Sold-Out And Grovel Alerts!: 8th Annual Celebrity Chef

Katherine Krause (File photo)

VNA President/CEO Katherine Krause will be spending her birthday celebrating all day on Wednesday, February 28. It seems that the staff once again scheduled VNA’s 8th Annual Celebrity Chef fundraiser at VNA Haggerty Center on her natal day.

The evening event is already sold out and the lunchtime is just seats away from the same status.

Ted and Bess Enloe (File photo)

There are so many reasons why it’s on the verge of being a done deal. In addition to having Mary Frances Bellman and CiCi Weinmann co-chairing the two-in-one day fundraisers, they’ve arranged to have Bess and Ted Enloe as honorary co-chairs.

Still another reason for the swift sell-out and almost sold-out is the featured chefs, who will be doing a cooking demonstration and orchestrating the meals. Yes, it will be a twosome — the husband/wife team of Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza.  

In addition to their recently released “State Bird Provisions” cookbook and industry recognition by the James Beard Foundation and Bon Appétit to mention a couple, they own two of San Francisco’s top restaurants — Michelin-starred State Bird Provisions and The Progress in San Francisco.

Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza*

While Stuart honed his cooking skills working for Chicago’s Chef John Hogan at Savarin, Nicole’s specialized in pastry and baking skills under Chicago Chef Nancy Carey at the Red Hen Bakery.

These meals are always fun and eye-opening for the professional chef and the Hello Fresh novice.

Funds raised from the lunching and dining will support VNA’s Meals on Wheels and Charitable Hospice Care programs.

* Photo credit: Ed Anderson

Dallas Cowboys War Room At The Star Was The Scene Of Chef Tiffany Derry Serving Up KidLinks’ Symphony Of Chefs Draft

Jerry Jones‘ legendary War Room at Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters was the location for another big draft on Tuesday, January 23. It was the site of KidLinksSymphony of Chefs pick chefs for the annual fundraiser that will be held on Monday, February 26 at Sixty Five Hundred. Here’s a report from the field:

When your chef selection is set to be conducted draft style, what better location than the state-of-the-art War Room at the newly opened Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, The Star, to conduct it in. And that’s exactly what happened on the evening of Tuesday, January 23, as VIP sponsors and patrons gathered for a private party to select their table chefs for the 8th Annual Symphony of Chefs benefiting KidLinks. 

Tiffany Derry*

Hosted by The Dallas Cowboys And Legends Hospitality, the 2018 VIP Patron And Chef Selection party paid homage to the upcoming draft that Jerry Jones and his team will soon be conducting for the fall football season. But this time Tiffany Derry from Bravo TV “Top Chef All-Stars and Top Chef Junior” fame led the charge in conducting a 23 table and chef selection event.

As guests including Ann and J.W. Brown, Aimee and Adam Hall, Mike Dollar and wife Karen and Founding Event Co-Chairs Bonnie and Nathan Shea began to gather in the stunning grand atrium of The Star for VIP guided tours, they were immediately enamored by the dancing LED sculpture by artist Leo Villareal taking selfies and Instagram videos for their social media followers to see. 

John Kleifgen and UnoImmanivong*

Following the early tour that lasted about 45 minutes and still didn’t cover all of the history, memorabilia and art in the building guests made their way to The Training Table event space for much needed cocktails featuring Tequila Sheela and J.R. Ewing Bourbon. They were greeted with passed appetizers by Executive Chef Orazio Lamana that even included two select Whole30 items for those guests partaking in the health-craze sweeping the nation. As more guests and chefs arrived including Fitzgerald Dodd, former The Cedar’s Social executive chef now turned private chef Justin Box, Anastacia Quiñones of Oddfellows and Nick And Sam’s Steakhouse newest executive chef John Kleifgen, you could tell everyone was anxious to be selected but eager to get the evening started.  A preview booklet of each chefs menu floated around the room from guest to guest and you could hear the chatter from table hosts about who they might select and which menus sounded the most enticing.

Diana Crawford*

Just before the program began, the queen of steaks as she’s called, Dee Lincoln and her executive chef T.J. Lengnick left a packed restaurant and walked over from her namesake Dee Lincoln Prime to join in the evening’s fun. Following a few words of welcome, a story about a recent KidLinks client family by CEO Diana Crawford, some praises given to the many sponsors in the room and recognition of the 29 participating chefs that give of their time and talents, it was now time for the draft! Yet sponsors had no clue what was about to happen.

Grand Atrium*

As they were guided through the building, up a set of marble stairs and down a short hallway, the sponsors soon found out that they were headed to the infamous War Room. A place where lives are changed forever when they get “the call”, the War Room was set-up for each sponsor representative to pick who would be cooking on Monday, February 26, at Sixty Five Hundred for their table of 10 guests. With chef pictures on one side and sponsor names on the other, the interactive video wall that covered the entire front wall was set-up for a selection experience that sponsors would soon not forget. The fun was just beginning. Meanwhile, a live video feed soon appeared on the screens where the remaining guests and chefs in the event space could see and hear everything going on in the room where it happens. 

Draft in the War Room*

Soon after explaining how the draft would be handled, a rousing banter among chefs, guests and sponsors commenced. There were even financial challenges and draft seats being given up raising an extra $5K+ on the spot for the charity. With the first draft pick being “purchased” by Honorary Chair Faye C. Briggs’ son, Mike Montgomery (who also happens to be serving as Event Chair with his wife Vinette Montgomery), the first chef selected was celebrity chef Ken Patrick best known for his appearance on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. The draft continued with selections including Tre Wilcox, Gorji from Canary by Gorji, Joanne Bondy from Stocks and Bondy plus 20 plus other featured dinner chefs until all chefs were selected.

Georgia and Marc Lyons and Vinette and Mike Montgomery*

As the evening came to an end, it was clear that Vinette and Mike along with their Co-Chairs Georgia and Marc Lyons had scored a touchdown with the VIP Patron party. Talks about how to top it next year were well under way, but until the 26th of February comes and goes the focus was on selling two more additional tables. So the event chairs work wasn’t done yet and table hosts had some work to do by figuring out whom they wouldn’t be inviting to dine with them in February.

For more information about KidLinks and the Symphony of Chefs evening of culinary composition event and the participating chefs visit www.thekidlinks.org./soc.html.

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s “Farewell Founder’s Luncheon” Honorees And Supporters Celebrated Overlooking Downtown Dallas

The Dallas skyline was the backdrop and an enchantingly beautiful center-of-room Christmas tree was the centerpiece for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Farewell Founder’s Luncheon Honoree Reception December 5. In addition to Honorary Luncheon Co-Chairs Lucy Billingsley and Doug Curtis, Co-Hosts hosts Joleen and Jim Chambers welcomed DBDT Founder Ann Williams, luncheon honorees Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, as well as DBDT Board members Gilbert Gerst, Georgia Scaife, Mark Cooks, Petre White, Paulette Turner and JeAnna Parker. Here’s a report from the field:

From the left: (seated) Gilbert Gerst, Georgia Scaife, Ann Williams and Joleen Chambers; (seated) Mark Cooks, Petre White, Linda Todd, Paulette Turner, Herdercine Nash and JeAnna Parker**

Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) patrons gathered in the home of Joleen and Jim Chambers to be the first to honor three longtime supporters of the 41-year-old dance company. DBDT Founder Ann M. Williams announced the final Founder’s Luncheon would pay tribute to Andy McCarthy, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd, three outstanding North Texans who have substantially supported the organization. Herdercine Nash has been a DBDT board member since 1988 and helped launch the luncheon 22 years ago as a fundraiser for the organization. Andy McCarthy has been a supporter for over 25 years, serving on the Board during the 1990s and recently giving a leadership gift to support a resident choreographer. Linda Todd has been a Board member for more than two decades and supported the renovation of DBDT’s home, the Historic Moorland YMCA Building, by underwriting the elevator installation.

Christmas decorations*

Between the twinkling lights of the Dallas skyline and the Christmas tree, it was the perfect setting for the honoree reception during the holidays. A brisk northerly wind did not stop some guests from stepping out on the balcony to take in the breathtaking view of downtown Dallas and the Dallas Arts District.

Andy McCarthy, Michelle Thomas, Herdercine Nash and Linda Todd*

DBDT supporters started the luncheon 22 years ago as a way to honor Founder Ann Williams, while supporting what is now the oldest continuously operating dance company in Dallas. The luncheon will highlight the legacy and extraordinary service of Ms. Williams to Dallas and the field of dance. Ms. Williams thanked attendees for the various ways they had supported Dallas Black Dance Theatre over four decades. She also thanked Michelle R. Thomas, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations for JPMorgan Chase, for the bank’s eighth consecutive year as a presenting sponsor and Gilbert Gerst, Senior Vice President of Community Development Lending and Investments for Bank of Texas, for the bank sponsorship of the honoree reception.

Doug Curtis, Lucy Billingsley and Ann Williams**

Seen chatting at the reception, longtime DBDT and facility partners Doug Curtis of AT&T Performing Arts Center and Lucy Billingsley of the Billingsley Company, who are serving as honorary co-chairs, as well as Rev. Lelious Johnson and Kimberley Runnels, the luncheon General Chairs. Fox 4 News Anchor Clarice Tinsley will preside as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Lelious Johnson and Kimberly Runnels**

Chef Carlos Whitfield served up his unique twist of hors d’oeuvres. There was the spicy Shrimp Cocktail Mazatlan that Chef Carlos describes as a fusion dish with influence from Italy, Spain and Mexico. Cucumbers complemented the combination, neutralizing the heat of chili peppers. Chef Carlos also created a decadent dish featuring roasted salmon topped with cured salmon. Herbs and veggies were folded into beef meatballs that had a holiday flavor combining cranberry glaze and barbeque sauce.

Chef Carlos Whitfield hors d’oeuvres*

If you would like more information on how to sponsor or purchase a luncheon table on Wednesday January 17, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, contact [email protected].

* Photo credit: Maegan Hoffman 
** Photo credit: Derrick Waiters

MLK Jr. Day Closings And Openings And An Opportunity To Serve

Monday will be the official Martin Luther King Jr. Day that will results in rethinking of what’s open for business. Here is a brief list of organizations that will be closed:

  • Banks
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Libraries
  • City of Dallas offices
  • Dallas County offices
  • Dallas Independent School District
  • Greenhill School
  • Highland Park Independent School District
  • Jesuit Dallas
  • Plano Independent School District
  • Richardson Independent School District
  • SMU
  • State of Texas offices
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • Ursuline School

Perot Museum of Nature and Science*

But what will be wide open and greeting you with open arms? The Dallas Zoo and the Dallas Arboretum are both offering their special pricing. But it might be rainy. Then what about a museum visit? Alas, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center are following their standard operating procedures of being closed on Mondays. But never fear! The Perot Museum will be wide open.

VNA**

And if volunteering is more to your liking, consider VNA Meals on Wheels. They’re expecting more than 600 volunteers to take over 350 routes starting at 10 a.m. to provide more than “4,700 homebound, hungry seniors” with chicken fajita taco, fiesta rice, refried beans, fudge cream cookie and milk.

* Graphic courtesy 
of Perot Museum Of Nature And Science 
** Graphic courtesy of VNA

North Texas Food Bank’s Empty Bowls Is Moving To New Digs In March

Change is afoot at the North Texas Food Bank. In the past NTFB’s Empty Bowls had shivering souls heading to the Meyerson for the annual soup-athon.

Empty Bowls (File photo)

The NTFB-ers have waved “bye-bye” to the Meyerson and headed down to Ross Street to F.I.G.

Empty Bowls soup (File photo)

 

The date for the 2017 liquid sipping is Friday, March 2 (aka Texas Independence Day).

Won’t be a problem. The winter’s chill has traditionally not ended until St. Patrick’s Day.

So, the ladles will be serving the liquid delights to help those in the North Texas community suffering from hunger.

Why not invite a bud to lunch and help want-to-be-buds? There will be music, silent auctions for bowls and for those with VIP status, they’ll be able to get first grabs of artisan handmade bowls.

And while you’re at it, meet Trisha Cunningham. This lunch-athon is her first as NTFB CEO/president.

2017 Crystal Charity Ball Hit The Mountain Tops Of Fundraising With Fabulous Fashions, Feasting And Faces At “An Evening In The Alps”

The munchkins wandering through the Anatole toward the hotel’s Peppermint Park must have thought the Crystal Charity Ball’s “An Evening In The Alps” was part of the Park layout on Saturday, December 2. So did their parents, as they shot photos of the kids standing in front of the snowy hill scene with red sleigh tilted picture-perfect on the upper level of the Chantilly Ballroom’s lobby.

Bob McCreath, Brandon Perella, Medley Wollenman, Vin and Pam Perella, Lauren Perella, Adam Ryan and Carolyn Curl

The backdrop proved to be ideal also for the CCB crowd in their finery. First to try it out was 2017 CCB Chair Pam Perella and her family (husband Vin Perella, mom Carolyn Curl, dad Bob McCreath, daughter Lauren Perella with Adam Ryan and son Brandon Perella with Medley Wollenman). That was quickly followed by a snap of Pam with the members of her leadership committee (Anne Besser, Leslie Diers, Elizabeth Gambrell, Cheryl Joyner and Kristina Whitcomb).

Elizabeth Gambrell, Cheryl Joyner, Pam Perella, Leslie Diers, Kristina Whitcomb and Anne Besser

No sooner had the final official photos been taken than the 1,500+ guests, including Diane and Hal Brierley, Barbara and Ralph Babb, Luanne and Aaron McWhorter, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Martha and Doug Hawthorne, Liat and Amit Berger, Calee Dillon, Christina and Christopher Durovitch, Lee Bailey, Brent Christopher, Robin Robinson, Lindalyn Adams with grandson Carlton Adams, Greg Bieberding, Eddie Ortega, Isabell Novakov with Trey Higginbotham, Kathleen Gibson, Kim and Greg Hext, Linda Perryman Evans, Joanna Clarke with Michael Royal, Cindy Stager with Oscar Durham, Kristen and Reed Gibbins, Kristi and Ron Hoyl, Angela Nash with Billy Martin Jr., Margot and Bill Goodwin, Louise and Guy Griffeth, Caroline Rose Hunt with Del Frnka, Karen and David Shuford, Barbara and John Stuart, John Clutts, Dr. Sami Arslanlar, Billie Leigh Rippey with daughter Paige Locke, Norma Hunt with son Dan Hunt and his wife Toni Munoz-Hunt, Brenda and Bob White, Su-Su and Jerry Meyer, Dana and Greg McGowan, Scott Everett with Kristy Lohse, Elizabeth and Paul Dougan, Susan McSherry with John Zogg, Jan and Fred Hegi, Peggy and Dr. Dan Meyer, Laura and Paul Hudson, Andrea Devaldenebro and Leonardo Gonzalez Sangri, Amy and Michael Meadows, Kimberly and Justin Whitman, Stacey and John Relton and the Neiman’s crowd (Mimi and Rich Sterling, Neva Hall and soon-to-retire Malcolm Reuben with wife Vinnie Reuben), arrived through a tree-lined entry hall that immediately set the mood with a whiff of the evergreen.

Christina and Christopher Durovich

Ralph and Barbara Babb

Jerry and Su-Su Meyer

Trey Higginbotham and Isabell Novakov

Lindalyn Adams and Carlton Adams

Calee Dillon and Amit and Liat Berger

Oscar Durham and Cindy Stager

Del Frnka and Caroline Rose Hunt

Pat and Charles McEvoy and Jill and Bob Smith

Norma Hunt, Dan Hunt and Toni Munoz-Hunt

Lee Bailey

Mimi and Rich Sterling

Malcolm and Vinnie Reuben

Since the evening’s temperatures didn’t require outerwear, guests bypassed the coat check and headed to the gaming tables, the lavish silent auction gallery, James French’s pop-up studio, The Alpine Shop for perusing and the rustic “warming hut” with its mountains of shrimp and buffets of other delicacies.

And, of course, there were the CCB committee members with the balloons selling chance tickets for the 2018 Lexus. CCB newbie Lisa Singleton was joined by CCB vet Lynn McBee in selling raffle tickets. Her goal was $15,000, but within the first 20 minutes she had only sold $350. A few minutes later, she had doubled that amount. Things were looking up.

CCB-ers Lisa Cooley and Alison Malone set up shop at a table to the left of the entry and next to the bar. They had come in second last year and were bound and determined to sell the most tickets this year. Not only did they, but Alison’s husband/advertising guru Mike Malone told Katherine and Key Coker that Alison won the raffle last year and it would bring them good luck to buy their ticket from her. He was right. The Cokers had the winning ticket. And, yes, Lisa and Alison sold the most tickets of the night.

Key and Katherine Coker

Jim and Kristen Hinton

Among the first-time guests in the crowd were Baylor Scott Scott and White Health CEO Jim Hinton and his wife Kristen Hinton and Dallas Summer Musical’s Ken Novice and his wife Kouy Novice. Despite having been in town just seven months, Ken reported that the DSM had just signed a 20-year partnership agreement with Broadway Across America and is planning on an aggressive outreach to young people — around Fair Park and via the Dallas Independent School District. He admitted that, “We’re going to need to increase our budget,” which means stepping up fundraising efforts. He also wants to update the Music Hall at Fair Park, including changes in parking and traffic flows and increasing seating capacity.

John Clutts, Ken and Kouy Novice and Sami Arslanlar

And speaking of business, RED Development’s Paul Rowsey was optimistic about Amazon’s coming to North Texas. He believes Amazon will split its new headquarters between two cities, with Dallas having a good chance of being one of them… Ben Lange was introducing Evelyn Costello, who had just been named executive director for Luke’s Fastbreak Shirts.

Evelyn Costello and Ben and Tracy Lange

Robyn and Don Conlon

But it wasn’t just guys talking business. Former CCB Chair Robyn Conlon was beaming over her son Keith Conlon’s recent accomplishments. Not only did he get $10K taken off the price of his Rangers 2018 season tickets after hitting a home run over the Bud sign at Globe Life Park, but Keith had just been named general manager at Allie Beth Allman and Associates as well.

Midway through the cocktail reception, word was passed — “Do you know Tagg?” Was it a new social media hashtag? There was just a bit of distress as the question continued to be asked. The answer was that, thanks to high-tech cars, “Mr. Tagg” had left his car running with the valet and joined the throng inside. Only problem was he had taken the key with him. When he disappeared into the throng inside, the car dutifully came to a grinding stop, creating an unplanned conversation piece blocking the valet line. Finally, he …or, more importantly, his key was found and the flow of high-end vehicles rolled back into place.

And while the crowd grew in the lobby, the final preparations were being made in the Chantilly Ballroom for the doors to open at 9 p.m. The ballroom’s walls were covered with shimmering floor-to-ceiling draping, with towering screens displaying videos of wintry ventures. A mammoth stage was set up along the back of the ballroom for the bands.

At Pam’s and Annette Simmons’ table were monogrammed napkins along with gargantuan floral arrangements. 

Other tables also impressed with centerpieces highlighted by candles in suspended globes hovering over silver tablecloths, crystal. In the chairs were such favors at Tiffany boxes containing Tiffany weave porcelain bowls and the 2017 Children’s Book and the 2018 Calendar.

Right on cue, the Anatole’s Catherine New did the countdown for the staff to open the doors at 9 p.m. to the elegant dinner starting with a first course (poached lobster and roasted beets , arugula and frisée salad and grilled figs, shaved fennel, pickled watermelon radish, citrus mountain blooms and champagne vinaigrette) followed by the entrée (grilled filet of beef, roasted Cipollini red wine demi-glace, gratin dauphinoise, grilled farmer’s market carrots and turnips and seared asparagus). For dessert, it was Toblerone Swiss milk chocolate mousse with honey and almond nougat, Basler Brunsli crisp and coconut snow.

Ciara Cooley, Bela Cooley and Isabell Terry

Betsy Crousen

Dwight and Claire Emanuelson

Libby and Al Allred

But as glorious as the room and menu were, the CCB guests once again were setting a standard for OMG fashion with the ladies in labels bearing such names as Herrera (Pam Perella, Christi Urschel, Jennifer Dix, Piper Wyatt, Kristina Whitcomb, Laura Moon), Zac Posen (Claire Emanuelson, Pat McEvoy, Delilah Boyd, Patty Leyendecker), Pamela Roland (Lisa Troutt, Gail Fischer), Armani (Paige Slates), Anne Fontaine (Amy Hegi), Chanel (DeeDee Lee), Dior (Betsy Crousen, Kara Goss and Dianna Miller), Badgley Mischka (Nikki Webb), Tom Ford (Heather Esping), Galvan (Lynn McBee), Oscar (Annette Simmons, Lisa Singleton), Tom and Linda Platt (Cheryl Joyner) Lela Rose (Linda Secrest), Marchesa (Ciara Cooley), Etro (Janie Condon), Escada (Caren Kline), Mackenzie Brittingham (Bela Cooley, Nancy Collins), Worth Collection (Alicia Wood), Patti Flowers (Lisa Cooley, Tanya Foster) and Michael Faircloth (Tracy Lange, Tiffany Divis, Mary Martha Pickens, Libby Allred, Elsa Norwood, Diane Byrd, Sue Scala, Stephanie Scala). Michael is probably in designer recovery.

On their well-pedicured feet were such slippers as Jimmy Choo, Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Weitzman, Rene Caovilla, Gianvito Rossi and Adrianna Papell.

Needless to say, Judith Leiber dominated the clutch department, followed by Chanel, Charlotte Max Design, Alexander McQueen, YSL and Jimmy Choo.

And, of course, it just wouldn’t have been a glittery affair without the bling-bling from Eiseman, Diamonds Direct, Bachendorf, Neiman’s, Sue Gragg, deBoulle, Julianna LeBlanc, William Noble, Cartier, Tiffany and family treasures.

Kara and Randall Goss and Dianna Miller

Delilah and Sam Boyd

Pete and Tanya Foster and Alicia and Scott Wood

Paige and John Slates

Crayton and Nikki Webb

 

Mike and Piper Wyatt

DeeDee Lee and Randy and Ginny Bailey

Tiffany and Paul Divis

But the most popular look of the night for the ladies was the caterpillar false eyelashes that would have made Liz Taylor’s double row of lashes look thin. It seems that along with having hair done, makeup applied and nails polished, one must have an appointment to have an extra layer of lashes.

On the other hand, the gents in the crowd held their own with tuxedos by Bob Baumann (Richard Dix), Chris Despos (Clay Cooley), Isaia (Vin Perella), J. Hilburn (Kenny Troutt), Bruno Cucinelli (Dwight Emanuelson), Edward Baumann Clothiers (Scott Wood), Zegna (Charles McEvoy), Q Custom Clothier (Al Allred) and loads of Armani (David Condon, John Slates, Les Secrest).

Amy Simmons and Joe Crafton

Lisa and Kenny Troutt

Laura and Dennis Moon

Christie Carter and Hudson Weischel

Simply Irresistible

Mary and Robert Black and Cliff Fischer

As Atlanta’s Simply Irresistible took the stage, Amy Simmons and husband Joe Crafton were the first on the dance floor followed by Francie Moody-Dahlberg and husband Kevin Dalhberg, Laura and Dennis Moon, Mary and Robert Black, Gail and Cliff Fischer, Christie Carter and Hudson Weischel, Connie and Denny Carreker, Pam and Vin and Leslie and Bryan Diers.

Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse

Kelli and Jerry Ford

Jerry Jones

Gayle Stoffel, Gene Jones and Anita Arnold

Having just as much fun on the sidelines were Michal Powell, Aileen and Jack Pratt, Mary Clare Finney with Chris Branscum and Annette Simmons’ “Jerry table” including her husband Jerry Fronterhouse, Jerry Ford with wife Kelli Ford and Jerry Jones with wife Gene Jones as well as Anita and Truman Arnold and Gayle and Paul Stoffel. But the music was too hard to resist, so soon Annette and her Jerry were on the dance floor, too.

MySweet2018Goals: Whitney Strauss

Whitney Strauss (File photo)

According to new AdvoCare Foundation Executive Director Whitney Strauss, MySweet2018Goals are

  1. “Make hundreds, thousands…millions more children healthier by combatting the causes of childhood obesity in Dallas but throughout the US.
  2. “Make my own household healthier by paying attention to food labels, exercising regularly, cooking at home and cutting out sugar
  3. “Take up a dance class because no better way to stay fit then doing something you love
  4. “Travel, read and pursuit a passion
  5. “Hug my boys and read up on how to handle a teenager – because I will have one in my house this year!”

Ability Connection’s 10th Annual Vine And Dine Delighted Guests With Fine Cuisine, Success Stories And A Paddle Battle In The Live Auction

With Thanksgiving just a week away, Neiman Marcus Downtown came alive after-store hours on Thursday, November 16, for the 10th Annual Vine and Dine benefiting the Ability Connection. From cocktails on the ground level to a three-course seated dinner in the Zodiac Room, the evening was a feast for the gourmets. In addition to clients charming and delighting guests with their success stories, a bidding war arose during the live auction for a culinary package designed by NM VP Corporate Food Services Kevin Garvin. Here’s a report from the field:

Neiman Marcus Downtown*

An annual November favorite, the who’s who of Dallas gathered at Neiman Marcus Downtown’s elegant Zodiac Room for Ability Connection’s 10th Annual Vine and Dine gala. For the past decade, every November the most prominent of Dallasites fill The Zodiac Room in order to wine and dine in support of children and adults with special needs.

Guest drank the most decadent of wine and bid on the most dazzling of items at Ability Connection’s annual Vine and Dine gala at Neiman Marcus.

Amongst the haute couture and glistening jewelry, guests enjoyed cocktails and company as they perused the items available for silent auction. Cosmopolitans, sauvignon blanc and cabernet circled across the entrance of the flagship store as Ability Connection clients greeted the eager attendees.

Vine and Dine Co-Chairs Jack and Meredith Woodworth with their son Jeff Woodworth, and the Ability Connection Board Chair Don Laidlaw were joined by Debbie and Jim Francis, Bob Cavanaugh, Gary Roberts, Vin Perella, Becky Petereit, Stacia Ellis, Steven Levin, Teri Hardin, Jane Corbellini, Claire Emanuelson, Kelli and Lane Seliger, to name a few. Allie Beth Allman and associates were also in attendance.

Vine and Dine table setting*

Guests moved upstairs after a cocktail hour of anticipation, to the adorned Zodiac Room for a seated dinner prepared by Neiman’s Executive Chef David Crow that included a first course (Fresh ricotta ravioli, eggplant caponata, pine nuts, Parmesan, pomodoro and crispy artichokes), second course (Filet mignon, wild mushroom and autumn vegetables, parsnip, mashed potato, caramelized shallot demi-glace) and dessert (White chocolate dried cherry bread pudding, cinnamon gelato and kanlua sauce) with wines from Coquerel Vineyards.

Troy Greisen, Jay Williams and Meredith and Jack Woodworth*

President and CEO Troy Greisen took a few minutes to thank the Ability Connection board, who supported the event, as well as Neiman Marcus and the Woodworths. His Co-MC Jay Williams, a client of Ability Connection dazzled the crowd with his charming jokes and wit, as the two welcomed the guests and introduced the special speakers for the night.

Shawn Robinette*

Shawn Robinette, another client of Ability Connection spoke about how the organization assisted him in finding a job as a dishwasher at St. Marc’s school [sic] St. Mark’s School of Texas, and helped him work towards his goal of achieving independence. Soon after, Nina Shultz spoke about her experience with the organization that was critical in her pursuit of inclusion. The client stories touched the hearts of the attendees and reminded everyone that the night was also to celebrate individuals of all abilities. Debbie Francis shared a powerful message as she shared stories of her son, Bo Francis, and her family’s connection to the cause of the night.

Don Laidlaw*

Auctioneer Adam Williams of Heritage Auctions truly put on a show as he presented the items available for bidding. Jane Corbellini and Don Laidlaw engaged in a bidding war over the Kevin Garvin culinary package, only for the two of them to walk away victorious as Neiman Marcus spontaneously donated two for the night. Among the items available for bidding were one of Susan Palma’s legendary needlepoint belts, pet portraits painted by the renowned Jane Corbellini, and an extraordinary piece by global artist Christopher Martin.

Attendees were completely surprised by the final auction item available for bidding- a true original made by the students of Ability Connection’s Life Change program. A series of three canvas paintings inspired by Jackson Pollock, the masterpieces were purchased by The Sheehans of The Moss Foundation, and generously donated to Becky’s House, an Ability Connection home.

As the night closed out, attendees walked out with keys in their hands, not only to the doors of their homes, but the keys to life change.

* Photo provided by Ability Connection

A Gentle Reminder: Be Prepared As 2017 Chills Out

December 29, 2016 (File photo)

As if it wasn’t chilly enough, the weather predictors are claiming that 2017 is going to repeat 2016’s cold shoulder departure. The good news is that ice is not a major part of the equation. Still, if drizzle and a wintry mix does pop up, it just may freeze resulting in slip-and-slide conditions. Hopefully, electricity won’t be compromised. Luckily, Oncor and TxDot are already taking steps just in case.

Suggestion: Why not take a second to prepare as the Arctic Front rolls this way. Here are some items to consider:

  • Have a blanket in your car.
  • Bring your pets and plants indoors.
  • Pull out those gloves, woolly socks, six-foot scarves, ear muffs and sock caps.
  • Get those errands run now. No need to trek out as the temperatures drop and the wind picks up.
  • Start making some soups, gingerbread and chili. Not only will they taste good, they’ll create a great aroma for the house.
  • Check leaks in windows and doors to cut down on the outside temperature sneaking in.
  • Cover all outdoor pipes.
  • Stock up on batteries.
  • If your car is outdoors, cover the windshield to prevent possible wintry mix from coating it.
  • Check on your neighbors and elderly/disabled friends. They may be trying to cut down on costs by reducing the heat in their homes.
  • Don’t use your fireplace if it hasn’t cleaned.
  • Candles and space heaters are nice, but they also can start fires. Keep them away from combustibles. The fire department really doesn’t want to make a house call.
  • Check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher.

MySweetWishList: 2018 Dream Gala

According to Greater Dallas JDRF Executive Director Amy Camp,

Amy Camp*

“The Greater Dallas Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation recently announced its annual Dream Gala, which raises funds for research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes, will be held Saturday, April 28, at the Omni Dallas Hotel. The JDRF Dream Gala is a night of celebration and inspiration for all those living with and affected by type 1 diabetes. The theme of the 2018 Dream Gala is ‘Oh, What a Night!’ and it will honor 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto. The evening will feature silent and live auctions, seated dinner, inspiring program, Fund A Cure appeal, and live entertainment by the Midtown Men. Event chairs include: Joe DePinto, Dave Strauss, Harold Gernsbacher and Scott Paul.

“Founded in 1970, JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, policy influence, and a working plan to bring life-changing therapies from the lab to the community. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF has invested nearly $2B in research over the past 45 years, and is sponsoring scientific research in 17 countries worldwide. The Dream Gala itself helps raise a large portion of funds to support the ongoing research.

“We hope you will make plans to join us for the 2018 Dream Gala. For more information, as well as underwriting opportunities, please visit: http://www.jdrf.org/dallas/events/save-the-date-for-the-2018-jdrf-dream-gala/or contact the Melissa Pinkerton at [email protected] or 214.764.6770.”

-By Amy Camp, Greater Dallas JDRF Executive Director

* Photo provided by Greater Dallas JDRF

MySweetWishList: 2018 Cattle Baron’s Ball

According to 2018 Cattle Baron’s Co-Chairs Katy Bock and Jonika Nix,

Jonika Nix and Katy Bock“Cattle Baron’s has raised more than $75 million for cancer research projects in North Texas since its inception 45 years ago.  We plan to reveal our plans for continuing this important battle in early February and our wish is that the community will join us in our goal to eradicate cancer by becoming underwriters of this 2018 Cattle Baron’s Ball. 

“The first Cattle Baron’s Ball was as a full-fledged Texas barbecue under the chairmanship of Patti Hunt and Jacque Wynne.  The event was a sellout with more than 500 guests attending the western theme party at Toddie Lee Wynne’s Star Brand Ranch.  Through ticket sales and an auction, the Park Cities Branch of the American Cancer Society raised $56,000.

“Decades later, more than 100,000 guests have been entertained at the annual event which has become the world’s largest single event fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The Cattle Baron’s Ball Committee and the American Cancer Society have expanded the ball’s purpose to include a myriad of services that provide services for cancer patients and their families.

“We hope you will join us by becoming an underwriter of the 2018 Cattle Baron’s Ball. Visit www.cattlebaronsball.com.”

-By Katy Bock and Jonika Nix, 2018 Cattle Baron’s Ball co-chairs

MySweetWishList: Café Momentum

According to Café Momentum’s 2017 Momentum Society Co-Chair Ashlee Kleinert,

 “The Momentum Society, founded in 2016 by Inaugural Co-Chairs Sally and Forrest Hoglund, set out to connect 80 donors to the mission of Café Momentum: to transform young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. With a $5,000 gift and a belief in that vision, those first 80 donors paved the way for the Momentum Society to empower each young person who walked through the doors of Café Momentum.

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert, TJ and Mackenzie Kleinert, Tyler Kleinert and Nick Babikian and Connie Kleinert*

“This year, my husband, Chris Kleinert, and I are honored to co-chair the Momentum Society effort alongside our family (Connie, Nick, Tyler, Mackenzie and TJ) with the hope that by year’s end, the Momentum Society can reach 100 donors with a $500,000 commitment to provide transformative experiences to young men and women coming out of juvenile facilities. We invite you to join us in this goal and to consider joining the Momentum Society online or by calling Margaret Windham, chief development officer for Café Momentum, at 214.435.6421.

“On Wednesday, November 22, Café Momentum began its participation in the ‘40 Days of Gratitude – Gift A Future’ campaign. During the 40 hectic days that connect Thanksgiving and New Years, we look forward to sharing messages of gratitude from Café Momentum interns and staff as a daily reminder to take time to appreciate the good in each of our lives and to ask the community to consider ‘Gifting a Future’ to the young men and women working their way through our program.

Cafe Momentum is a non-profit restaurant providing a transformative experience through a
post-release internship program for young men and women coming out of juvenile facilities. The interns rotate through all aspects of the restaurant, focusing on life and social skills, coaching and development. The case management team of Cafe Momentum provides an ecosystem of support around the interns to help them achieve their greatest potential. The restaurant is located at 1510 Pacific Ave. at Akard on Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas and serves dinner Thursday through Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. For more information call 214.303.1234 or go to http://cafemomentum.org/. You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cafemomentum or Twitter and Instagram using the handle @cafemomentum.

-By Ashlee Kleinert, Café Momentum’s 2017 Momentum Society co-chair

* Photo proved by Café Momentum

MySweetWishList: Art Ball 2018

According to Art Ball 2018 Chairman Rebecca Enloe Fletcher,

Rebecca Enloe Fletcher*

“We recently announced Art Ball 2018, themed ‘Horizon – Now. New. Next,’ will be held Saturday, April 21, at the Dallas Museum of Art. Proceeds from the 53rd  annual Art Ball will directly affect the DMA’s ongoing commitment to providing free access to its world-renowned collection, as well as various exhibitions and educational programs throughout the year.

“’Art Ball 2018: Horizon – Now. New. Next’ will be a fresh, inventive take on this celebrated evening full of contemporary color and artistic surprises. We will recognize a new chapter in the Museum’s history, both celebrating our current accomplishments as well as looking toward the future.

“We hope you will consider joining us for an unforgettable evening of dinner and dancing that will provide vital support to our museum. With assistance from Todd Fiscus of Todd Events, the event will feature modern, contemporary décor with a sculptural feel. Cascading color from the ceiling will mimic the vibrant horizon and will be reflected throughout in the mirrored décor. Guests will be welcomed into an elegant, seated dinner catered by Cassandra Fine Catering, and an after party for Art Ball Patrons will follow the dinner and live auction.

“Proceeds from The Art Ball directly benefit the DMA’s programs, special exhibitions and collections. The DMA’s global collection of more than 24,000 works is nationally regarded and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Its programs are among the most innovative and robust in reaching new audiences. The DMA anchors the Dallas Arts District, and over the past fiscal year was visited by more than 800,000 people. Over the past 20 years, the DMA’s Art Ball has raised more than $28 million to support the Museum’s mission of engaging and educating the community through art. Last year’s event raised $1.3 million in net revenue, and the 2018 gala is expected to continue the strong tradition of giving, which has greatly benefited the Museum and its visitors for more than 50 years.

“For tickets or to learn more about underwriting opportunities, please visit www.DMA.org or contact the Art Ball Office at [email protected] or 214.922.1800.”

-By Rebecca Enloe Fletcher, Art Ball 2018 chairman

* Photo provided by Dallas Museum of Art

How About A Sweet Gift That Won’t Break The Bank

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the rear view mirror, some folks are still stumped for the perfect gift.

Bonton Farms just may have the answer.

What is Bonton? It’s a community in southeast Dallas that got underway in the early 1900s. Instead of flourishing as North Texas did over the decades, it fell into a whirlpool of poverty and crime. Since 63% of its resident lacked personal transportation, they had to rely on public transit resulting in a three-hour round-trip for grocery shopping. Bonton literally became the perfect example of an “food desert.”

Luckily, in recent years people have come together to change the situation. One of the most impressive steps was the creation of 40-acre Bonton Farms with vegetables, poultry and goats providing fresh food for locals and for sale. In addition to the Bonton residents, a Great Pyrenees named Moses oversaw the operations.

Bonton Farms’ goat*

Bonton honey (Not actual bottle)

And one of the products that might meet the idea of perfect gifting was Bonton honey. It’s locally produced thanks to the Bon Ton residential bees; it’s benefiting the Bonton efforts and it’s cheap ($8 for a bottle).

What an ideal stocking stuffer or hostess gift! Or, what about dressing it up with a toast holder and a fresh loaf of Empire Bakery bread? And why not get some of the honey for yourself? It’s perfect to sweeten up hot tea.

And if you’re holiday gift list is done, consider Bonton honey for future gifts. It’s a sweet deal.

* Photo credit: Jason Janik