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

Symphony Of Chefs Top Rollers Celebrated The Stellar Chefs Who Will Be Cooking Up A Storm Tableside For The KidLinks Fundraiser

The crowd that gathered on Tuesday, January 31, at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel had an agenda. They were there to not just celebrate the cast of chefs for the annual Symphony of Chefs fundraiser. They also had their sights set on selecting the chef who would be cooking up a storm for the Monday, February 27th KidLinks‘ fundraiser at Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station. Here’s a report from the field:

When your chef talent includes a James Beard award winner, Bravo TV Top Chef Alumni, a guy who recently “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network and three World Master Chefs, that calls for a celebration. On Tuesday, January 31, at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel’s new City View and City View Terrace, that’s exactly what the North Texas-based non-profit KidLinks did. Celebrating the upcoming Monday, February 27th Symphony of Chefs culinary dining experience at Union Station, sponsors and chefs were treated to a wine tasting by 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery, cocktails featuring Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège and fare provided by the culinary team of the Renaissance Dallas lead by Executive Chef Frank Quant and including participating Sous Chef Steven Torbron of Asador. 

But that wasn’t the only purpose for the party. Perhaps by circumstance or even with intention just in time for Super Bowl LI, guests were treated to a draft style pairing where they were able to select their seated dinner chef. The Symphony of Chefs features an array of notable culinary talent including a set of rising star chefs who will prepare hors d’oeuvres, 22 chefs who will cook a four-course cocktail and wine paired dinner table-side and another set of pastry chefs preparing a decadent dessert reception.

Marc and Bonnie Shea, Jeremy Lock and D’Andra Simmons Lock and Marc and Georgia Lyons*

As Honorary Chairs D’Andra Simmons-Lock and husband Jeremy Lock along with Event Co-Chairs Georgia and Marc Lyons and Bonnie and Nathan Shea greeted guests upon arrival, the room swelled with talks of each chefs’ menu available for preview. Chefs Uno Immanivong from Chino Chinatown, John Kleifgen from Nick and Sam’s Park Cities and Yutaka Yamato from Yutaka Sushi Bistro were in attendance. Even Gorji from Canary by Gorji was present, having sent an email earlier in the day stating that his Addison-based restaurant would be closed for the evening so that he could personally attend the party.

Sherry Gritch and Gorji**

As Jane McGarry took to the microphone and began with introductions and sponsor thank you’s, it was apparent that the crowd was anxiously awaiting their opportunity to select their favorite chef. The first set of sponsors to select their chefs were, of course, Presenting Sponsors Mason and Allen Custard, Emily and Bruce Robson and Kaari and James Wicklund. With a charming story about their 20+ year connection to Richard Chamberlain, Kaari and James Wicklund made the first pick of the evening, which was then followed by their second selection, Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse Executive Chef Robert James Clifford. The evening continued with Chef Tiffany Derry of The Cupboard by Tiffany Derry being selected by Cristi and Kevin Ryan, with Barbara and Jeffrey Adelglass then selecting Chef Francesco Farris of Zio Cecio.

James Wicklund, Robert James Clifford and Kaari Wicklund*

New Dallas transplant Josh Healy of Filament was scooped up by Tracy and Jeff Hull and long-time supporter and KidLinks board member JW Brown and wife Ann selected private celebrity chef Kevin Ashade (the chef who recently beat Bobby Flay). With over 22 chefs participating in the upcoming event, the evening wrapped with emcee Jane McGarry noting in her final comments that only 20 seats remained for this exclusive dinner.  

Kevin Ashade and Ann and JW Brown*

As guests departed with their Sewell gift bag in hand, you could hear the excitement as they left the building knowing that the chef they selected would make their evening at the Symphony of Chefs memorable. Now it was time to decide who they would invite to sit at their table, a much more daunting task for some.

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

* Photo credit: Travis Lilley 
** Photo credit: Thomas Garza

2017 Symphony Of Chefs Kick-Off Party Revealed A New Logo And Some Additions To the KidLinks Fundraiser

D’Andra Simmons Lock and Jeremy Lock were very busy the first week in November in the Turtle Creek hood. First there was the Cancer Blows Kick-Off Party on Tuesday, November 1, at Ashley Tatum‘s and Newt Walker‘s mansion on the east side of Turtle Creek. That’s when  the CB Co-Chair Locks announced official plans for the May 8-10th event.

Then just a couple of days later the twosome were on the other side of “the Creek” at Vinette and Mike Montgomery‘s home-sweet-home for the kick-off party for KidLinks’ Symphony of Chefs, which they’ll be honorary co-chairing. Here’s a report from the field:

D'Andra Simmons Lock and Diana Crawford*

D’Andra Simmons Lock and Diana Crawford*

Fresh off the heels of the CancerBlows Kick-Off, Symphony of Chefs Honorary Co-Chairs D’Andra Simmons-Lock and Jeremy Lock joined friends and supporters on Thursday, November 3, at Vinette and Mike Montgomery’s Highland Park home for the 7th Annual Symphony of Chefs Kick-Off Party. Benefiting the music therapy non-profit KidLinks, the fundraising event will take place on Monday, February 27, at the newly named Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station, Symphony of Chefs.

Debbie Murphy, Bonnie and Nathan Shea*

Debbie Murphy, Bonnie and Nathan Shea*

As guests including Dee Simmons, Ashley Berges, Regina Bruce, Sandy Sule, Aneeta Goomar, Doris Jacobs, Debbie Murphy, Nathan Shea and Kimberly Alexander mingled in the backyard of the Montgomery’s home overlooking the Dallas Country Club and the sun began to set, emcee Jane McGarry took the mic to introduce two of the Event Chair duos, Bonnie Shea and Marc Lyons

Sandy Sule and Aneeta Goomar*

Sandy Sule and Aneeta Goomar*

Marc Lyons*

Marc Lyons*

Bonnie and Mark shared the duties of providing remarks thanking a host of sponsors and partners for their support of the kick-off including SweetBeat Vodka and 4R Ranches’ Willem Johnson, who selected the Empson USA Inc. wines served on the night. They also spoke of their connection to KidLinks and the power and impact that music therapy has among children and families in hospitals. For them it was a personal connection and the reaction of seeing a child’s life changed through the power of music. And what better way to bring the love of music together with a great meal raising money for KidLinks.

After sharing their stories it was on to the unveiling of the new logo design, which shone brightly on the cobblestone among the onlookers. Chief Executive Officer Diana Crawford reiterated words of appreciation to attendees and shared statistics on the importance of music therapy entertainment announcing that KidLinks was not impacting the DFW market but because of their online network of low-cost, free content available through HugWorks, they would be able to reach and impact children worldwide.

Symphony Of Chefs logo*

Symphony Of Chefs logo*

As the speeches came to a close and with references to the definition of a symphony, Jane introduced several changes to the 7th annual event. These changes included adding a mixology themed cocktail reception featuring rising star chefs, a four-course wine-paired dining experience where chefs would cook at the table for 10 guests followed by a decadent dessert reception paired with port and after-dinner cocktails. She went on to announce a partial list of committed chefs including Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” alumni Tiffany Derry, Asador Restaurants’ Brad Phillips, Madrina’s David Fingerman and Proof+Pantry’s Nick Hurry with many more to be announced in the coming weeks. Finally she announced just one of the pastry chefs who would create the dessert course — former Rosewood Mansion pastry chef Gianni Santin.

As the night came to a close, 5 of the 20 available tables had been sold, leaving just 15 left. Guests were encouraged to confirm their sponsorships, tables and tickets (at $1,000 per seat) soon because the event would be a sell-out.

For more information about KidLinks and the Symphony of Chefs evening of culinary composition visit www.thekidlinks.org.

* Photo credit: Thomas Garza

“Symphony Of Chefs” Was A Delicious Evening Of Music And Meals Prepared Tableside For KidLinks Foundation

Chef Aaron Valmont*

Chef Aaron Valmont*

The KidLinks Foundation’s fourth annual “Symphony of Chefs” on Monday, February 24, at the Hilton Anatole turned out to be a sold-out affair. No wonder. The 20 tables of 10 guests enjoyed a five-course dinner. Not impressed? Well, what if you learned that each table had its own chef preparing the meal tableside? Yup, the chefs — Chef André Bedouret, Chef Anthony Van Camp, Chef Brad Phillips (Asador), Chef Ralph Fernandez (Bent Tree Country Club), Chef David Sokol and Pastry Chef Michele Brown (both of Brook Hollow Golf Club), Chef Aaron Valimont (The Capital Grille), Chef Pete Nolasco (Chef Pete Catering), Chef John Franke (Front Burner Restaurants including Velvet Taco and Whiskey Cake), Chef Gianni Santin (Haute Sweet Patisserie), Executive Chef Tom Welther (Hilton Anatole Hotel), Chef Nathan Burke (Nathan Burke Caterer), Chef Michael Scott (Northwood Country Club), Chef John Klein and Chef David Pacheco (both of Restaurant 506 at the Sanford House), Chef Kyle Jones (Truluck’s), Chef James Pettus (Urban Crust Wood Fired Pizza), Chef Fernando Torres (Urban Rio), Chef Jerrett Joslin (Wild Mushroom Steak House and Lounge), Chef Yutaka Yamato (Yutaka Japanese Bistro) and Chef Francesco Farris (Zio Cecio Cucina Italiana) — were hustling up the meal while members of the Dallas Chamber Symphony played. The only chef MIA was Felipe Gaytan of Flavor of Passion Awards, due to illness.

From the left (front row): Melissa and Mark Fuqua, Annie and Randy Click, Liz Pitcher and Linda Kerner; middle row: David Hopson, Chef Michele Brown, Chef Andre Bedouret, Chef David Sokol, Chef Gianni Santin, Chef Michael Scott, Mary Louis Hopson, Andy Kener, Chef Yutaka Yamato, Chef Hiroshi Kimoto, Chef Denny Mclain and Eric Pitcher*

From the left (front row): Melissa and Mark Fuqua, Annie and Randy Click, Liz Pitcher and Linda Kerner; middle row: David Hopson, Chef Michele Brown, Chef Andre Bedouret, Chef David Sokol, Chef Gianni Santin, Chef Michael Scott, Mary Louis Hopson, Andy Kener, Chef Yutaka Yamato, Chef Hiroshi Kimoto, Chef Denny Mclain and Eric Pitcher*

Event Co-Chairs Summer and Jeff Olmstead and Bonnie and Nathan Shea arranged for several of the chefs to offer  a “private, in-home dining experience” in a live auction.

Jeff and Summer Olmstead and Randy Mardean Olmstead*

Jeff and Summer Olmstead and Randy Mardean Olmstead*

All the evening’s proceeds will “directly fund several DFW music therapy programs for children that are critically ill or have developmental delays. These groups include Children’s Medical Center Music Therapy Program, SMU/Hugworks Music Therapy Program, and Cook Children’s Medical Center.”

* Photo credit: Larry Sengbush