Three recent rounds found hundreds of people flocking to the Kenner Wine & Food Event at the Chateau Golf and Country Club with offerings from generous purveyors to raise money for the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation; to Faulkner’s Birthday Party, a fundraiser salute to the famous writer by the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and held at the home of Roland and Mary von Kurnatowski on St. Charles Street (the name for the city’s most famous avenue from Canal Street to Lee Circle); and to the Uptown home of Kathryn and Phillip Lorio for the Huguenot Society of New Orleans’ 42nd annual Celebration of the Edict of Toleration. In each case, party and purpose fused.
It was a new record for attendance at the Kenner Wine & Food Event: 746 attendees. As guests approached the Chateau Golf and Country Club, they immediately eyed the outdoor decorations of small white lights in trees or tall shrub branches placed around the pool’s perimeter, as well as the LED-illuminated squares alongside and within two pools. Concerning the indoor statement, the decorations came from donor Evergreen Florist. A fountain, which centered the elaborate cheese and fruit display, had floral arrangements in the top two tiers. Blue hydrangeas, green “buttons,” and light and dark delphiniums made the flowering mark.
More than 100 different wines were available for the sampling, with thanks tapping such distributors and purveyors as Tim Todaro, Scott Howett and Wayne Cogan, who founded the event in 2011 with the location, Chateau. A tasty gamut coursed the restaurant offerings, ranging from Acme Oyster House to Zea’s with three new restaurants listed this year and delicious contributions from Chateau.
Master of ceremonies Tommy Cvitanovich did double duty. Not only did he emcee the huge event, but he also brought the famous chargrilled oysters from his Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. The bivalves created a buzz.
Notables included Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni with spouse Michelle, who also answers to general manager of the hosting location; Klara Cvitanovich with the above Tommy, her son; Lori and Michael Swanner; Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser; John “Spud” and Maureen Brennan McConnell; state Sen. Danny Martiny; Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn with his wife, Beth; and from the Kenner City Council, Maria Defrancesh and Keith Conley, both at-large.
And, Ed Ameen, Jimmy and Debbie Deal, Tommy Capella, and from the major sponsors, Scott and Peggy Kippers, Ron and Cindy Paulin, Amy Guerra and Tammy O’Shea, Ashton and Jolene Ryan, Ray and Judy Spadafora, and Ronnie Mains.
They — and about 730 others — relished the myriad features of the event, which, in addition to food and drink, included the Boogie Booth Photo Booth, entertainment by the Groovy Seven Band, and the auction, which was chaired by Teresa Bovia and raised more than $5,000 for Joey’s Hope for Hungry Children. When funds were tallied for the beneficiary, the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, the figure amounted to more than $20,000. That will certainly abet the coffers of the foundation that supports education and opportunity in the culinary arts and hospitality industry for needy kids looking to create a better life.
The cake would have been ablaze with 117 candles for William Cuthbert Faulkner, whose writing about the South won Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. Thanks to the Faulkner Society, the namesake’s natal day was hailed with due celebration at the Von Kurnatowski residence on a Sunday afternoon. Proceeds will benefit the non-profit society’s mission of, among other goals, combating illiteracy among young people with such projects as the BIG Read, providing support for similar non-profits, and “realistic assistance to developing writers with projects such as the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.”
Mint juleps, Faulkner’s preferred libation, were served early on in shiny silver julep cups, the gifts to patrons. Adding to the Sunday scenario were an open bar, brunch by Palate New Orleans (with thanks to chef Glenn Vatshell and party director Anita Vatshell, who are siblings), special desserts by hostess Mary, music by the Armand St. Martin Trio, and an auction with Elaine and Douglas Grundmeyer as the high bidders on a painting by Grayce DeNoia Bochak that will help underwrite the 2014 BIG READ project.
Bonnie Warren and Cheryl Gerber, respective author and photographer of “Historic Homes of New Orleans,” were the guests of honor. Their forthcoming “New Orleans Homes at Christmas” will feature the Von Kurnatowski home, a former commercial warehouse. For the party, Mary decked it out in autumnal array, including pumpkins, fall leaves, and mums.
Headlining the event were Faulkner Society co-founders Rosemary James and Joseph J. DeSalvo of Faulkner House Inc., and, as sponsors or sponsorial representatives, Mary and Roland Von Kurnatowski, Randy Fertel (author of the new “A Taste for Chaos: The Hidden Order of the Art of Improvisation,” to be released concurrent with the FS’s Words & Music 2014 festival), Uriel Quesada, Nancy Moss (and the Moss family), Judith “Jude” Swenson, and Joyce and Steve Wood of Nashville. Special guests included the Rev. William F. Maestri, director of the Bishop Perry Center, and Margaret LeBlanc, Project Hope.
From the party committee came scores, including Jason Berry, Angie Bowlin, Julia Cass, Jeanie Clinton, Judy Conner, Frank DeSalvo, Bryan Drude and Carlos Trujillo, Karen and Ollie Edmunds, Sally Fleming and Laurie Gibson, Alix Rico, and Tia and Jimmy Roddy. Alessandro Powell, a Tulane University student, was recognized as a volunteer and intern.
“Happy Birthday, Mr. Faulkner” was the beckoning and dozens booked the event to pay tribute to the power of the written word. As for enjoyment, the power of partying, as well.
History was to the festive fore at the Lorio home, where cocktails and lavish hors d’oeuvres welcomed the members and guests of the Huguenot Society in New Orleans. It was founded in 1973, and through its gatherings, commemorates the Edict of Toleration, which Louis XVI, King of France, issued in 1787 granting, among other freedoms, that of worship.
Marie Hasney, Fleur de Lis Caterers, provided the fine menu array (pasta, finger sandwiches, shrimp, vegetables, beet salad, and three desserts), Ben Lazich of The Wine Seller supervised the beverages, and Jeffrey Pounds entertained at the piano.
Among the notables were society President John Beaumont, who welcomed everyone and recognized important guests Lt. Gen. Richard Mills (with Pat) , commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, and Col. Brad Weisz, chief of staff for Marine Forces North. He then expressed gratitude to Kathryn and Philip Lorio for their hospitality.
Jack Hinrichs, Waid Thompson, Susan Gray, Dan and Marie Summitt, Armin and Karen Schubert, Ed and Cindy Bush, Mike and Joan Berger, Marie McLellan, Richard and Mary McConnell, Dave Grissett, Ben Foster, Tony and Ann Fuselier, John and Bonnie Boyd, Jacqueline Gamble and dozens more savored the meeting and greeting. They also complimented the host couple, who are the subjects of two handsome portraits that are now hanging in their home.