Dining, wining and good causes rule week
There were a couple of days last week that I had all my meals provided for me. I had lunch two days in a row at Boudreaux’s — ah, those rolls — and dinner twice at the Renaissance Hotel.
The Renaissance was the setting for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s Rathbone Society dinner. Among the special guests were members of the Rathbone family and Mayor Kip Holden.
“You don’t know how much Kip has supported the fight against cancer,” CEO Todd Stephens told the audience. He went on to explain that the mayor suggested an easy way to get minorities to sign up for the bone marrow registry was to ask them when Mary Bird Perkins was out doing its various free community screenings.
Board chairwoman Donna Saurage had the honor of touting the center’s accomplishments over the past year, including its official affiliation with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. The new partnership is changing the center’s name to Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
That bit of news combined with the other good news shared by Saurage about the centers in Houma, Covington, Hammond and Gonzales was reason to take to the dance floor and cut a rug to the sounds of Ned Fasullo & the Fabulous Big Band Orchestra.
Women’s Week kickoff
The Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge kicked off Women’s Week with its traditional luncheon at Boudreaux’s Sept. 28. Tying into Louisiana’s 200th anniversary, luncheon chairwoman Maureen Corcoran invited Pam Vinci, curator of the LSU Textile & Costume Museum, to come and tell the story of Louisiana’s women through their clothes. The presentation started with the trousseau of Ann Madeline Ellie Butler, mistress of The Cottage Plantation in St. Francisville in 1813, touched on the inaugural gowns of Louisiana’s first ladies and ended up with a custom-designed gown by New Orleans designer Suzanne Perron.
Belly Up with the Bar
Later that afternoon, I geared up for one of my favorite events — the Baton Rouge Bar Association’s Belly Up with the Bar competition and fundraiser. Having outgrown its former location, this year’s event was held at Live Oak Arabians, which also made us weather-proof.
Sampling the concoctions of all 24 teams along with me were my fellow judges: Kris Cusanza, NBC33; Jay Ducote, 225 Magazine; former LSU basketball great Rudy Macklin; Chris Roussell, St. Luke’s Episcopal; Michael Shingleton, WBRZ-TV; and Jim Shannon, WAFB-TV.
This year’s event was chaired by Brandon DeCuir with Jennifer Racca serving as vice chairwoman. Committee members included Amanda Collura, Charles Davoli, Shelley Jourdan Harrison, Andrea Knouse, Julie McCall, Victor J. Suane Jr., Bradley Bourgeois, Kimberly Higginbotham, Blake Leger, Marcus Plaisance, Alan Posner, Benjamin Anderson, LaKeisha Ford, Justin Mannino, Dixon McMakin, Jamie Polozola and Loren D. Shanklin.
After many, many bites and sips we finally declared the winners:
First place — “Election Blues BBQ,” Worker’s Compensation attorneys; second place — “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” Kean Miller team; third place — “Gruel & Unusual Punishment,” District Attorney’s team.
Most Original & People’s Choice — “Peelin’ & Shakin with Keogh Cox & Wilson: A Black Tie Cajun BBQ.”
Best of Show — “Saints & Sinners,” Watson, Blanche, Wilson & Posner team.
Best Sauce first place — Shows, Cali & Walsh’s Shrimp & Grits Supreme.
Silver Spoon Award (Best Sauce second place) — Dennis, Bates & Bullen for “Chinese Bandits with ’58 Sauce.”
Best Theme — “Phelps Days … Havana Nights,” Phelps Dunbar.
Best Law School first place — “Chattel Ranchers,” Southern University Law Center Phi Alpha Delta & Federalist Society; second place, “Spicy Ginsburgers,” LSU Law Center.
Worst Food (Most Likely to Result in a Call to your Liability Carrier) — “Pelican House Tap Room & Whiskey Bar,” Treadway Morris.
Silver Spatula (People’s-Choice second place): Southern University Law Center SBA.
People’s Choice — Drink — McGlinchey Stafford’s “Hunger-y Games’ Nightlock Berry Cocktail.”
Silver Fork (Committee Choice) — Parish Attorney’s “Honey Boo Hoo’s Boo Nana Pudding.”
Silver Whisk (Best Dessert) — Southern University Law Center’s Banana’s Foster Cream Pie with Caramel Rum Sauce.
Fishin’ for Felines
My last stop that night was Cat Haven’s 13th annual Cat Tales & Cocktails Gala, “Fishin’ for Felines,” at Lake House Reception Center. Needless to say, it was in full swing by the time I arrived. Co-worker Smiley Anders and wife Lady Katherine, were taking care of emcee duties. Greeting guests as they arrived were several cages with some of the cutest kittens I’ve seen in a while. I was good and only tickled tummies through the gate, but I have a feeling those kitties all found new homes that night.
O’Brien House breakfast
Sept. 27, got off to an early start — O’Brien House Addition Recovery’s 10th annual breakfast at the Hilton Capitol Center. This year’s honorary chairmen were Marlene and Leroy Colter. Retired Gen. Russel Honoré was supposed to be the guest speaker but a family emergency changed those plans. No problem, though, Mayor Kip Holden can wax poetic for as long as needed, and Executive Director Katherine Martin, who typically gets short-changed by the time she steps up the mic, actually had time to talk about the good work being done at O’Brien House.
For instance, last year it served 9,000 clients; 960 clients went through its pre-trial diversion program for first-time DWI offenders; 394 people are on a waiting list for that program. O’Brien House is also working with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “We’ve become much more than a halfway house,” said Martin, proudly.
‘Power of the Purse’
Next was lunch with the American Red Cross at Boudreaux’s. Not only did I get to meet and visit with featured speaker Anita Foster, who is the regional chief communications officer for the ARC North Texas Region, but I got to sit next to Kay Wilkins, the new CEO of the Southeastern Region American Red Cross and a fellow Auburn alumna. As we all chatted over lunch, we got an up-close look at fall fashions from Russo Ross.
Foster talked about the women of the Red Cross, “ordinary women doing extraordinary things.” Her list included founder Clara Barton; Jane Delano, who brought skilled nurses into the fold; the late first lady Lady Bird Johnson, who worked actively as a volunteer; Linda, Maschel, Janet and Lisa, members of a mom’s group who teach CPR and first aid; and Wilkins, who after Katrina “when we lost all connectivity” tried to do her job as CEO of the New Orleans ARC chapter.
‘Feast with Falstaff’
The party hopping started again that evening with Opéra Louisiane, which was kicking off its 2012-2013 season with a “Feast with Falstaff” gala at the Old State Capitol prior to a performance of Verdi’s tale of the lecherous knight, Falstaff. Here I got to meet Bonita and Hassan Adeeb, who had traveled from Maryland to see daughter Meroe Adeeb’s performance. When they asked a question about the Old State Capitol I referred them to Beth Courtney of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, adding that I studied Alabama history not Louisiana. Well, turns out they lived in my home state for a while, just 22 miles from my hometown and that we have friends in common.
This day was shaping up like a reunion of some sort.
Pink Tool Belt Bash
Just reunions with old buddies at Habitat for Humanity’s eighth annual Pink Tool Belt Bash, which was well underway by the time I got to Juban’s Restaurant. The place was awash in a sea of women wearing every shade of pink imaginable. All proceeds from the silent auction benefit the 2012 Women Build, which brings together women from all walks of life to actively address the issue of children living in poverty by helping construct them safe, affordable homes.
The build got underway Sept. 29 but will continue every Wednesday and Saturday until the home is finished. To volunteer, call (225) 927-6651.
Viva il Vino
The long day of partying wrapped up at Forum 35’s 14th annual Viva il Vino event at the Renaissance Hotel. This year’s theme, “Casino Royale,” had auctioneer Stevie Toups doing his best James Bond impression. It must have worked because there was lots of high-roller action.
An Aspen ski trip for four traveling on a private jet went for $16,000. A luxurious Point Clear, Ala., getaway went for $1,200 as did a guided duck hunt at Little Eva Plantation.
Forum 35 also recognized two individuals and one company at the dinner. C.C. Lockwood received the Art Melt Louisiana Art Legend award; Todd Graves, who once served as vice president of corporate membership for the organization, received the Baton Rouge Original award to a standing ovation; and Hannis T. Bourgeois CPAs, Corporate Member of the Year.
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