Finally, Mother Nature proved she could be kind on Friday, May 6. Following off-and-on days of wavering temps, hail, thunder and skies filled with frightening light shows, the skies cleared and breezes flowed at user-friendly speeds. At the Mansion on Turtle Creek, the TACA Lexus Party On The Green (POG) VIP types discovered that the auto courtyard was just that. Instead of being commandeered for cooking chefs and staging for bands and dancing, it had valets receiving and giving out cars for guests of TACA’s 10th annual POG.
Guests were directed to the side parking area for the check-in and the tented start-up partying. TACA Executive Director Becky Young greeted one and all and raised her eyes to heaven with a big, old smile. She recalled past POGs that had survived tornado alerts and rainstorms. Yes, the weather was indeed playing nice.
The partying had hardly started then the tent was filled to capacity, with the fallout spilling onto the terraces and throughout the hotel’s public rooms, where more cooking and sipping was in full swing. And while all 600 were there to graze, sip and support the performing arts, there was a definite division in the ranks on what to wear.
Some opted for the bare shoulder look (POG Chair Tierney Kaufman Hutchins, Diane Brierley, Debra Nelson, Kristen Sanger, Elizabeth Tripplehorn Laurenzi, Lisas Cooley and Ogle, Jody Payton, Tiffany Divis, Nancy Gopez, Christy Coltrin, Debbie Horres, Michel Hagood and D’Andra Simmons Lock).
Others went for light cotton (Ann Hobson, Brad Oldham, Barbara Daseke, Paul Divis, Ron Corning, Jo Staffelbach Heinz, Shane Allen, Amy Green and Jeremy Lock).
And still some went totally floral silks (Dee Simmons, Phyllis Comu, Natalie Westbrook and Mary Ann Cree).
And, of course, there were ever-proper jacket/open-shirt types (emcee Bill Ogle, Jared Hutchins, Andre Staffelbach, Clay Cooley, Ladd Sanger, Alex Laurenzi, David Cash, John Bowden and Billy Payton).
But the most popular attire of the night was the chef’s jacket that was being worn by the 22 participating chefs: Nick Amoriello of Kitchen LTO, Fidel Baeza of Rosewood Mayakoba, Edgar Beas of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, Blythe Beck of Pink Magnolia, Nicolas Blouin of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Matt Dallman and Scott Gottlich of 18th and Vine, Graham Dodds of Wayward Sons, Enrico Figliuolo of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Mervin Friday of Rosewood Crescent, Lisa Garza-Selcer of Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and Bar and Lisa Garza Taste Studio, Jared Harms of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Mathew Ingersoll of The Capital Grille, Brian Luscher of The Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots, Matt McCallister of FT33 and Filament, Danyele McPherson of Remedy and HG Sply Co., Victor Palma of Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Stephen Rogers of Gemma, Peter Rudolph of Rosewood Sand Hill, Abraham Salum of Salum, Michael Scott of Rosewood Ranches Wagyu Beef, Braden and Yasmin Wages of Malai Kitchen and Devadip Zahar of Rosewood Las Ventanas.
Needless to say, the competition was hot and delicious. But the coterie of judges (Dallas Morning News’ Leslie Brenner, D Magazine’s Catherine Downes and Modern Luxury’s Kristie Ramirez) had the challenge to pick the best dish of the night for the 2016 Golden Skillet Award. After sampling each of the dishes, the winner was Lisa’s sassafras braised lamb shank with blue corn cake, poached quail eggs and pickled ramps rye cracker.
But still there were a couple who came so close, like Fidel (Caribbean tres leches: passion fruit sponge cake, traditional tres leches syrup, mango and guava) and Stephen (jumbo lump crab with spring vegetables, cashews and Thai vinaigrette), who both earned honorable mentions.
And while longtime POG Chef Brian admitted weeks ago that he just knew he would not achieve his goal of the Golden Skillet, he was on a stool still recovering from foot surgery. The bad news is that Brian was right. He didn’t get the Goldie Pan. The good news was he won the very first ever People’s Choice Award for his spiced pork, rillettes, pickled grapes, grainy mustard and pumpernickel toast. This award, along with voting via cellphone, was a new development for the annual TACA fundraiser thanks to Tierney. And, of course, there was the traditional wine cork pull and raffle for a shiny new Lexus.