Tastes of the Town

The Bounty of Blindfolds

After general socializing at La Petite Grocery, guests sat, surveyed their environs and then donned blindfolds. Once again, A Blind Taste unfolded presented by WRBH, which used the event as a fundraiser to support programming on WRBH, the only reading radio service to operate on the FM dial in the United States. Angela Hill, who was joined by husband Dr. Irwin Marcus, chaired the fundraiser. They were also sponsors. She donned another figurative hat as auctioneer, serving along with Charles Smith, who was joined by wife Emily.

Guests donned blindfolds during dinner to heighten their sense of taste and to discover the unique flavors of the evening’s five-course dinner with wine pairings created by the James Beard Award-winning Chef Justin Devillier, of La Petite Grocery. Blindfolded, diners gained awareness of some of the challenges that the radio station’s listeners experience on a daily basis. Proceeds from A Blind Taste, as the annual dinner is called, are used to support programming on WRBH.

Guests swooned over the attractions of the menu. The first course was rabbit terrine and the second, roasted squash soup with ricotta ravioli. The respective third, fourth and fifth courses were pan-roasted scallop, roasted lamb loin and rose mascarpone parfait. The above Justin Devillier answers to chef-proprietor of the Magazine Street restaurant, and his wife, Mia Devillier, to “G.M.-Proprietor.”

Centering the tables were impressive arrangements of red Peruvian lilies, burnt orange sunflowers and white poms.

Notables included Catherine Burns Tremaine and Shirley Trusty Corey, who were also sponsors; WRBH board member Lindsey Wands of sponsor Hancock Whitney and husband Wayne; Matt Berger from sponsor Humana, as was Scott Westbrook; and Natalia Gonzalez, executive director of WRBH. Others, all generous and sponsoring, were Daniel Meyer and Jennifer Barriere, Buddy Henricks, Kristin Taulli, Jayne Weiss, John and Deborah Roche, Jennifer Babineaux of Southern Eye Bank, Kaye and Jerry Smith, Geoff Worden of Purveyor of Fine Wines, and guest speaker and WRBH volunteer reader Charlotte Travieso. In her speech, she spoke about her longtime affiliation with WRBH and what it means to the community.

This year, an online-only silent auction was a prominent feature, running for two weeks leading up to A Blind Taste. Plus there was a raffle for a Jose Balli silver necklace donated by the above Smiths, and won by attendee and WRBH volunteer reader Liz Gober.

Smiling as auction winners were WRBH board member Paul Leaman, Saints & Pelican package; Cary Palmer, framed print by Alabama folk artist Butch Anthony; Deborah and John Roche, “His & Hers Afternoon” package; Emily Smith, New Orleans Athletic Club membership; and a threesome in Kaye Smith, Sue Westphal and Sue McCormick, a cocktail party at La Petite Grocery for 25 people donated by the Devilliers.

Cary Palmer will also be packing his bags for his “win” in the auction. Donated by WRBH board member Martine Boyer, it’s for five nights and six days in a full-size apartment in Paris. Bon voyage!

The Bounty of Business

The 39th annual Tulane Business Forum of the Tulane Association of Business Alumni, which had The New Orleans Advocate as Presenting Media Sponsor, Entergy as Presenting Sponsor, and Capital One and UnitedHealthcare as forum underwriters, held the forum reception of the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex, Marshall Family Commons. The reception underwriters were Galatoire’s Restaurant, Sazerac Company, Crescent Crown Distributing, Abita Beer & Event Producers. Special features were catering by Galatoire’s, Wheatley Vodka & Strawberry Lemonade as the specialty drink, and floral arrangements of hydrangeas and greenery by Mitch’s Flowers. The buffet arrangements were in fall tones.

Notables, who gathered for the “Digital Transformation: Strategy to Execution”-themed event and socialized at the gathering, included Stephanie Kleehammer and Mark Preston, who co-chaired the forum; Tom Ambrose, Elizabeth Boh, Louis David, Aimee Freeman, Nene Gianfala, David Kearney, Anne Teague Landis and Craig Sanders, the sponsor team chairing force; Tulane University President Mike Fitts; forum coordinator Jennifer McCausland with husband Patrick; and a brace of keynote speakers, respectively for the luncheon and morning, in Leo P. Denault, chairman and CEO, Entergy Corporation, and Joseph Ochipinti, CEO, UnitedHealthcare — Gulf States Region.

At approximately 7:10 p.m., A.B. School of Business Dean Ira Solomon welcomed everyone, followed by remarks regarding the forum and its speakers, sponsors and supporters by Mark Preston, vice president of the Tulane Association of Business Alumni and co-chairman of the Tulane Business Forum. Further notables — and all with titles — were Melvin Rodrigue, Ryan Quick, Brian Banks, Scott Cunningham, David Kearney, Thomas Spiers, David Rieveschl and Caleb Roberts. Add to those names Jimmy Maxwell on keyboard and Mike Loupe on clarinet, who went about the business of music making.

Laurels for 'Laurel'

Guests trekked to an exhibition opening for a reception that was held at the Southeastern Architectural Archive in Tulane’s Jones Hall on the Uptown campus for “The Laurel Valley Plantation Photographs of Philip M. Denman.” It unfolded in the Southeastern Architectural Archive. Of course, the man of the hour was Covington photographer Philip Denman.

Milling, too, as they sipped sparkling wine and nibbled taste treats from Martin Wine Cellar, were past Louisiana Landmarks Society presidents and Harnett Kane Award recipients John Geiser and David Campbell, who remarked on the “talent we have in Louisiana, as well as the architectural inventory for artists to work with”; internationally noted photographer and architectural historian William Brumfield; past Louisiana Historical Society Presidents Sally and Bill Reeves; and James Robichaux, who represented Laurel Valley Plantation. Louisiana sunflowers and greenery added nice accents.

Noted as well were Tulane Libraries dean David Banush, new Special Collections director Jillian Cuellar, head of the Louisiana Research Collection Lee Miller, archivist and exhibition curator Kevin Williams, Master of Preservation Studies director John Stubbs, Olivia Philipp, Debbie Marx, Katheryn Warzak, Sean Knowlton, Courtney Kearney, Melissa Smith, Ruth Thompson, Andrew Mullins, Lisa Hooper, Jessica and Lanaux Rareshide, Althea Topek, Melissa Smith and Lori Schexnayder. All were in awe of Denman’s evocative photographs of Laurel Valley Plantation over a nearly 40-year period. The chance to chat with him was a real bonus.