n All Things City of Light

A thematic stroll down the Rue de Rivoli. Flanerie on the Champs-Elysees. And the luminary power of the Eiffel Tower at night. These, and many other favorite sites – and sights – figured in “An Evening in Paris” at Generations Hall during the Cookies & Cocktails fundraiser for the Girl Scouts Louisiana East. Chaired by Stephanie Osborne and board member Dr. Allison Augustus-Wallace, joined by husbands Terrance Osborne and Hugh V. Wallace III, the bash raised funds and awareness for GSLE’s leadership program for girls. Albemarle Foundation was the Gold Sponsor.

As guests entered the party premises, they were immediately given a fleur-de-lis medallion necklace and serenaded by a strolling accordion player to set the mood. Looming above was a lighted replica of the marqueed city’s Eiffel Tower. Further décor included sparkling white lights, feather boas draped on the tables and balconies, and the Gallic-inspired garb sported by many attendees.

The patron party before the gala was hosted by Pelican Publishing, featuring Marvin Allen of the Carousel Bar and his Pelican Publishing Pixies. All enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and desserts prepared by them, as well as Allen’s signature cocktail, “Madame Rouge,” which was served in a champagne flute donated by Dorignac’s.

The three-hour gala highlighted 20 chefs and bartenders from area restaurants, who created one-of-a-kind appetizers, desserts and cocktails using everyone’s favorite Girl Scout cookies. (Recent Academy Award- watchers appreciated the starring role the cookies had on that Oscars show.) Throughout “Evening,” attendees and celebrity judges sampled this array of tasty selections and voted on their favorites. Yummm!

Entertainment figured in the fun with a Parisian flair. Costumed dancers with Les ReBelles NOLA dance group performed the cancan for both patron and gala guests, delighting tout le monde with their dexterity. Additionally, Papa C & the Slammin’ Horns made music throughout the bash for general dancing or listening from the balconies or side tables. Further excitement was generated by the 610 Stompers.

Handled online, the approximately 100 auction items included prints by artists George Rodrigue and Terrance Osborne, and Southwest Airlines tickets. Auction action created its own special buzz, as did the appearance of celebrity judge and Girl Scout alumna Jackie Clarkson and spouse Buzz, who were celebrating their 63rd anniversary.

Notables, and there were beaucoup, included GSLE board Chairwoman Robyn Merrick, master of ceremonies Kenny Lopez of WGNO-TV News with a Twist, Ralph Phillip of Silver Sponsor Valero, Beth and Daniel LeBlanc of Bronze Sponsor Whitney Bank, state Sen. Dan and Sharmaine Claitor, WVUE-TV news anchor Nancy Parker, and GSLE board officers Joan Mollohan with Robert, Veronica Osby, Kelly McKinney with George, Julie LeBlanc with Chuck, and board member Raquel Square-Ayles with husband Charles Ayles.

Then there were the celebrity judges: Clarkson, Matt Murphy, Dr. Corey Hebert, and Meg Farris. They, and voting party-goers, placed “winner” on chef Eugene Temple (whose Best Dessert award was picked up by Kelder Summers-Jones), chef Ed Rhinehart for his appetizer, and bartender Dave Jackson, Best Cocktail. The People Choice Award tapped corporate executive chef Deanna Stephens for the second year in a row and “honorable mention” limelighted chef Eileen Bennett. Before awarding the winners their engraved hi-ball glasses, emcee Lopez invited all the participating chefs and bartenders to the stage, where in addition to receiving effusive applause, each got an engraved shot glass.

n Dining with the Stars

Touro Synagogue was the venue for cocktails, motzi (the blessing) and the Shaya-catered dinner, and the opportunity for socializing with celebrities at “Dining with the Stars.” Within that constellation were David Bernard, Jim Bernazzani, Neal Bodenheimer (who also crafted specialty cocktails), Clancy DuBos with wife Margo, David Hammer, Jim Henderson, Angela Hill with husband Irwin Marcus, Kim Holden with Bobby Blanchard, Bruce Katz, Jim Letten with JoAnn, Travers Mackel, Fletcher Mackel, Donny Markowitz with Carol, Spud McConnell, Helena Moreno, Sally Shushan, and Jason Williams. They added a lot of excitement as they bustled for tips.

Attending, too, were Rabbis Alexis Berk (with Bob) and Todd Silverman, and Cantor David Mintz, joined by Deborah.

Guests entered off St. Charles Avenue through the beautifully lit Bowsky Garden, where Jeremy Marx, Oliver Watkinson and Moses Eder rendered the jazzy beat. Within, and in the main dining room, large white lanterns and gold stars hung from the ceiling. Thus, attendees dined under the stars, as well as with them!

The table centerpieces were gold branches creatively arranged and decorated with hanging stars of gold, white and silver. White flowers and butterflies completed the pretty look, as did votive candles.

Adding their star power to the gala evening were Chaircouples Jenny and Lee Zurik and Naomi and Larry Orlansky (all four Underwriters, as were many), whose committee included Stephanie and Keith Adler, Aimee and Steven Bain, Stacy and Steven Deitelzweig, Rebecca and Simon Finger, Diane and Alan Franco, Susan and Lou Good, Millie and Robert Kohn, Carrie and Austin Marks, Michelle and Shea Soll, Vicky and Peter Sperling, Jenna and Jon Walsh, and Randy Roig and Brian Weimer. They, in turn, thanked the seven generous donors to “Stars.”

n Eyes All!

Each year, the New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology holds a symposium in the Crescent City. For 2016, the 65th event, based at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, bore the title “Under Pressure: Updates in Glaucoma, Neuro-Ophthalmology and Cataract.”

An annual highlight is the President’s Wine and Cheese Reception and recently, 125 symposium registrants and their guests mingled at the Sheraton, for the gathering supported by The Armamentarium, a regional medical equipment company. Chatter concerned the strong number of symposium attendees (420), the 40 exhibitors, and the delights of the reception. Included were four different California wines, handcrafted artisanal cheeses, fruit, Tuscan-grilled vegetables, crawfish etouffee, Oysters Bienville, and loin of beef. Red roses and votive lights centerpieces embellished the area, along with pink and red balloons.

More “Rose” presence came from the Brent Rose Trio, which played during the lively reception as guests perused the hotel’s collection of artworks by George Rodrigue and even took to the floor to dance.

Headliners included NOAO President Dr. Marilu O’Byrne with husband Samuel “Sam” Robinson, President-elect Dr. O. Jay LaCour with Stacy, immediate past President Dr. Nancy Wagner and Thomas Boos, and Drs. Adham al Hariri (new NOAO member), Bruce Barron (treasurer), Holly Gore Groh, George Ellis, and Leslie Estrada. Also, Amber Howell, executive director of the academy.

More socializing occurred across Canal Street at Palace Café, where the 2016 speakers and program committee were feted. Dinner for 20 concluded most festively with flambéed Bananas Foster.