Area chefs like Tiffany Derry, Salvatore Gisellu, Sandra Bussey and Dunia Borga were cooking up a storm on Monday, February 26, at Sixty Five Hundred for “the sound of music.” The occasion was the KidLinks‘ annual Symphony of Chefs with Event Co-Chairs Vinette and Mike Montgomery to raise funds for music therapy. Needless to say, diets were checked at the door as guests enjoyed an evening of wining and dining. Here’s a report from the field:
Now that the smoked has cleared, literally, it’s apparent that the KidLinks Symphony of Chefs event is one of Dallas’ hidden charity culinary experiences that money can buy. On the last Monday of February, the ever-popular white box venue, Sixty Five Hundred was transformed into a culinary Mecca filled with the who’s who of chefs and an A-list of Dallas’ most notable philanthropists and oil and gas industry patrons all to enjoy a wine-paired four course meal prepared tableside.
The evening began with a cocktail reception where The Macallan tastings were being sampled and Roxor Artisan Gin cocktails were flowing. The sounds of a solo by Corey Breedlove could be heard over the crowd of 250 and guests were anxiously awaiting a reveal of the dining room to begin what KidLinks called their culinary journey. Chef Partner and newest addition to the DFW culinary scene, Justin Yoakum from Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Plano prepared two delicate passed hors d’oeuvres that if you blinked would have been missed. As the likes of charity maven Jolie Humphrey accompanied by her husband Bart Humphrey, Carmaleta Whiteley Felton and Otis Felton along with Karen and Mike Dollar joined event co-chairs and friends Vinette and Mike Montgomery you could feel the anticipation.
A boisterous laugh could be heard from Top Chef Alumni Tre Wilcox who was working the room but it was the voice from the sky that invited guests to finally enter the dining room.
Upon a reveal behind two green boxwood hedges flanked by a wall of sponsor signage, guests were chimed into the dining room where they were greeted by the wait staff of the newly developed Sásta. The on-demand staffing app from veteran agency owner Laura Beard of Laura’s Events was the perfect pairing for the night. Wine service began immediately, as it should have, as guests took their seats for their first courses. As sweet and savory aromas of seared duck and foie gras filled the air (along with some smoke from induction burners) guests sat down to a beautifully simple table setting created by the team at P.O.S.H Couture Rentals and WFAA’s Jane McGarry took the stage to give brief welcome. During her remarks she noted that over 40 wines from 8 regions had been donated by Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits D and E Fine Wine Group along with Toro de Piedra wines from Chile. Imagine the roaring of the applause!
Course after course begin to flow at each table and then an announcement was made that the guests’ passports had arrived. Keeping with the global culinary theme, KidLinks presented each guest with their very own copy of a perfect bound cookbook of recipes from the chefs, co-chairs including Georgia Lyons and even some spirits and wine ideas to remember the night by.
Later in the evening during a special presentation by Honorary Chef Chair Emeritus Salvatore Gisellu of Urban Family Restaurants, he touted the success of his vision eight years prior when Founding Event Chairs Bonnie and Nathan Shea created Symphony of Chefs. He passed the knife on to Honorary Chef Tiffany Derry, who had assembled an army of accomplished chefs including female powerhouses Sandra Bussey from bbbop Seoul Kitchen and Chicken Moto, Uno Immanivong from the Trinity Groves’ hotspot Chino Chinatown, The Cedars Socíal Anastacia Quiñones, Joanne Bondy from Stocks and Bondy and the sweetest of them all Dunia Borga of LaDuni Baking Studio.
As the fourth course of the dinner evening came to a close, it was time for the Live Auction of experiences. With the crowd mesmerized by their chef’s creations and full of the wines paired with each course, KidLinks was able to raise an additional $37,000 with just a few special auction packages and a small appeal to the audience. Hitting a new fundraising record of just over $275,000 raised, CEO Diana Crawford’s words of inspiration about KidLinks longstanding 35 plus years of history providing healing, hope and happiness to kids everywhere opened the hearts (and wallets) of donors in the room.
The evening came to a close with a presentation of assorted macarons from Haute Sweets Patisserie genius and Executive Chef Gianni Santin and a decadent chocolate pudding from Dunia. Pair it with the chocolate old fashioned from local brand Sheela Tequila and guests left with nothing but smiles on their faces. There were even comments that it was the best dinner they’d had in ages. And that is magic of what happens when a beautiful symphony of culinary creations and wine pairings comes together for a charitable cause in our city.
* Photo credit: Gabrielle Sheffield