Louie, Louie

The Board of Trustees of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and music director Carlos Miguel Prieto requested the pleasure of note-worthy company for the LPO’s 24th Opus Ball at the Armstrong Ballroom of the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. Paulette and Frank Stewart chaired the festive evening that included a full orchestral concert, dinner, dancing and a live auction. Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, as a special guest, gave a tribute to Louis Armstrong. Patrons assembled at 6 p.m., the concert started at 6:30, and dinner and dancing followed an hour later.

Mastheaded were the top sponsors, the Event Sponsors, with the names of Marilyn V. Dittmann and Paul J. Leaman Jr., First NBC and Jones Walker. A brace of other categories recognized generosity. From the LPO came CEO James Boyd, board President Hugh W. Long with spouse Susan Krinsky and orchestra President Stephen Orejudos. Additional officers are board Vice President Walter Harris, Treasurer Timothy Kelly and assistant Treasurer Jim Atwood.

The excitement of Armstrong was rollicking and real. Starring the LPO, conductor Prieto, and Ruffins for vocals and trumpet prowess, the concert entertained with such numbers as “South Rampart Street Parade,” Jeepers Creepers” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.” Guests danced during the entire concert, especially to the concluding number, “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In.” The after-concert music was by the Preservation Hall Quintet.

Sitting to sup, Opus-goers admired the table arrangements of tulips, irises and daffodils, and then relished the cuisine of chef Tom Siedel. The menu’s three courses were titled Prelude, Symphony and Encore and included a butter lettuce salad, a duet of tenderloin of beef and giant prawns and a dark chocolate mousse.

Mark Romig, who was joined by David Briggs, stepped forward as the auctioneer for the live portion. Guests showed bidding alacrity for the Viking River Cruise’s Grand European Tour, the Viking River Holiday Market Cruise and the George Rodrigue “Take Five” print signed by Randy Newman. Top respective bidders, all smiling, were the above Hugh Long, Bob Thomas, and Donna and Russell Klein.

Still others making Opus their black-tie activity were the above Marilyn Dittmann and Paul Leaman Jr., Ann and Dick Strub, Christine and Price LeBlanc, Phyllis Taylor, Valerie Besthoff, Lorraine and Scott Chotin (who swapped wedding vows on Oct. 25, 2014), Joanne and Larry Gay, Sheila and Dwight McGhee, Stephanie Thompson and John Reeks, Joyce and Sidney Pulitzer, Dr. Robert Cangelosi and Ann Yvette de la Villesbret, Ann Duffy and John Skinner, and dozens more.

The day after the gallivanting, Paulette Stewart was raving about the event and its success. “I’m thrilled,” she said, continuing with “It was truly beautiful and everybody danced and danced.”

Moroccan Roll Revelry

In a short time, just seven years, Hogs for the Cause has become one of spring’s top foodie fundraisers with competing barbecue teams and a slew of bands. City Pork (ahem!) is the annual location for the swarm of tens of thousands.

In due time, not only did HftC announce the names of the Grand Champion, category winners and top fundraiser for the 2015 Ben Sarrat Jr. “High on the Hog” cook-off presented by Children’s Hospital, but also revealed the new inductees into the Hog of Fame: Matt Colosino, Andrew Shuford and Jim Fein. Rene Louapre and Becker Hall are co-founders of the event that has become the premier funding source for pediatric brain cancer outreach services in the United States. The competition teams raised $765 for Cause. It’s also gained renown as one of the 10 best barbecue festivals across America.

To launch this swine time, an enticing dinner at Popps Fountain (also in City “Pork”) unfolded featuring “Mediterranean Street Fare” presented by the Link Restaurant Group and chef friends from the Fatback Collective. It was marqueed “Moroccan Roll” and embellished with bright Mediterranean colors to set the stage. String Remedy, the music makers, played during the cocktail hour, where Neal Bodenheimer and his Cure team served the libations.

Additional features were the family-style dinner (the lamb shoulder was a huge hit!), vodka thanks to Candace and Zack Froesch (Cathead Vodka), and the auction managed by Alex Layfield. The big packages included a trip to New York City to see Billy Joel in concert and a private dinner for 40 at La Boca for Super Bowl/Bacchus Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Mardi Gras is Feb. 9.)

Going whole hog in support of Cause – and attending the lively dinner – were HftC board members starting with the above founders Louapre and Hall, Treasurer Zandy Rainold and spouse Margot, and William Wolf, Jennifer Bond and Ben Guider. From the Louisiana Children’s Medical Center came CEO Greg Feirn, as well as Brian Landry. Others milling were chef Donald Link, Adam and Cynthia Avin, Bobby Hawkins, Chris and Leighellen Puckett, Chris Roos, Stephen Stryjewski, Max and Vicky Loubiere, Brittany Gowland, Joe and Cheryl Georgusis, Bill Stegbauer, Samuel Panice, Alex Pappas, Jessica Ibert, Katie Gilly and Kirk Coco, president of NOLA Brewing. The first release of the company’s newest special brew, “Hog Tied,” took place at the dinner, where to further the limelighted country and Mediterraneana gastronomy, the waiters wore fezzes.

Thank You, Father

“The President and Board of Ambassadors of Our Lady of Holy Cross College cordially invite you to dinner celebrating ‘Thank You, Father!’?” was scripted atop the invitation honoring and thanking the Rev. Thomas E. Chambers, C.S.C. and Ph.D., former president of Our Lady of Holy Cross College, for his years (1987-2004) of leadership, service and ministry to the college and its community.

The prandial encomiums at the Metairie Country Club occurred after Mass nearby at St. Francis Xavier Church. Ambiance, along with gratitude, was to the fore in the club’s dining room, where lovely and colorful bouquets of roses and baby’s breath trimmed with silver ribbons centered the tables. The menu included Country Club salad, pork loin, and praline bread pudding.

A particular highlight of the event, which raised $20,000 for the Thomas E. Chambers Scholarship at OLHCC, was the presentation to Father Chambers of the Spes Unica Medal and a piece of original art work by Thomas “Tuna” Seither.

On hand for applause were the Most Rev. Fernand Cheri III, the new auxiliary bishop of New Orleans at his first public ceremony (and who led everyone in song); OLHCC board Chairman Kyle France and board Vice Chairwoman Dennise Sauvage; Jan Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic Schools; former OLHCC President Paul Ceasar and Barbara; and OLHCC executive Vice President Ken Tedesco and spouse Betty (who are fairly newlyweds).

And, Susan and Milton Lackey, Fred and Dee Fuchs, Jane Nalty with son Monsignor Christopher Nalty, Sister Ann Lacour, MSC, Sharon and Mark Rodi, Scott and Jane Wolfe, Linda Rabalais with mom Beverly Reuther, the Very Rev. Neal McDermott, O.P., alums Erin and Joe Caruso, Margaret Shannon, Judy Miranti, alums Joey and Kollette Mandina Ditta, Pam Lincoln, Mike Lopez and Terri Bice, Pat Fenerty, Maureen Porteous and scores more.

All agreed with OLHCC President David L. “Buck” Landry, Ph.D., who said “Father Chambers contributed so much to Holy Cross College. This dinner will allow us to show our appreciation and gratitude.”