“And then when it’s almost ready, you put the sauce right here.” So said celebrity guest chef Martin Yan of the PBS series “Yan Can Cook” as hundreds on onlookers – both watching him live and on the two huge video screens – paid strict culinary attention. The venue was the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Riverside and the event, Chefs’ Charity for Children to benefit St. Michael Special School. “I am so excited and honored to be here with all the top chefs in New Orleans,” concluded Yan, a second generation culinarian, who was born in China and is now recognized as a popular television host from Shanghai to San Francisco.
He was part of the ensemble of “New Orleans’ most talented chefs” teamed at midday to cook, teach, entertain and serve up an amazing lunch. After the demonstrations, guests partook of the dishes. Gathered were chefs Andrea Apuzzo, John Besh, 93-year-old Leah Chase (who, when introduced by master of ceremonies Eric Paulsen, got a standing ovation), Justin Devillier, John Folse, Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link, Tory McPhail, Greg Reggio, Alon Shaya, the Wong Brothers (James, Frank, John, Tommy and Joe), and emeritus chefs Goffredo Fraccaro, Gunter Preuss and David Woodward. A labor of love, the chefs give of their time and talent. All the food is either furnished or donated by the ehcfs at their expense.
The Chefs’ Charity for Children was founded by the late, legendary chef/restaurateur Warren Leruth, who partnered with the late Phil Johnson of WWL-TV, and a dozen or so of their chef friends. It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for St. Michael Special School since then, as well as culinary awareness in the Crescent City. Wives of the co-founders attending included Freida Johnson with guest Diane Vybiral, and Marie Leruth with son Larry. Recognized, too, was “event guiding light” Tony Abide, the recently retired director of catering of the Hilton Riverside, the site of CCfC for almost two decades; and Fred Holley of Republic Beverage Co., the wine donor.
Headliners included event Chairman Dominic Massa of WWL-TV, Co-Chairwomen Erin Shea-Stahnke and Nancy Colomb, and from St. Michael, principal Tish Sauerhoff and director of elementary school/event coordinator Ann Higgins. From the Ladies’ Guild came President Georgine Bienert.
In addition to the demonstrations, a special raffle, cookbook signing, a booklet with bios of the featured chefs and their recipes for the day, and a Parade of Prizes attracted the extensive audience that included in its ranks of many, many Joe Exnicios, Evelyn Preuss, Karen Schindler, and attentive grandmother Susan Hanemann with babe-in-arms Taylor.
Ticket to Fly
“Taking Flight with MCA” headlined the boarding pass-styled Save the Date for Mount Carmel Academy’s annual Spring Fling that stated “first class” for seat information. The location set the theme: the Terminal at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport. To enhance the art deco motif, Cheri Miller and Lynda Tafaro organized decorations of white and blue, and Iris Floral donated same-chromatics arrangements. Balloons added a colorful white and blue bounce.
Culinary excitement started with the offerings of Pigeon Caterers/Carnival Brands of New Orleans at the patron party. For the main merriment, more than two dozen purveyors supplied food and drink. Duly food-fueled, guests moseyed to the excitement of the four-board auction, and then the live auction with, as a top item, a five-day cruise for four on Carnival Cruise Lines. Raffles added to the fundraiser’s coffer and the band Mo Jeaux got the crowd dancing.
Reveling in this social flight of 400 attendees were gala Co-Chairwomen (called Co-Pilots) Beth Cavalero and Kelley Douglass with husband Billy; MCA President Sister Camille Anne Campbell, O. Carm., principal Beth Simno, special events coordinator Ana Belsome, auctioneer Scott Walker, and alumnae Cheryl Alleman Montelepre and Maria Mantia Naccari, who chaired the patron partying. Others on the “Spring” wing were Tommy and Peggy Loehn, Dan and Wilma Nuss, Tommy and Leanne Flick Cvitanovich, Leni and Christi Sumich, Trish and Carl Giffen, Johnny and Tracey Fisk, Frank and Suzy Donaldson, and Chuck and Diane Collier Zatarain, as well as sponsors and members of the gala’s committee, who answered to Flight Attendants.
A Brass Act
One Eyed Jacks on Toulouse Street was the site for the night when Brass Bash rallied festive forces to raise funds for Luke’s House Clinic, which was established to deliver medical and mental health services in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding. Brett Smith, Monique Labat and Alexis Ruffino acted as Bash chairmen, while eight Corporate Sponsors and auction proceeds added monetary momentum.
Crabby Jack’s and Jacques Imo’s provided the taste treats and N’awlins Johnnys, Tank and the Bangas, and Hot 8 Brass Band, the music. All that was enjoyed by the above chairing trio and Brett’s husband, Dr. Morgan Smith, as well as BB Service Award honoree the Rev. Carol W. Crawford, Luke’s House executive director Adam Bradley, Matt and Vineen Huston, Jack Merrill, Debbie Stagni, and Kirk and Mariana Williamson. Then there were Erica Washington, Allison Kupperman, Sara Lewis with Ryan Kelley, Elizabeth Kent with Austin, and Courtney Stuckwisch, BB committee cohorts, who brought on the Brass.
Around and About
Zachary Sewall Fine is called Zach. He’s also being called a 2016 Rhodes Scholar. Smiles are abounding, thanks to this prestigious scholarship from Zach, of course, and his parents, David Fine and Michelle Leblanc. He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 2011, and from Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University, in 2015. His course of study at Oxford University in England will be History of Art and Visual Culture, as well as Criminology and Criminal Justice. Zach was among 32 Americans selected this year as a Rhodes Scholar. Congratulations galore.
In New York, Orleanian brothers Miles and Alex Pincus have a floating oyster bar, Grand Banks, berthed on a historic schooner. They are planning a new oyster bar in the Crescent City (in partnership with the Ace Hotel) that is slated to open soon. As for personal news, Miles and actress/singer Julie Tolivar are engaged. She has thrilled local audiences in Tulane Summer Lyric Theater productions of “Anything Goes” and “Damn Yankees.” More congratulations.