Dine and wine times three! On a recent Friday, the Krewe of Cork amassed its merrymakers to Restaurant August for the monthly lunchfest, while hours later the Archdiocese of New Orleans Retreat Center held its second annual Wine & Dine at Chateau Golf and Country Club. “An Evening with Chef John Folse” billed the event that included, other than gustatory pleasures, a raffle and silent and live auctions.

Dinner Lab, a prandial phenomenon, rounded up its members the next week at the Academy of the Sacred Heart’s Assembly Room to showcase up-and-coming culinary talent. Chef Stephen McCary was the name to note.

Cork Krewe

“T.G.I.C.D.” is the meal motto for the Krewe of Cork, which was founded in 2001 and has grown into a joyful Carnival and wine-appreciation entity. According to the king-for-life, Patrick van Hoorebeek, “We celebrate Wine! Food! Fun!” Parades, too.

The above initials stand for “Thank Goodness It’s Cork Day,” which heralds the monthly meal, each time at a different restaurant. Just over 100 members gathered in August at August for the luncheon, where Truvee Red Blend and Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast were the vinous choices.

The sartorial ones were linen and other summer selections. It was hot!

All former queens, that’s seven of the last 15, were introduced at the luncheon. The current monarch, queen Jeffrey McIlwain, gave everyone Saints beads to celebrate the opening of the season. Eagerly awaited will be the 2016 royal successor, whose name will be announced during the October luncheon.

Angelie Alciatore, Kelli Bingham, Bud and Christel DeCoste, Christie and Al Gardes, Doug Vaughn and daughter Kelly, Tom and Laura Symmes, 2011 queen Yvette DeBlanc and husband Francis, 2003 queen Debbie Gagne and Ron, Tom Trubiano, 2002 queen Margarita Bergen (who hosts her own Round Table Club Luncheon each month at Antoine’s), krewe lieutenant Richard Hoener, and Ronnie Laporte, another lieutenant, joined Cork captain Bill Trufant to break bread and spread bonhomie.

So did king Patrick, royal coordinator and 2007 queen Gillian Pierce and husband/krewe lieutenant Greg, her majesty of 2015 the above Jeffrey (who designed and made the king’s first cape and crown), and royal predecessors Allyson Cabes (2013) with fiancé/lieutenant Walt Navoy, Melanie Tallia (2009) and Amy Borrell (2014).

Chef John Besh is the bannered name at August, where the luncheon menu for the Cork camaraderie consisted of heirloom tomato salad, shrimp and corn soup, black pepper strozzapreti (a pasta) and lamb sausage, and whipped white chocolate and ginger cake.

More food and wine will fortify the krewe members, who’ll take to the Vieux Carre for a foot parade on Jan. 29 before Mardi Gras 2016, and later, during the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience’s Royal Street Stroll, where they are right at home with palate pleasures.

Folse Feast

As guests entered Chateau Golf and Country Club for “Wine & Dine: An Evening with Chef John Folse,” they were readily proffered glasses of champagne and canapes prepared by the touted “toque.” They also milled about, perusing the silent auction tables and purchasing raffle tickets for three prize baskets. Dinner was served at 7:30 p.m.

The dining tables were decorated with lighted wine bottles, mirrored tiles and votive candles for a serene theme. Sisters-in-law Barbara Collura and Pauline Colomb (attending with husband David) were credited for the lovely look.

Executive director of the Retreat Center Dr. Paul “Buddy” Ceasar (with Barbara) opened the formalities with words of welcome and acknowledgement. Then came Archbishop Emeritus Alfred C. Hughes for the invocation and blessing and, for special remarks and a personal welcome, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond. Chef Folse presented the menu, a classic French dinner for “Sunday company,” which had often followed High Mass. Lobster truffle bisque, Cenacle Salad, Creole daube of beef, and a chocolate and lemon doberge dessert thrilled the assembly, who heard closing comments by Dr. Ceasar and the benediction by Bishop Fernand J. Cheri III, auxiliary bishop of New Orleans.

Kathy Chenevert (with Jimmy) and Suzanne Myers, prize chairwomen, tended to the auction and raffle check out. Among the silent auction’s many enticements were art, sports memorabilia, Super Bowl tickets 2016, jewelry and a “Cake of the Month” certificate from Jean-Luc Albin of Maurice French Pastries. Kerri and Karen Nichols, along with Rosa Dunn, won the raffle baskets. For the live auction excitement, none other than the chef stepped forward as his own auctioneer with an offering to diet for: “Dinner for 12 Prepared by Chef John Folse” at either the home of the purchaser, White Oak Plantation, or Restaurant R’evolution. The highest bidders for it – $7,000 each – were Henry and Pat Shane and Joe and Rae Dempsey. With two couples contending, two dinners were then offered.

Yet another attraction was the music by pianist Dr. Vasil Cvetkov, a lecturer of music at Southeastern Louisiana University. A noteworthy surprise occurred when former Dameans, the above Paul Ceasar, Gary Ault, Darryl Ducote and Mike Balhoff, performed selections from their singing days.

More than 200 people made “Wine & Dine” their outing and form of altruism. Topping the roster were a trio of event chairwomen in Linda Sunseri (with Frank), Cathie Crochet (with Richard) and Susan “Suzi” Glennon. “Everyone was very impressed,” said Suzi, who continued saying the Retreat Center, which is now owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, needed a “signature (fundraising) event.” Finding one in “Wine & Dine,” she added that chef Folse was very generous and Archbishop Aymond (who came to the dinner directly from his vacation) was most supportive.

Others breaking bread were “Faith” sponsors: The Catholic Foundation (represented by Charlie Heim with Barbara), Bob Menard with committee member June, and the above Shanes. From the committee came Ann Babington, Charlene Broussard, Mary Lee Burke, the above Kathy Chenevert, raffle winner Rosa Dunn with Dr. Mike, Virginia Eckholdt with John, Mary Furlow, Barbara Gaiennie, Mary Langlois, Marguerite Lewis with Jim (underwriters of the event), the above June Menard and Suzanne Myers, Julie Poitevent with Edward, and Julie’s mother, Cherie Schneider with Dr. George.

Also, the Revs. Beau Charbonnet, David Allen and Warren Cooper. And, Mayor Mike Yenni with spouse Michelle Swanner Yenni (Chateau general manager), Dr. Judy Miranti, Dr. Buck and Yvonne Landry, Ray (Paul’s brother) and Marian Ceasar, Carolyn and Earl Weiser, and, from Baton Rouge, Kathy Screen, Ruthie Ann Bullock and pals, who, in October, will be hosting their own event to benefit the Retreat Center.

Eat Treats

Dinner Lab, “a members-only supper club that connects adventurous diners with rising star chefs for unique rogue pop-up dining experiences across the country,” was launched in 2012 as a national social dining experiment. A very recent one in the Crescent City announced, at the last minute (as it always does) the location: the Assembly Room at Sacred Heart Academy. There were two seatings.

Bombay Sapphire Gin partnered with DL. As such, two chef Stephen McCary-designed cocktails were created: Sweet Uncle Earl and Summer Gimlet. (Very tasty, several people continued them through dinner.) Steven Yamada tended the bar. The wine-paired menu of five courses started with smoked swordfish, and moved on to a local melon mélange, ancho-grilled Grand Isle shrimp, St. Louis pork rib and anise spice cake.

Prior to dining, Sacred Heart’s Caroline Avegno greeted guests and told them about the school and its national and international profile. Also from Sacred Heart was Jana Fogleman, community outreach coordinator. On the stage was the cooking apparatus, led by McCary, chef de cuisine, Dinner Lab New Orleans. Jillian Lochriccio is the event manager and Mario Rodriguez and Brett Jones, are, in turn culinary director and culinary operations manager.

Joining in the Lab levity were Dr. Lock and Lori Ochsner with Mike Fitzpatrick and Stephanie Freyman, and, at another table, Allison Briede and fiancé Marc Badon and Courtney Echols and her fiancé, Austin Boudreaux. Both couples will have 2016 weddings, respectively March and May, and exchange vows in the school’s chapel.

Also dining were Ford Hardy, Sandy Cosby, Larry and Rachel Mann, Tara Tolford, Andrew Marin, Karen Calamia, Sondra Brown, Morgan Clark, Helen Williams, Amy and Bobby DiMarco and Grace Lucas.

“Gulf Pride: Southern Coastal Cuisine” themed the feasting.