When Cancer Services merged with Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center earlier this year, it created a fundraising quandary. Each was well-known for two of the city’s longest-running culinary events — Capital Chefs Showcase and The Taste. Which one would survive?

The answer is neither. The powers that be re-invented them into a themed affair that begged for guests to come in costume.

‘The Gala Goes Gatsby’

A huge crowd of flapper girls and dapper gents filled the L’Auberge Event Center on Sept. 13 for the new event, this year themed “The Gala Goes Gatsby.” From the decorations to the delicious food dished up by some of the city’s top restaurants and caterers, to the classic Roaring '20s cocktails and music by Ned Fasullo & The Fabulous Big Band Orchestra it was a spectacular party. Kudos to co-chairwomen Katie Goodson and Rebecca Harrod.

Also spectacular was the impressive $100,000-plus raised in the night’s live auction — thanks in no small part to LSU Baseball coach Paul Mainieri, chef Jay Ducote and auctioneer Brian Fourroux. They even persuaded Acadian House Kitchen & Bath to donate a second custom playhouse, bringing in a quick $10,000. One of the hottest items was the LSU vs. Alabama Game Day Experience, which went for $8,000.

About a thousand guests attended the gala, and I enjoyed getting to visit with Donna Saurage, Gail and Bill O’Quin, Marvin Borgmeyer, Leslie and Scott Berg, Renae Duffin, Sharon Pol, Cathy Sherburn, Janice Guitreau, Carmen Williams, Tammy Dufrene, Pat and J.H. Martin, Frances Bennett, Peggy and Robert Wooley, Beth and Steve Tope, Shelia and Todd Sterling, Nancy and Paul Stitch, Jill Roshto, Suzanne Sexton, Terrie Sterling, Coletta Bartlett, Susan and Richard Lipsey, Eric Lane, Michelle Hardy, Paul and Karen Mainieri, Jim Voitier and the Guercio girls — Ann, Merritt and Mimi.

Providing the night’s culinary fare were 18 Steak, Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Batch 13 Biscuits & Bowls, Beausoleil Restaurant & Bar, Bergeron’s City Market/Chef Don Bergeron Catering, Caliente Mexican Craving, Cecelia Creole Bistro, Chef Charles House of Creations, City Port Brasserie & Bar, Bud Light, Culinary Productions, Drusilla Seafood/Drusilla Place Catering, Juban’s Restaurant & Catering, Mansurs on the Boulevard, Mary Aycock, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Red Stick Spice Co., Southfin Southern Poké, Tallulah Crafted Food & Wine Bar, The Gregory, Unique Cuisine, Wanda & Phil Cakins and Zorba’s Greek Bistro.

Opéra Louisiane

“Baritones on the Bayou” was the theme for Opéra Louisiane’s season opener on the night of Sept. 14 at the Manship Theatre. Prior to the performance, everyone celebrated at the pre-concert reception, where Executive Director Leanne Clement had everyone raise their glass in a Champagne toast. Among those clinking flutes were Deborah Todd, Barbara and Camp Matens, Eric and Kim Thomas, Bettsie Miller, Kathy Baker, Jerry Fischer, John Jackson and twin Jim Jackson, Dr. Warren Fraser, Cordell Haymon, Diane Guidry, Thomas Teilhard, Leonard Augustus and Stafford Wood.

Leonard, Stafford and I got called up onstage right before the performance to be introduced by Jesse Gunkle and Clement as participants in Opéra Louisiane’s Sing & Swing celebrity karaoke event, coming in January. Two more lucky contestants will soon be chosen; I can’t wait to find out who they are.

Queen’s Luncheon

The fabulous home of Lee and Bubby Lewis was the setting for a fabulous luncheon hosted on Sept. 15 by Queen Artemis XVIII Dr. Elise Lalonde to fête her royal court, krewe board members, friends and family. It was a hot day but Mother Nature cooperated by holding off the rain until after the party and allowing us the chance to wander in the magnificent gardens.

Aside from her king, Dr. Jake Henderson; husband and King Artemis XVI, Dr. Jimmy Lalonde; and krewe Captain Joanne Harvey it was nice to see and chat with former queens Cheryl Bourg, Cheryl Callerame, Abby Hamilton and Melanie Uzee; Marci Blaize, daughter Abby, who’s on the court, and mom Joy Hammett; Marilyn Price; and board members Toni Chenevert and Leigh Davis.

Symphony League

Nicole DeMoss opened her lovely home Sept. 11 for the Baton Rouge Symphony League’s Guest Day Champagne Brunch. President Edy Koonce and the hostess greeted guests, who included Jan Attinger, Jan Wells, Meredith Crake, Betty Schwartzberg, BeBe Facundus, Many Jane Dillenberger, Alice Kronenberger, Diane Guidry, Martha Bienvenue, Meredith Hawthorne and JoAnn Landreneaux, who was accompanied by her daughter.

Koonce began a short meeting by sharing news of the unexpected death a few days earlier of BRSO board chairwoman Mae Belton. After a moment of silence, she introduced long-time league member Sue Rainer as honorary chairwoman for the 2019 Mad Hatter’s Luncheon. Nicole is the chairwoman and announced the theme — “Symphony of the Sea.” Maestro Timothy Muffitt thanked the league for its unwavering support of the orchestra and gave a rundown on its 2018-2019 Masterworks Series.

Museum honors

The week started off at the Louisiana Association of Museums awards luncheon and annual conference Sept. 10 at the Old State Capitol. Taking home the award for Museum of the Year was the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, which celebrated its first anniversary a couple of weeks ago. It was one of eight awards presented after the keynote address by Nicole Ivy, director of inclusion for the American Alliance of Museums in Washington, D.C.

Garrett C. Lynch received the Lois Wyatt Bannon Heart & Soul Service Award for his volunteer efforts at the USS Kidd Museum and local architect Kevin Harris received the Elizabeth McLundie Bolton Award for his long-term commitment and support of Louisiana museums.

The Louisiana Museum Career Professional Award (15 or more years of service) went to Carol Gikas, longtime executive director for the Louisiana Art & Science Museum; the award for 1-15 years of service went to Bill Stark, former director of the Capitol Park Museum and current assistant director of LSU’s Rural Life Museum. Kyle Neff, administrative coordinator at the Capitol Park Museum, received the Emerging Louisiana Museum Professional Award.

This year’s Media Support Award went to Country Roads Magazine and the Outstanding Corporate Support Award went to the BASF Corp. Riley Berthelot, West Baton Rouge Parish president, was recognized as the Public Official of the Year.

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.