In preparation for KidLinks‘ ninth annual Symphony of Chefs fundraiser, the sponsors and patrons gathered in The Star’s War Room on Tuesday, January 29, to select which of the area’s top-notch chefs would be cooking their dinners at Sixty Five Hundred. Here’s a report from the field:
They say everything is bigger in Texas! So it is fitting that Symphony of Chefs, which in recent years has become one of city’s most unique and personal culinary experiences, conducted its chef selection “draft” for the second year in a row at Jerry Jones’ state-of-the-art War Room at The Star in Frisco. This bona fide, culinary-crazed event commenced the evening of Tuesday, January 29, as VIP sponsors and patrons gathered for a private party to select their table chefs for the ninth annual Symphony of Chefs benefiting KidLinks, a non-profit organization that provides healing, hope and happiness for children and families through therapeutic music entertainment and music therapy programs.
Hosted by The Dallas Cowboys and Legends Hospitality, the 2019 VIP Patron and Chef Selection party was handled with glitz and glamour as the A-list of Dallas’ most notable philanthropists selected their event chef in an NFL draft-style selection process. It was only appropriate that former sportswriter for the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald and feature writer for DallasCowboys.com, Mickey Spagnola, led the evening and emceed the chef selection event.
The evening began with guests gathering in the grand atrium of The Star for VIP guided tours that started promptly at 6:30 p.m. Following the first tour of the ever-popular Dallas Cowboys mecca, guests were greeted with a welcome glass of champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres as they entered The Training Table event space. The tantalizing aroma of cuisine crafted by The Star’s Executive Chef Rachid El Yamani and Pastry Chef Cesar Barchina filled the air as guests mix and mingled.
Numerous participating chefs turned out to show their support including: Sebastien Archambault of The Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek; Tiffany Derry of Roots Chicken Shack; Juan “Pancho” Jasso, executive chef of Nick & Sam’s Park Cities; TJ Lengnick, executive chef of Dee Lincoln Prime at The Star; Isaac Kek of Musumé; and Mauro Maccioni representing Circo and visiting from the “Big Apple.”
Guests like Honorary Co-Chairs Jenny and Tim Dove; 2019 Event Co-chairs Vinette and Mike Montgomery, Amy Pratt, and Kaari and James Wicklund; Founding Event Co-Chairs Bonnie and Nathan Shea; Honorary Chef Chair Gorji of Gorji Restaurant; Honorary Chef Chair Emeritus Salvatore Gisellu of Urban Family Restaurants; Ann and J.W. Brown; Karen and Mike Dollar; Georgia and Marc Lyons; Pebble McGhee and Daffan Nettle and chefs mixed and mingled and went into “scout” mode as the culinary preview playbook made its way around the room.
To kick the program off, The Star General Manager Chris Collins took the stage and welcomed guests. He then handed the mic off to KidLinks CEO Diana Crawford who shared a story about the amazing progress a recent KidLinks family had seen in their autistic son thanks to the free/low cost board-certified music therapy program KidLinks provides. It was evident in the room how much of a positive impact the sponsors and chefs have made on so many deserving children’s lives. After Diana’s closing remarks, everyone prepared for show time!
Event Producer Hamilton A Sneed took the stage to introduce the 29 participating chefs to the crowd and began to round up the table heads before leading this select group to the War Room, a room that just this past April was full of the who’s who in the NFL who gathered to determine the fate of the 2018 draft class. The War Room was set-up for each sponsor representative to make their pick as to who would be cooking for their table of 10 guests at Symphony of Chefs on Monday, February 25, at Sixty-Five Hundred. An interactive video wall covered the entire front wall of the war room featuring each chef and sponsor, which was ready for a selection experience that sponsors would never forget. Meanwhile, a live video feed appeared on the screens in main event space where guests and chefs in could view the draft process.
While guests, chefs and sponsors settled into their seats, a feeling of anxiousness filled the crowd as the NFL-style draft began. Soon after explaining how the draft would work and the rules of the game, Mickey and Hamilton assumed their roles as the War Room correspondents.
The table heads began to recruit their chef of choice simultaneously as draft seats were traded, raising an extra $15K+ on the spot for KidLinks. The first draft pick was the result of a trade with Urban Oil & Gas Group and was purchased by Mike Montgomery of Trek Resources, who selected celebrity chef Juan “Pancho” Passo, executive chef of Nick and Sam’s Park Cities. It was a very special time in the war room for Mike Montgomery as he helped his sister, Pebble McGhee select chef Justin Box of EB2, in celebration of their mother Faye C. Briggs, who has been a long-time supporter of KidLinks.
The draft continued with selections including: Recently named Best Chef of the Year 2018 for Eater Dallas, Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman of José, John Tesar of Knife, John Kleifgen of Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse, David Tran of Uchibā, along with the other 21 featured dinner chefs, until all chefs were selected and paired with sponsor tables.
As the evening concluded, it was clear that the sponsors, chefs and KidLinks had scored big with the VIP Patron party.
For more information about KidLinks and the Symphony of Chefs culinary composition event, please visit https://kidlinks.org/soc.
* Photo credit: Celeste Smith