I hope you and yours survived Hurricane Barry, who didn’t quite live up to his billing and for that we’re all grateful. He did, however, cramp our social scene a bit.
There can’t be anything more disheartening than having to miss a party thrown in your honor, so attendees to the Baton Rouge Epicurean Society’s 13th annual Fête Rouge Grace ‘Mama’ Marino Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner were all hoping Charlie Valluzzo could feel the love and respect that filled the Renaissance Hotel ballroom on July 11.
The man of the hour was still in Houston recovering for ankle replacement surgery, but he was well-represented by his sons and their wives, Patrick and Rebecca and Chris and Krista Valluzzo.
When you think epicurean, you might not think of a Big Mac with fries. But few businesses are as community engaged as Valluzzo and his Baton Rouge-area McDonald’s have been, and that plays a big part in selecting each year’s award recipient.
On a personal level, Charlie devoted thousands of hours along with his money to Alzheimer’s Services. Executive Director Barbara Auten shared Charlie stories via a short video, including the creation of Charlie’s Place Activity & Respite Center, which is named for Valluzzo, Charlie Lamar and the late Charlie Spera. Other organizations to benefit from Valluzzo’s involvement include the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Baton Rouge Rotary Club, Wilbur Marvin Foundation, Salvation Army, YMCA, St. Joseph Cathedral, Catholic High School and Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, in particular the soon-to-open, free-standing Children’s Hospital.
Aside from the BRES award, Valluzzo also got the key to the city from Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. As she presented the key to Patrick, she spoke of the senior Valluzzo’s love for Baton Rouge and how he always steps up when needed. Patrick relayed his dad’s thanks for the honor, which put him in the company of culinary greats such as “Mama” Marino, the late T.J. Moran, the late Frank Bologna, the late Charles Brandt, John Folse, the late Tullio Saffiotti, the late Vince Ferachi, Jay Campbell, Bobby Yarborough, Holly Clegg, Tommy Simmons and the late Ben Kleinpeter.
The elegant evening of food and wine got underway with passed hors d’oeuvres created by chef Drue Vitter, of the Renaissance, paired with Charles Sparr Cremont Champagne before the sold-out crowd headed to their beautifully set tables. BRES President Brian Dykes and emcee Clay Young welcomed everyone before turning the mic over to the Rev. Miles Walsh.
The dinner began with Louisiana Forest Floor Toast prepared by chef Scott Varnedoe, of Juban’s Restaurant, paired with 2016 J. Moreau & Fils Vouvrary, a crisp chenin blanc. That was followed by a Cauliflower Volute soup prepared by chef Daniel Santana, of Bin 77 Bistro & Sidecar, paired with the 2017 Joseph Drouhin Mâcon-Bussières Les Clos Chardonnay.
The fish course, prepared by lead chef Jeremy Langlois, of Houmas House, featured a Zapp’s Potato Chip crusted fillet of grouper. It was paired with Markham’s 2015 pinot noir. Mansurs on the Boulevard chef Chris Motto, fresh from Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” challenge, took care of the meat course, serving up “Lamb Lollipops.” The 2015 Justin Isosceles perfectly paired with this course. Chef Lauren Silvernail, of Bergeron’s City Market, handled the night’s dessert — a divine salted caramel cheesecake.
If you missed this fantastic evening, you can still get tickets for the BRES Food & Wine Fête, which will be held Aug. 23 at the L’Auberge Event Center. Tickets are at bresbr.org.
On July 10, I joined a fun group of women at the City Club for its Women of the City After Hours Wine Tasting. Chef Eric Brandt and staff put out quite the tempting spread, and Jim Albert poured some delicious wines. It proved to be a perfect practice session for the BRES dinner.
While normally we would have all been talking food and wine, Big Bad Barry was the predominant topic of conversation.
The Manship Theatre hosted its 2019-2020 Season Soirée on July 9. Attendees got a sneak peek at what’s in store and the first chance to purchase tickets.
While films and other events make up the season, it also offers intimate musical performances sure to make many memories. The season opens Sept. 9 with Grammy Award-winner Keb’ Mo,’ a “musical force that defies typical genre labels.” That’s followed on Sept. 18 by “Tapestry — The Story of Carol King.”
October brings the multimedia show Harlem 100 to town in a homage to the greats that played the Apollo Theatre, Cotton Club and other celebrated venues of the Harlem Renaissance; Ballet X, a collaboration with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre; and Pablo Sáinz Villegas, “the soul of the Spanish guitar.”
December kicks off with the Doo Wop Project-Holiday Show, followed by the Gatlin Brothers Country & Christmas Tour. February celebrates “A Capella Live,” conceived and arranged by Deke Sharon, vocal producer of "Pitch Perfect" and "The Sing-Off."
March has the beat, as the internationally acclaimed percussion artists Drum Tao showcase the ancient art of Japanese drumming. The season wraps up in May with the Allman/Betts Band, which features the sons of the late Gregg Allman (Devon Allman) and Dickie Betts (Duane Betts), who will showcase their own works and the music that made the Allman Brothers in honor of the 50th anniversary of the group’s debut album, "The Allman Brothers."
For tickets and more information, go to manshiptheatre.org.