Back in the “old days,” Helen Corbitt ruled Neiman Marcus Downtown’s Zodiac Room with a ladle in one hand and a raised eyebrow. The NM culinary queen was known for being as fussy about cuisine as Mr. Stanley was about customer service.
But over the decades, Helen retired to cook for the angels. The dining room, which had once featured zodiac symbols on the walls, crystal bowls filled with multi-colored sugar and countless birthday parties for well-mannered little girls in white socks and patent leather shoes, had been refreshed into a sleek restaurant.
On Thursday, November 21, the elegant 40-ish set gathered for the annual Vine and Dine. As the cocktail reception took place in the area outside the restaurant, Heritage Auction’s Mike Sadler went over the list of “absolute must have’s” that were going up for bid for the benefit of Ability Connection Texas.
So who all was in this chic crowd? How about Piper and Mike Wyatt (he was just back from a big trip to Brazil), Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner, Ability Connection Texas’ Bill Knudsen, Janie and David Donosky, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson, Muffin Lemak, Pam and Vin Perella, Mathew Simon and Keith Schumann, Pat and Charles McEvoy, Lynn McBee, Debbie and Jim Francis, Molly and Will Folse, Neva Hall and Tri-Chair Husbands Jim Lee, Brian Roughton and Michael Sills.
Thank heaven, word was passed just before 7 p.m., that it was dinner time. The squeeze factor in the lobby was getting too cozy for comfort. Shoot, it looked like they might spill into the adjacent Michael Flores Salon.
Since the fundraiser was based on divine wine and dining, Chefs Anita Hirsch and David Crow had prepared a fabulous feast including a first course of fresh ricotta ravioli, eggplant caponata, pine nuts, parmesan, pomodoro and crispy artichoke with 2011 Coquerel Verdelho; second course of porcini-rubbed grilled filet mignon, sautéed and braised savoy cabbage, Swiss chard roasted ciopolini and parmesan layered potatoes, Barolo demi-glace tomato sauce and stuffed herb mushrooms with 2010 Coquerel La Petite Sirah; and a dessert course of mascarpone and ricotta cheesecake, torta della nonna and chocolate zabaglione and biscotti with 2009 Coquerel La Douce Revanche Sauvignon Blanc.
But before the meal got too far along, Tri-Chairs DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Shelle Sills welcomed guests and their Honorary Chair Mary Clare Finney seated at the front table.
If Mary Clare thought her duties only meant lending her name and sitting pretty, wrong! She soon found herself as a model spotlighting some of the auction items like the Hermes H Hour Watch (value: $3,500) and Brioni Custom Suit (value: $6,455).
As Heritage Auction’s First Couple Linda and Steve Ivy watched, the bidding of valuables continued with Jack Woodworth showing off a Rolex watch (value: $7,550).
And so the incredible goodies like trips, couture handbags, cashmere stoles and marvelous Christmas gifts possibilities had hands raised throughout the room the rest of the evening.
No, the Zodiac Room may not have the zodiac symbols on the walls, but many of those little girls, who celebrated birthdays there, returned to fundraise and have grown-up fun on this night.
Please check MySweetCharity’s Photo Gallery for additional photos.