Celebrity Chef Nancy Silverton Brought “Zest” To Sold-Out Lunch Fundraiser For VNA Programs

Nancy Silverton

There’s just something about the creation of a meal that is both soothing and magical. At the Haggerty Kitchen Center on Mockingbird, it came together for the Celebrity Chef Luncheon Tuesday, February 28. As Los Angeles-based James Beard Foundation 2014 Outstanding Chef Awardee Nancy Silverton prepared for a demonstration, the sold-out crowd including Honorary Chair Sara Fraser CrismonPaula Lambert, Rena Pederson, Caren Prothro, Mary Martha Pickens, Fanchon and Howard Hallam, Anne Leary, Cathy Buckner and Lucian LaBarba with Christina LaBarba gathered. Paige McDaniel proclaimed, “This is one of my favorite events.”

Sara Fraser Crismon

Howard and Fanchon Hallam

Lucian LaBarba, Jennifer Atwood and Christina LaBarba

But before things got started and folks checked out the silent auction items, Empire Baking Company’s Meaders Ozarow recalled her childhood with her creative mother. The twosome would drive in from Abilene and visit NorthPark Center with its Magic Pan, Carriage Shop and Neiman’s. It was her mother’s creative spirit that both baffled Meadows and planted the seeds for her own talents.

Janet Ryan

But all too soon, the program was underway with VNA Board Chair Janet Ryan revealing that it was also President/CEO Katherine Krause’s birthday. Instead of blowing out candles on a cake, Katherine focused on the importance of the fundraiser that would provide funding for the Meals on Wheels and Hospice Care programs.

Katherine Krause

Katherine told of heart-wrenching numbers and stories about the people served by VNA’s Meals on Wheels program. For instance, 65% of the 4,600 home-bound and in need of the service are women. Of that number, 14 are more than 100 years old. The oldest is 105. Katherine shared the story about hospice-client Priscilla Hartman, who had just recently died at the age of 107. She had started using Meals on Wheels in her 90s. While others her age had found a comfy couch to retire to, she had discovered a new life literally by volunteering at Parkland holding newborn babies until her retirement at the age of 92.

Speaking of hospice, Katherine reminded the guests that Medicare covers hospice care for those over 65 years of age. On the other hand, VNA’s Hospice Care is able to step up and help those under 65 in need of hospice care.

VNA kettle

Chris Culak and Paige McDaniels

Next up was VNA Director of Development Chris Culak, who reported that each year VNA has to spend about $300,000 to replace the kitchen equipment that provides 6,000 meals daily. He then directed the attention to a kettle displayed on the terrace that was the size of a small car. It carried with it a price tag of a SUV — $40,000. But it alone can produce 1,800 meals. Chris then made the request that people donate to the Kitchen Fund to help replace the equipment.

But the day’s program wasn’t to focus on the deeds achieved daily by VNA. Its focus was Nancy, who had also been heavily involved with Meals on Wheels in LA.

Kale salad with zest grater

Despite having more experience and credentials than could be put into that kettle, Nancy walked the room through the creation of her Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies. She emphasized the fact that despite 21st century techie tools found in many kitchens, she still prefers some old favorites like her zest grater. She also stressed the importance of fresh ingredients. Despite the initial eye shifting by some members of the audience at the thought of kale and anchovies being tasty, they changed their tunes when a parade of servers presented plates with the salad to kick off their family-style meal made up of recipes (Flattened Chicken Thigh with Charred Lemon Salsa Verde; Pasta Salad with Bitter Greens, Parmigiano Cream and Guanciale; Oily Galicky Spinach; Glazed Onions Agrodolce; Bean Salad with Celery Leaf Pesto; Marinated Lentils; Slow-roasted Roma Tomatoes with Garlic and Thyme; Marinated Roasted Sweet Peppers; and Four-layer Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart) from Nancy’s recently published cookbook, “Mozza At Home.” Organizers were so smart. In listing the various items on the menu, they also included the page on which the recipe could be found.

One guest later admitted that she went home and tried the recipe, only to discover that it was just as good as what had been served at the luncheon.

In between stages of preparation, Nancy provided anecdotes like the fact that the VNA’s purchase of 400 copies of her new cookbook “Mozza At Home” as favors had turned out to be a record-breaker for her. The book was the result of Nancy’s realizing that after rising up the food chain and running six restaurants in the U.S. and Singapore, she had gotten sidetracked from her original love of cooking for friends. During a restful trip to Italy, she started rediscovering the joy of food, friends and fresh ingredients. She also realized that other hosts/hostesses found themselves in similar situations. So, she put together 19 menus with easy-to-follow recipes that could be prepared in advance and interchanged.

But her work wasn’t done. Later she would do another demonstration for the sold-out Celebrity Chef Dinner.

For more pictures from the food-fest fundraiser, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Thursday’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon Will Be Serving Up A Different Type Of Baguette

Fendi baguette

There’s a bit of irony in the raffle item at Thursday’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon at Brook Hollow. In addition to having Ree “The Pioneer Woman” Drummond presenting her own style of cooking expertise, there is  a delicious baguette being raffled off.  It’s a Fendi baguette. No, it’s not something that La Madeleine will be carrying. Rather, Stanley Korshak’s Crawford Brock has arranged for an exquisite iridescent handbag with gold metallic handle and, of course, the Fendi logo on the clasp.

As if that isn’t enough, Crawford also managed to have Baguette Book “celebrating the 15th anniversary Fendi baguette autographed by the designers” added to the offering. The total package is valued at $2,000 with raffle tickets going for $50 per or five tickets for $200.

Plus, Luncheon Co-chair Alicia Wood has arranged for a second raffle item. It’s from Ree — all of her Williams-Sonoma favs including a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. For this one the tickets are $25 each or five for $100. Even if you can’t cook, this one just might inspire you to put on an apron and learn.

Proceeds from the luncheon are headed to the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Medical Center.

“The Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond Is Packing Wit And Wisdom for November 1st “Celebrity Chef Luncheon”

When the word “allergy” comes up, one usually thinks of the local weathercasts when they report Dr. Jeffrey Adelglass‘s ragweed count vs. elm. And this time of year, that’s important as watery eyes, scratchy throats and sneezing are making life and looks miserable.

But what about allergies that can kill? What about allergies that can kill children? No, not the bee stings but rather the food allergies? Imagine the mother who serves up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that results in her child going into convulsions. Or a youngster trying something grownup like crawfish etouffee and being rushed to an emergency room.

Research is proving that more and more certain foods are as poisonous as arsenic with first signs appearing in childhood.

Rachael, Nancy and Robert Dedman (File photo)

For instance, Rachael and Bob Dedman admit that they only became aware of the situation when their now- 10-year-old daughter Nancy suffered a severe reaction to peanuts and eggs. After a lot of research, they not only discovered that Children’s Medical Center annually treated more than 560 children with food allergies, but they provided CMC with the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Medical Center, a $2.35 million center dedicated to food allergies.

Alicia Wood (File photo)

To support the research and treatment of food allergies among children, Alicia Wood is chairing “Celebrity Chef Luncheon.” And, no, there will be not lap dancing or food tossing. That season is way past.

Instead, if you’re a foodie, you’re going to immediately know that Alicia has arranged for a star chef with a good-old-gal personality to be the headliner — red-haired Ree Drummond, aka  “The Pioneer Woman.”  She hails from Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband and four kids on their ranch. And, no, she doesn’t wear a bonnet and square dance. But she does have the kind of sense of humor and talent that has made her “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl” the #1 best-selling cookbook, not to mention a success for her 2011 memoir, “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels — A Love Story,” which debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction hardcover.

Ree’s style is not exactly along the lines of Martha Stewart or Julia Childs. Here are a couple of her blog posts:

  • BIG STEAK SALAD (Signature salad with sliced prime NY strip mesclung greens, caramelized pecans, stilton cheese, dried cherries, granny smith apples and grape tomatoes with balsamic dressing) — “There are few things I love more than a big green salad with sliced grilled steak on top. Whenever Marlboro Man and I land at this steakhouse or that, I’m always drawn to the steak salads on the menu because they’re the best of both worlds. Juicy medium rare steak. Girlie green salad. And usually, plenty of adornments ranging from freshly fried bits of peppered bacon to sauteed mushrooms to different kinds of grated cheese. I repeat: I love a good steak salad. I’ll take the dressing any old way, too. Blue cheese is a mainstay, and probably my first choice if all things were equal. But for this one, I went for more of a vinaigrette with just a little bit of sweetness.”
  • BUTTERY ROSEMARY ROLLS — I had some rolls like these in a restaurant once. Just after I placed an order for a ribeye steak and macaroni and cheese (excessive much?) the waiter brought a small iron skillet of bread to our table. They were warm, soft dinner rolls with the most delectable rosemary flavor and I couldn’t control myself. Within seconds, the rolls were gone and I was frantically scanning the restaurant for our waiter so I could request some more, which I eventually did. Three iron skillets of bread later, I was wishing I could cancel the steak and noodles. I’d eaten so many rolls, I smelled like rosemary for days. People kept stopping me, asking which Aveda product I was wearing.”
  • POTS DE CREME (Rich chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream) — Okay, first of all, here’s how you do NOT pronounce Pots de Creme: “Pawts deh Creem.” Here’s how you DO pronounce Pots de Creme: “Po de Krehm”, or, if you want to get really technical, “Po de k(insert phlegmy, back-of-the-throat crackly French sound) ehm”. Okay, now that we have that life-altering issue under control, let’s talk about this delightful dessert! Folks, I can’t begin to express to you how monumentally easy this Pots de Creme is to prepare, and how truly delicious it is. Short of sticking a spoon in a pint of Haagen Dazs and throwing it at my dinner guests, this is definitely the easiest dessert in my arsenal. Let’s make Pots de Creme! It’ll make ya feel reeeeeeal fancy-like.”

Ree will be bringing her wit and wisdom on food to Brook Hollow Golf Club on Thursday, November 1, for lunch to raise funds for the Food Allergy Center At Children’s Medical Center and the Food Allergy Initiatives.