TACA Custom Auction Gala’s Celebration Of 50 Years Of Funding The Arts “Tranformed” Into A Glistening Affair

The TACA Custom Auction Gala celebrating the art funding organization’s 50th anniversary was a time to glisten and shine. And on Friday, September 8, the first black-tie gala of the 2017 fall/winter fundraising season did just that. Only it wasn’t exactly for the reason some might have predicted.

Unlike years past, when it was held entirely inside the legendary Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, the guests discovered as they drove up to the auto courtyard that the gala had taken up more real estate. A large, see-thru tent complete with overhead lights and greenery, bars and a black stage surrounded by tables and chairs had been erected in the courtyard adjacent to the august hotel. Here the cocktail reception would be held, followed by the evening’s program. As for dinner, guests would saunter into the Mansion to dine and wine.

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart

Linda and Bill Custard

Robyn Flatt and Wilson Tarver

Don and Carol Glendenning

TACA Custom Auction Gala Co-Chairs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing reported that they were planning on wedding in summer 2018…Breast cancer survivor Linda Custard topped off in snow white hair reported that husband Bill Custard had teased her the year before that, for the first time, he had more hair than she did…Dallas Children’s Theater’s Robyn Flatt was thrilled about the theater’s new mega-sign lighting that took place on Wednesday, August 30. She also added that ticket sales for the annual Cabaret were going briskly…. After checking in outside the tent, guests like Carol and Don Glendenning, Wendy and Jeremy Strick, Laura and Dennis Moon, Lynn and Allan McBee, Lisa and Bill Ogle, Katherine Wynne and John Baer, Jan Barboglio, Barbara and Steve Durham, Stacie and Steve Adams and Mimi and Rich Sterling ambled on in for drinks and the evening’s festivities.

John Baer, Katherine Wynne and Laura and Dennis Moon

Jessica Chandler

Diane and Hal Brierley

When Dallas Theater Center Associate Artistic Director Joel Ferrell called the beautiful people to start the program, the veteran high rollers discovered that things had changed from the past. Instead of having front-row tables reserved for them to raise their bid paddles, it was a first-come, first-sit situation.

Then, as the body count for the sold-out event climbed past 275, the glamorous joint started getting pretty cozy. Thankfully it wasn’t a simmering August heat wave, and the  September evening’s outdoor temperature was still lingering in the upper 70’s. Still, the couple of occasionally open tent doors weren’t letting in much of a breeze. Like Ashley Wilkes, tuxedoed men in white buttoned-up shirts with ties smiled bravely, as their lady friends fanned themselves with their bid paddles like Scarlett O’Hara on the porch of Tara. It wasn’t a question of the portable A/C units not working up to snuff. Someone said there was an A/C unit trying its best in the back of the tent. But like the Titanic lifeboat count, there just weren’t enough of the little blowhards to meet the need as the festivities continued.

Joel got things started by introducing the evening’s Co-Chairs/lovebugs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing. The former Mansion/current Ritz chef with headset in place kicked things off welcoming the group. But when Wanda tried to provide an added welcome, her handheld mic proved to be a silent stick. Panic on the sidelines kicked in, and event planner Randi Steinhart scrambled on stage handing Wanda another handheld mic. It proved to be suffering from the same “Silent Sam” ailment as the other mic. Giggles arose among the guests. After repeated exchanges of dead mics with similar results and pleading looks at the production table with no results, the laughter had been replaced with awkward smiles. Trooper Wanda saved the situation by simply talking into Dean’s headset.


With a working mic in hand, TACA Chair Donna Wilhelm introduced “Celebration,” a dance commissioned by TACA to celebrate TACA’s 50th anniversary and performed by Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Bruce Wood Dance, and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Things were heating up. Now bid paddles were fanning at full pace, as the dancers performed flawlessly. But the icy cocktails were starting to wear off, and the body-heat temperatures table-side were rising.

Donna Wilhelm

Michelle Thomas

Katherine Bull and Jan Barboglio

Instead of going straight to the live auction, Donna returned to the stage and told of her roots in funding the New Works Fund going back to her childhood as the daughter of Polish immigrants. She was followed by incoming TACA Chair Michelle Thomas, who reported, “Did you know?” about TACA. On the front row was one of TACA’s original members Katherine Bull, who could have read chapter and verse about the days of Jane Murchison (Haber), Evelyn Lambert, Virginia Nick and the ladies getting together to raise funds for a new art group — Dallas Theater Center. But there was no mention of them or the TACA roots on this night.

The paddles kept paddling the air like a metronome at presto speed to fight off the feel of perspiration.

Louis Murad and Cyndi Phelps

Finally, it was time for auctioneer Louis Murad to lead the live auction. His aim, he’d said, was to haul in about $250,000. He said it was not going to be a repeat of the 2015 TACA Custom Auction Gala, when he had conducted the lackluster TACA auction in the cool Mansion Promenade. But as starting time neared, some, who knew they weren’t “players” or were starting to succumb to the heat, headed into the cool confines of the Mansion.

Auction sign holder

As Louis hopped on stage, he looked at the crowd of beauts and still felt confident. Two 21st century Austin Powers lovelies walked the stage like boxing ring girls holding signs designating the package for the crowd that was starting to look like a formally attired hot-yoga class. Flutes that had held champagne were drained. Makeup was starting to show premature signs of melting. Slender gals in gowns, who had stilettoed their way over the cobblestone courtyard, were now leaning against the tent’s walls, looking like wilted daisies. One woman at a front-row table stood. Louis asked if she was rising to bid. No, she was headed to the bar for a couple of drinks for friends. Items that had been described as “priceless,” were barely hitting the five-figure neighborhood.

Thanks to Diane and Hal Brierley, the evening’s bidding venture wasn’t a total loss, with their taking home dinner with Dean Fearing and Cowboy greats (Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston and Emmitt Smith) for $32,500. Alas, Louis’ goal of a quarter of a million bucks didn’t hit its target. Including the post-auction, shout-out for funds, the evening’s take wasn’t too much more than $100,000.

One person commented, “Too sober. Too hot. This group is ready for church.”

As crass as this comment was, it was a Reader’s Digest critique. Usually, most fundraisers have the live auction preceded by a cocktail party and a well-quenched dinner. The true experts in the live auction world know that you don’t want the guests to be “too happy” that they don’t have the day-after blues. But you do want them to be lulled into feeling the lift of the paddles is painless. Not the case here. Between the heat and the grumbling tummies, these celebrants wanted to get out of the tent and onto dinner inside the air-conditioned Mansion.

According to one TACA organizer, the thinking was that people wanted the dinner to follow the live auction, so they could settle back and linger, as opposed to hustling to the auction. They also felt that the dance performance would rally the paddles into a frenzy high.

But this POA turned into a perfect storm for Monday morning quarterbacking. Had they held the live auction in the Mansion ballroom, the heat factor would not have kicked in. Had they held the live auction after the seated dinner, there would have been a more festive lifting of the paddles. Had the auction items been curated by a true luxury team like the 2017 Art Ball’s Jennifer Karol and Rajan Patel instead of parceling some items out to out-of-state AmFund, the paddles might have waved like the flags on the Fourth of July. Had the annual farm-to-table package been part of the lineup, even the poorest of the rich crowd would have had paddled up.

Editor’s comment: As the new regime of TACA gets underway for the next 50 years, it appears to still be a project in development. But on this night the celebration of TACA’s 50th anniversary wasn’t quite the bravo production that some had hoped for. MIA were some longtime TACA supporters. According to one source, past TACA chairs had been invited to join the host committee. When one “past TACA co-chair” had received the invite, she responded, “My husband and I don’t support the arts. We’ve never been to a TACA event, so I doubt we’ve ever chaired one.”

Organizers intimated that this would be the last TACA live auction. Perhaps it’s just as well, since the 2017 TACA Custom Auction Gala went out with a whimper, and not a bang.

TACA Custom Auction Gala Item #6 — An Unforgettable Evening With The Dallas Cowboys And Dean Fearing

TACA Custom Auction Gala Co-Chair Wanda Gierhart has connections and great taste, don’t you know. She’s managed to get one of country’s best known culinary kings to come on board as part of this auction item. And adding some muscle to it, she’s scored some additional heavyweights for this delicious package that will be auctioned off by auctioneer Louis Murad on Friday, September 8, at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

An Unforgettable Evening With The Dallas Cowboys And Dean Fearing* (Value: Priceless)

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart (File photo)

Troy Aikman (File photo)

Daryl Johnston (File photo)

Emmitt Smith (File photo)

He’s known for many things. Dean Fearing has been cowboy boot-wearing chef at both the Mansion and now The Ritz Carlton. He’s part of “The Lost Coyote Band. He’s given loads of time and talent to countless area nonprofits. He’s TACA Custom Auction Gala co-chair. And he just happens to be engaged to his Co-Chair Wanda. Told you that Wanda had “connections and great taste.”

The winner of the sweet deal will have Dean having the time of his life creating a three-course Southwestern dinner in the winner’s home-sweet-home for a dozen folks.

As for those serving up the courses, Wanda and Dean tapped a trio of cowboys… well, former cowboys like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Daryl Johnston. But don’t get your hopes up for a speedy meal. After all, selfies do slow things down when “the help” is this crew. Just imagine Troy throwing a platter to Daryl to hands off to Emmitt. Oops! Better keep the good china locked up in the pantry.

BTW, since the meal is based on the foursome’s availability, football season is likely to be out of the question.

*Courtesy of Dean Fearing, Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston and Emmitt Smith

MySweetCharity Opportunity: TACA 50th Anniversary Gala

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing (File photo)

According to TACA 50th Anniversary Chair Wanda Gierhart,

Everyone chooses to have a 50th birthday celebration because it’s a milestone—a golden anniversary—and TACA has at least 50 reasons to have a party.

It is in this spirit that TACA has set Friday, September 8, for its 50th Anniversary Gala at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. I’ve recruited my fiancé, Chef Dean Fearing, to co-chair the celebration with me. The evening, the kick-off to Dallas’ black-tie season, will begin at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and music.

Directly following, we’ve asked TITAS’ Charles Santos and Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Bridget Moore to produce and direct an exclusive TACA-commissioned celebratory performance featuring dancers from several TACA’s grantees including Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance and Bruce Wood Dance Project.

Front Row At The Bruce Wood Dance Gallery*

Did you know that TACA brought the concept of the luxury live auction to Dallas when it was founded 50 years ago? This year’s auction, which follows the performance, promises to be our best ever. Those of you who know me know when it comes to auction packages, I don’t play around, so you can expect my “A”-game.

After the auction, guests will enjoy a delectable seated dinner throughout the Mansion’s many beautiful rooms. For a high level donor, the wine cellar will be available for an intimate dinner with your favorite people. Following dinner, there will be a lively after-party with music and dancing.

Since this will be the last gala of its type, we’re planning it to be extra special and lots of fun. To this end, we’ve described the attire as “black tie by decade – 1970 to present,” which will give our guests plenty of latitude to interpret their sartorial selections with the same creativity TACA brings to its work on behalf of the arts. Whether it’s a vintage Halston from the 1970s or a brand new creation by your favorite designer, you’ll look smashing on September 8.

TACA believes in the power of art to transform lives, and it has been unfaltering in its commitment to the arts for five decades. Our 50th anniversary gala is a celebration of the past as well as a commitment to the arts community for the next fifty years.

Joining me in planning this festive gala are the co-chairs, who are the entire TACA 50th Anniversary Committee members.

Tickets start at $500, and sponsorships are available. Contact Cassidy Pinkston  [email protected] or 214.520.3926, or visit  http://www.taca-arts.org/.

* Photo provided by TACA

JUST IN: Wanda Gierhart And Dean Fearing To Co-Chair TACA 50th Anniversary Gala

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart (File photo)

Former Neiman Marcus exec Wanda Gierhart and her fiancé/chef extraordinaire “Dean of Food” Fearing are quite a twosome. Back in 2014, their official joint-project debut was the TACA Custom Auction and what a night it was. The front row was filled with art-loving philanthropists with names like Carlson, Hobson and Brierley.

So, when Wanda, who is chairing TACA’s 50th anniversary year celebration, decided that she would roll up her silk sleeves and chair the black-tie TACA 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, September 8, at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, she sorta got nostalgic and brilliant. She drafted Dean to co-chair it with her.

As for the auction itself, don’t expect dozens of items up for bid. Word has it that it’s going to a very limited number and they’ll be very special.

BTW, the years that Wanda was in charge of curating the auction items were years that brought some very platinum paddles competing for the final bids. ‘Twas great sightseeing!

MySweet2017Goals: Dean Fearing

Dean Fearing (File photo)

According to “The Father of Southwestern Cuisine” Dean Fearing,

My 2017 New Year’s Goal is to enjoy the things I have in life more!”

Nonprofit Supporters/Beauts Former Neiman’s Taste Guru Wanda Gierhart And Primo Chef Dean Fearing Announce Their Engagement

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing (File photo)

Christmas love was definitely in the air! Way too adorable nonprofit supporters former Neiman Marcus arbiter-of-good-taste Wanda Gierhart and man-of-legendary-taste Chef Dean Fearing got engaged Christmas Day.

While we’re still waiting to hear when the two will get hitched, you just know it’s gonna be a catered affair.

According to the bridegroom-to-be, “No date yet – Wanda is enjoying the ring first!!!!”

One of the first hurdles facing the newly engageds is telling Queenie she can’t be the flower girl.

Park’s Park And Palate Will Have Even More Food And Fun For The Klyde Warren Fundraiser On October 21 And 22

Jody and Sheila Grant (File photo)

Jody and Sheila Grant (File photo)

When Sheila and Jody Grant took on the project of creating a park over Woodall Rodgers freeway, many thought they had pushed the dream envelope. But dang it, they pulled it off. Now Klyde Warren Park is the year-round place to play, dine and celebrate the coming together of Dallas downtown and uptown neighborhoods.

But Sheila’s and Jody’s involvement did end with the ribbon cutting. They’re just as giddy today as they were on the opening night when Owen Wilson and Jackie Evancho were among the celebrants back on October 24, 2012.

Jackie Evancho (File photo)

Jackie Evancho (File photo)

As proof of this commitment, Sheila just reported that she’ll be flying in from the American Ballet Theater performance in the David H Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22, Park and Palate, the annual Klyde Warren Park fundraiser. This year’s two-day food-athon is being co-chairs Carolyn and Robert Walters along with Lyn and John Muse and title sponsors Republic National Distributing Corporation and Central Market.

Hopefully, Sheila has her ticket for Friday night’s “Down To The Roots” because it’s already sold out. However, tickets are still available for the 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. “Grand Taste” on Saturday.

Kent Rathbun (File photo)

Kent Rathbun (File photo)

Dean Fearing (File photo)

Dean Fearing (File photo)

John Tesar (File photo)

John Tesar (File photo)

Headlining the food fest will be locals Kent Rathbun, John Tesar and Dean Fearing as well as San Antonio’s Jason Dady.

Klyde Warren Park (File photo)

Klyde Warren Park (File photo)

As for the chefs who will be cooking up a storm on Friday night, they’ll include Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks, Jill Bates of Fearing’s, Tyson Cole of uchi, Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurant Group, Robert Del Grande of Café Annie, Dean Fearing of Fearing’s, Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie, Sharon Hage of Sharon Hage Farm to Fork Consulting, Brian Johnson of Central Market, Molly McCook of Ellerbe Fine Foods, Kyle Nelson of Central Market, Michael Thomson of Michael’s Cuisine and Ancho Chile Bar, Julie Vorce of Savor Gastropub and Hugo Ortega of Backstreet Café, Hugo’s and Caracol.

And things only ramp up for Saturday with loads and loads of chef cooking up a storm including Jeff Balfour of Southerleigh, Melody Bishop of Lark on the Park, Richard Blankenship of CBD Provisions, Nilton Borges Jr. of The Joule Hotel, John Brand of Supper, Jermaine Brown of Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine, John Coleman of Savor Gastropub, Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurant Group, Ross Demers of On the Lamb, Brandon Drew of The Pyramid at the Fairmont Hotel, David Fingerman of Madrina, Omar Flores of Casa Rubia, Diego Galicia of Mixtli Progressive Mexican Culinaria, Nick Hurry of Proof and Pantry, Dennis Kelley of Lark on the Park, Brian Johnson of Central Market, Geronimo Lopez of Botika, Brian Luscher of Luscher’s Red Hots and The Grape, Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, Andrea Meyer of Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie, Suki Otsuki of Mudhen Meat and Greens, Kent Rathbun, Timothy Rattray of The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, Justin Richardson of Brigid, Joe Scigliano of Savor Gastropub, Philip Speer of Bonhomie, Shuji Sugawara of Shinsei, John Tesar of Knife, Rico Torres of Mixtli Progressive Mexican Culinaria, Julie Vorce of Savor Gastropub, Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo and Chicon, Nicholas Yanes of Juniper and more.

P.S — Park and Palate is an adults-only event. But there will still be “lots of free, family-friendly activities on the East Lawn during Park and Palate, including fitness classes, games, food trucks, music and more!”

TACA Custom Auction Gala Package #9: Front Row At The Bruce Wood Dance Gallery

Dallas’ Bruce Wood was nationally known for his choreography. He was known for having “an aesthetic that set his work apart. He drew his subject matter from human nature, distilling the ups and downs, and the loves and the losses of daily life into pieces that range from dramatic to comic, compassionate to hilarious, psychological to pedestrian.” With his untimely death in May 2014, there was great concern about his legacy. But Bruce Wood Dance Project President/Producer Gayle Halperin used Bruce’s inspiration to continue on. One of the results was the creation of the Bruce Wood Dance Gallery that Theater Jones described as “a cozy and atmospheric space” in the Dallas Design District.

For the TACA Custom Auction Gala, a performance at the Gallery will be presented along with a menu created by Texas’ favorite boot-scootin’ Chef Dean Fearing.

Like the Farm-To-Table, this very special event will be sold to 30 couples, so when it hits the auction bloc, raise those paddles high.

Front Row At The Bruce Wood Dance Gallery* (Value: $725 per couple**)

Front Row At The Bruce Wood Dance Gallery*

Front Row At The Bruce Wood Dance Gallery***

Experience an exclusive private performance on Friday, February 24, of select dance works curated by local dance maven and Bruce Wood Dance Project President Gayle Halperin, all while enjoying signature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres prepared by the “Father of Southwestern Cuisine,” Chef Dean Fearing.

  • Private performance featuring local dance artists at the Bruce Wood Dance Gallery in the Dallas Design District
  • Menu created and prepared by Chef Dean Fearing
* Courtesy of Fearing’s Restaurant and Gayle Halperin 
** Only sold in pairs, limited to 30 couples 
*** Photo provided by TACA

2016 TACA Custom Auction Gala Co-Chairs Dianne And Mark LaRoe Host Kick-Off Party With Cool Jazz, Patron Tequila And Big Swan

Dianne and Mark Laroe

Dianne and Mark Laroe

It was a first for TACA. The performing arts organization held a kick-off party for its annual TACA Custom Auction Gala on Thursday, June 2. The location for the KO, attended by about 60 guests, was 2016 Custom Auction Gala Co-Chairs Dianne and Mark Laroe’s ultra-cool Bluffview home.

With the Eric Willis Trio performing equally cool music, Dianne recalled that when she and Mark hardly had two coins to rub together, they started collecting art. There was only one caveat. If one of the twosome wasn’t thrilled about a piece, it was a deal killer.

Eric Willis

Eric Willis

One piece that was a standout was the huge white inflatable swan floating in the pool. No, it wasn’t one of the Laroes’ pieces of art. It was a gift from the Laroes’ daughter-in-law. Dianne loved it so much, she asked for a black swan for her birthday.

Another eye catcher grabbing attention was the display of Patron in the dining room. Patron State Manager Justin Erickson explained that tequila was expanding its use by being included in Starlight Sangria and Silver Sling. In other words, tequila is no longer just for margaritas and shot glasses. And Patron is going to make its presence known at TACA’s black tie event at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek on Friday, September 23. Makes sense since Patron Spirits Company and Mark’s Deutsche Bank Wealth Management will be the presenting sponsors.

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing (File photo)

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing (File photo)

Other news revealed that Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing will be the honorary co-chairs and Rachel Michell will be auction chair.

Hal and Diane Brierley (File photo)

Hal and Diane Brierley (File photo)

Lee Cobb and Lucilo Pena (File photo)

Lee Cobb and Lucilo Pena (File photo)

The host committee will be made up Purvi and Bill Albers, Heather and Scott Alexander, Laura and Michael Bashour, Diane and Hal Brierley, Faye C. Briggs, Marsha Cameron and Michael Halloran, Nancy and Clint Carlson, Connie and Denny Carreker, Lee Cobb and Lucilo Peña, Garry Cox and Don McDermett, Barbara and Don Daseke, Barbara and Steven Durham, Gwen and Leldon Echols, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Nicholas Even, Cindy and Charles Feld, Carmaleta and Otis Felton, Tracy Fitz, Andrea Gates, Carol and Don Glendenning, Dawn and Tobin Grove, Gayle and Jim Halperin, Robert Hernandez, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Linda and Steve Ivy, Joe and Louise LaManna, Tara Lewis and John Swords, Holly and Tom Mayer, Lynn and Allan McBee, Rachel and John Michell, Geraldine “Tincy,” Miller, Deborah and Jim Nugent, Leah and Jim Pasant, Carrie and Anthony Scotti, Peggy and Carl Sewell Jr., Marlene and John Sughrue, Courtney and Ed Tauriac, Zannie and Glenn Voss, Karen and Jim Wiley, Donna Wilhelm and Katherine Wynne.

Tara Lewis (File photo)

Tara Lewis (File photo)

Nick Even (File photo)

Nick Even (File photo)

Katherine Wynn (File photo)

Katherine Wynne (File photo)


TACA Custom Auction Gala #8: Outstanding In The(ir) Fields

Only TACA could bring together two leaders in diverse fields together for the benefit of the performing arts. So, this package allows Dallas dance maven Gayle Halperin with legendary Chef Dean Fearing to provide a feast* for the eye and the tummy. No, Dean will not be dancing and Gayle won’t be cooking, but the two of them are combining their talents for this one-of-a-kind package for the TACA Custom Auction Gala.

Outstanding In The(ir) Fields** (Value: Priceless)

Following the death of Dallas’ dance wunderkind Bruce Wood, Gayle Halperin became a driving force to continue his legacy. After all it was Gayle who “approached Wood about restarting the Bruce Wood Dance Project and moving to Dallas in 2011.” Following Bruce’s death, she spearheaded the effort to create Dallas DanceFest with its debut in August 2014 and an encore this past September 4-6 at Dallas City Performance Hall featuring 20 companies over three days.

Dean Fearing (File photo)

Dean Fearing (File photo)

The winner of this TACA Custom Auction package will host a private performance of “dance works curated” by Gayle for six couples at the new Bruce Wood Dance Gallery located in the Design District.

Following the presentation, the guests will no doubt be hungry for food and to discuss the evening’s program. No ordinary meal could be served up. Instead it will art-loving, “Father of Southwestern Cuisine” Chef Dean Fearing. The world-famous chef will provide a multi-course dinner.

* Dates to be mutually agreed upon. 
** Courtesy of Fearing's Restaurant and Gayle Halperin


MySweet2015Goal: Dean Fearing

According to The Ritz-Carlton Chef extraordinaire Dean Fearing,

Dean Fearing (File photo)

Dean Fearing (File photo)

“My main goal for the New Year is to be better in everything I do which is a very large field and I have a lot of work to do – no more goofing off on this matter!!!”

Cattle Baron’s Ball Live Auction Item: Barbecue With Dallas’ Finest Gentlemen Chefs

The boys are back and they’re bringing their grills. For 20 years Richard Chamberlain, Dean Fearing, Kevin Garvin, David Holben, Kent Rathbun and Jim Severson have provided one of the ultimate favorite live auction items. Maybe that’s why this package alone has raised more than $1.7M over the years at the Cattle Baron’s Ball.

Barbecue With Dallas’ Finest Gentlemen Chefs (Value: Priceless)

Barbecue With Dallas' Finest Gents*

Barbecue With Dallas’ Finest Gentlemen Chefs*

This year’s feast is not for the doily set. It’s an over-the-top barbecue. The winner gets to pick the spot — their home, their ranch, their lake house, whatever. Then the winner will join “the barbecue boys” in creating the menu and joining in the behind-the-scenes fun. If you’ve ever seen these six in action, you just know there’s a lot of talent and personality. Any one of them would be enough, but six!

While it’s doubtful that hot dogs and burgers will be on the menu, but who knows? When it comes to this group, they just might put a new twist to it.

As for the guest list, that’s up to the winner. They’ll have a devil of a time coming up with the 30 because they’ll suddenly discover they have loads of BFF’s, who love barbecue and spirits.

And for since safety is key to any successful event, the guests will be transported to and from the party thanks to Wynne Transportation.

Here’s a thought: If you’re the winner, have somebody video tape you grilling with the boys because nobody will ever believe barbecuing could be so much fun.

Donated by: Kent Rathbun, Dean Fearing, Jim Severson, David Holben, Kevin Garvin, Richard Chamberlain and Wynne Transportation

Graphic provided by Cattle Baron's Ball

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Was A Stellar Success Despite Broken Promises

Despite problems behind the scenes, the TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction came off with paddles hoisted, elegantly clad bidders and a meal fit for the pickiest food critic on Friday, September 26.

And what were the problems? More about them later.

The evening was spectacularly perfect for a black-tie, night-out-on-the-town. Hotel guests at the Mansion must have thought Dallasites spend every night in Armani, Herrera and the usual couture suspects. The 339 TACA types looked so marvelously at home in tuxedos and gowns. Oh, but just because they looked knock-out-terrific, it didn’t mean a fortune was spent on clothing. One gal whispered, “Mine cost $20 but don’t tell.” Sorry, but you’ll just have to wonder who she was.

Once past the check-in, the crowd gathered in the Promenade and newly refreshed Pavilion Ballroom. Among them were nine former gala chairs including Susan Collins, who chaired the very first one a while back.

Mike and Pebble McGehee

Mike and Pebble McGehee

Newlyweds Pebble and Mike McGehee were asked how long they had been hitched. Pebble said, “About a month.” Mike followed up with, “27 days.”

Erin Mathews and Russ Davis

Erin Mathews and Russ Davis

Among the Allie Beth Allman crowd were Carol McBride, Doris and Jack Jacobs, Erin Mathews and Russ Davis and, of course Allie Beth and husband Pierce, who was scheduled to discuss his coverage of the Kennedy assassination at the Sixth Floor Museum on October 4.

Former retailer types Erin and Russ proved they still knew their stuff. When asked what they were wearing, Erin reported Jason Woo and Russ add that his tuxedo was by Canali.

Hal Brierley and friend

Hal Brierley and friend

On the other hand, Hal Brierley’s tuxedo was taking a backseat to his newest accessory. Instead of the crutches that he had at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala, he was using a snazzy cane courtesy of Frank Risch.

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing

Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing

Custom Auction Co-Chairs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing evidently had made quite a team in putting things together. Someone asked Dean to predict the evening’s take. His response: “Big money!” He added that he saw a lot of new faces in the crowd bringing a new energy to the event. Where did they come from? Wanda piped in with a smile, “Our friends.”

As the champagne flowed, the crowd grew to capacity including Honorary Co-Chairs Ann and Lee Hobson, TACA Chairman of the Board Nancy Carlson and her husband Clint (Lady Nancy will be chairing the Dallas Museum of Art’s 2015 Art Ball), Rebecca and Barron Fletcher, Margo and Jim Keyes, Lauryn Gayle and Tom White, Roslyn Dawson Thompson and Rex Thompson, Donna Wilhelm, Cattle Baron’s Co-Chair Jill Tananbaum, Lucian “Food & Wine Ambassador for DFW” LaBarba, Dolph Haas, Carol and Don Glendening, Carol Reed, Chris Heinbaugh, Katherine and Chris LaLonde, Carrie and Andy Teller, Lucilo Pena, Lee Cobb, Barbara and Don Daseke, Patrick Chen, Shannon Brame, Faye Briggs, Ralph Gorman, Nick Even, Lynn and Allan McBee, Christina and Allen White, Jodie and Billy Payton, Lisa and Bill Ogle and Laree and Ben Fischer, who were headed to Mexico for the Dallas Contemporary tour.

Just as it seemed there was not one iota of space left, the magical call-to-chow-down-chimes were heard sounding through the rooms.

In the King Shepard Suite, new TACA Board Member Jay Oppenheimer officially welcomed the guests, despite one table’s chatter. He joked, “I think they asked me to do this because I have a big mouth.” The chatter ended.

And speaking of mouths, they were enjoying the menu created by Rosewood Mansion Chef Bruno Davaillon. For those who had not read their menu card, the first course was a surprise. It looked like chunks of watermelons atop a clear gelatin. Instead their first bite resulted in eyes wide open. It was ahi tuna in a gazpacho gelee with radish, croutons and tonnato sauce. Even those who may have been sour on raw fish were very pleased.

The entrée of beef tenderloin was four fingers high and a clinched fist wide. It was accompanied by chickpea fries, zucchini tapenade and smoked Fresno reduction.

Arm-in-arm, the co-chair team of WanDean visited each table like they’d been hosting for years.

As for dessert, the smiling guests toddled to the Promenade, where Nicholas Blouin had prepared a dessert buffet that would have sent Willy Wonka into a coma — black current lavender macron, manzana cake, choux vanilla raspberry, pina colada glass, chocolate hazelnut composition and chocolate mint moon pie. Needless to say, there was absolutely no nutritional chart posted. How lovely to dessert without guilt!

 Joe Sage, Alexis Sage and Gillian Breidenbach

Joe Sage, Alexis Sage and Gillian Breidenbach

The guests eventually took their places for the live auction. There were designated chairs for hopefully big spenders. For the rest, it was standing and gawking as the paddles rose. Within that fray of non-seaters was automotive-type Joe Sage, who was with his SMU daughter Alexis and gal pal Gillian Breidenbach. The car wheeler-dealer was such a tease. As certain items came up for bid that caught Alexis’ eye, his paddle rose but it wasn’t the final one up.

Andrew McVinish

Andrew McVinish

Alas, auctioneer Christie’s Aussie auctioneer Andrew McVinish didn’t get off to a shiny start. One person grumbled that he “sorta” insulted the locals. Ah, heck! Australians are just an ocean away from being Yanks! He was just joshing.

Other priceless moments were former TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Co-Chairs Kit and Kemp Sawers modeling the Chanel watches.

Here were the results with no final bids (sorry, IRS, if you were looking):

  • Canyon Ranch package — Diane Brierley
  • Leah Pasant

    Leah Lacey Pasant

    Aspen Food and Wine Festival — Leah Lacey Pasant

  • Ann and Lee Hobson

    Ann and Lee Hobson

    Wine Cellar Dinner with DSO — Ann and Lee Hobson

  • Chanel and Paris watches — Patrick Chen
  • Staycation — Diane and Hal Brierley
  • New York Fashion Week — Shannon Brame
  • Lee Hobson, Nancy and Clint Carlson

    Lee Hobson and Nancy and Clint Carlson

    Outstanding in The Field — Clint Carlson

  • Golf and Spa Retreat in California — Tom Klein
  • Private Dinner With Parsons Dance company — Wanda Gierhart
  • Rock Out in Cabo San Lucas — Dave Cook
  • Dean Fearing, Wanda Gierhart and Diane and Hal Brierley

    Dean Fearing, Wanda Gierhart and Diane and Hal Brierley

    Around the World With Rosewood — Hal Brierley

  • Farm-To-Table Dinner — 30 couples at $750 per couple

Part of the fun was just watching the couples nudge or give the raised eyebrow to their partners on how high to bid.

Oh, jeez! You’re still hanging in there waiting for the behind-the-scenes situation. Not to worry. This isn’t one of those TMZ moments. So, just calm down. It wasn’t somebody sleeping with someone.

Instead it seems that a relatively new member of the TACA staff who was to coordinate the event and the auction packages, had merrily led all to believe that everything was copacetic in the months leading up to the big fundraiser. Less than three weeks before the auction, it was learned that despite her assurances, some of the items just didn’t exist. Adding to the brouhaha, the outside event producer hadn’t even been hired after all.

When confronted, she said she was very sorry but it was true.

TACA execs were sorry, too, as they handed her a pink slip, showed her the door and went into uber overdrive to pull the auction and event together.

Thanks to TACA’s reputation, a proven staff and loyal board/supporters, the event came off with lots of smiles and money for the performing arts.

TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction Item #1: Farm-To-Table Dinner

The TACA RBC Wealth Management Custom Auction’s Farm-To-Table Dinner is a favorite. But this year, they’ve put a spin on it. And, what a spin it is! This one will be like none in the past and may never happen again.

Farm-To-Table (File photo)

Farm-To-Table Dinner* (Value: $30,000)

To some, they might seem like the odd couple. One is an outgoing, clean-shavened blonde who has worked for two the world’s most famous luxury hotels. The other is a brunette with trim facial hair, who prefers to quietly chat with others. He’s been his own man opening a number of well-known restaurants throughout Dallas. Both have been James Beard Award Winners; both have authored well-received cookbooks; both have been dedicated to locally produced resources; and both shared in the creation of Southwestern cuisine a couple of decades ago.

Stephan Pyles (File photo)

Stephan Pyles (File photo)

Dean Fearing (File photo)

Dean Fearing (File photo)

They are Chef Dean Fearing and Chef Stephan Pyles.

For the past 20 years, the two best friends have both experienced reputations that have only grown in stature. But, alas, they haven’t had the opportunity to partner up on a menu. This auction package ends that dry spell. For 30 couples, the twosome will prepare a three-course meal in the pastures of Lavon Farms in Plano. The chefs will “use all of their top resources for the best local farm ingredients.”

And, of course, a great meal is only enhanced by great music. So, Obscure Dignitaries will be providing the sound effects.

Farm-To-Table bidding (File photo)

But remember — This one is limited to 30 couples and will be going to $1,000 per couple. The Mansion ballroom will be fluttering with paddles when this one goes on the auction bloc. Get yours up fast!

* Courtesy of Dean Fearing, Stephan Pyles and Lavon Farms