donor Terrance Osborne with Stephanie. Regaling the whole lot — scores more, too — was DJ El Camino, who looked a lot like Michael Hecht of GNO Inc. As a disco divo, he upped the party temperature with such numbers as “Le Freak,” “Stayin’ Alive,” Disco Inferno,” and “Last Dance.”
Fueling the frolic were such dishes as beef sliders, watermelon gazpacho, leek shitake champagne soup, crawfish truffled gnocchi, and dark chocolate ice cream with a salty caramel sauce. Energized, the DY-No-Mite minglers decided not to stop until they had enough dancing. When the DJ spun “We Are Family,” the floor was packed. Not one chair was occupied.
“This is all about our industry,” began special Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation guest Ken Conrad as he addressed the crowd in the Hilton’s Napoleon Ballroom during the Five Star Futures. He was speaking about the next generation, saying that many (about 90 percent) of the 30 scholarship recipients and award winners in attendance would follow a career in the hospitality industry.
The philanthropic foundation, LRAEF, exists to enhance the community through expanded educational and career opportunities, partnerships, and the elevation of standards and practices within the profession.
Prior to his speech, a number of program principals strode forward, starting with LRAEF Chairwoman Helen LeBourgeois. Next up were Carolyn Senac (LRAEF ProStart Educator of the Year), LRA President and CEO Stan Harris (with Michelle), the above Ken Conrad, auctioneers Mark Romig (CEO of New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corporation) and Greg Reggio (chef and owner, Taste Buds Management), and LRA Chairman Bruce Attinger (with Jan) to present the LRA awards. Take a bow, Mickey Freiberg (with Barbara), state Rep. Erich Ponti (with Lisa), Ruffin Rodrigue and Peter Sclafani (with wives Alison Rodrigue and Michelle Sclafani), and the Marino Family. That’s Grace “Mama,” Gino, Vincent, Laurence and Frances Marino.
One of the evening’s choicest moments arrived with the recognition of various categories of scholarship recipients: Liana Aucoin, Sabrina Bodenheimer, Wade Bowers, Victoria Cart, Bryan Tyler Day, Lauren Fendlason, Jessica Foret, Tate Jones, Peyton Leffingwell, Nicholas LoCicero, Jordan McClelland, Melissa McGuire, Thien Nguyen, Sadie Poche, and Hillary Scott, And, Traci Andely, Sunni Authemont, Lindsey Carroll, Thaddeus Christy, Garrett Couvillon, Rachel DeFelice, Tashira Green, Brooklyn Hawkins, April Lee, Keiyana Price, Shelby Smith, Christian Sturgeon, Nicole Washington, Marcus Williams, and Nicole Biddy. The LRAEF awarded $61,000 in scholarship money to them.
Meanwhile, the “Star” set sat to sup. The four-course dinner commenced with a Bibb lettuce salad (topped with a fried buster crab), and moved on to trout meuniere and braised short ribs courses. The finale was Louisiana bread pudding. The tables had “crosswinds” centerpieces by Fancy Faces of clear glass globes, plump yellow roses and bamboo sticks on a lighted base. They sat atop gold-colored stands.
A further attraction was the décor of muted gold and eggplant and the backdrop (with credit to the Freeman Company).
Noted in the packed ballroom, along with LRAEF Chairwoman Helen LeBourgeois, were Tony Abadie, Katy Casbarian, the above-mentioned state Rep. Walt and Danielle Leger, and John Eastman, who showed the evening’s featured “The Pot &The Palette Cookbook” to Eric Hoffman of Birmingham, Alabama, COO of Hoffman Media LLC. (The colorful cookbook benefits the LRA Education Foundation & The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts.)
Still others in the LRA flock were Ralph Brennan, David Briggs with the above Mark Romig, Tommy and Leanne Cvitanovich, Dwight and Carolyn Barnes, Melvin Rodrigue, and Delgado Community College Chancellor Joan Davis. To mention a few, whose attendance recognized today’s industry leaders and showed support for the education of the next generation. Hospitality to the fore!