If you’re new to Baton Rouge, you may not have figured out that Thursdays are one of the busiest social days around. Coffees, luncheons and galas all seem to take place on Friday’s eve, and Sept. 12 was true to form, with two luncheons and Forum 35’s “Viva il Vino.”
The Friends of the LSU Costume & Textile Museum held its annual membership luncheon and meeting at the Governor’s Mansion to celebrate the donation of Gov. Bobby Jindal, wife Supriya and their children’s inaugural attire to the museum. Their clothes, along with those of Alice and Gov. Mike Foster and the late Dodie and Gov. Dave Treen, were on display in the rotunda of the mansion, where the first lady, Dean Ken Koonce, museum curator Pam Rabalais-Vinci and Friends President Jeanne Triche welcomed guests. Among those guests were “Project Runway All Stars” winner Anthony Ryan Auld and his ROAR Foundation director Mary Katherine Rodrigue.
Needless to say this is a very fashion-conscious group but Louisiana’s first lady was holding her own. She recently got a shout out from none other than Vanity Fair magazine in its prestigious fashion issue as one of the best dressed political wives.
After a quick visit at the Governor’s Mansion, I scooted over to Boudreaux’s for the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance’s annual Rev. Mary Moody Lifetime Achievement Legacy Award Luncheon. This year’s honoree was Dee-Dee Culotta, owner of Victoria’s Toy Station — you know, that cute yellow house just past Bistro Byronz that has toys those of us over 50 fondly remember from our childhood.
Flappers and men attired in double-breasted, pinstripe suits … some even sporting spats, filled the Riverview Ballroom of the Hilton Capitol Center for Forum 35’s Viva il Vino “Bootleggers Ball,” a perfect venue since the group’s initial project of lighting the new Mississippi River Bridge provided a beautiful backdrop. The evening doubled as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the organization of young men and women working to improve our city.
A video look back of Forum 35’s past 20 years was also a career flashback for me; I had the honor of doing the first feature story on the organization and of covering all of its major events.
The wine continued to flow the following night when the Baton Rouge Irish Club held its sixth annual “Wine & Food Experience” at the Celtic Media Center. Special guest for the evening was Matt Murphy, executive chef of The Irish House in New Orleans and a champion of Food Network’s “Chopped.”
According to Irish lore, Friday is the most unlucky day to move a house, start a business or take a trip and having a wine tasting seemed to test the gods a bit, too, as the skies opened up with a deluge and lightning show that kept attendees in their vehicles for the first 15 to 30 minutes of the evening. However, it takes more than a little rain to stop Baton Rougeans from wine and food!
Providing that food along with Murphy were Mansurs on the Boulevard, Bonefish Grill, Uncle O’s, French Market Bistro, Beausoleil, Heather V’s Café, Café Du Jour, Room for Dessert and Harrington’s Café. Libations were provided by Republic National Distributing Co., Matherne’s Supermarket, Concanon, Crescent Crown, Cuban Liquor and Guinness.
The week started with a very special event remembering a very special man, the late Derek Gordon, who served as executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge until his untimely death on Sept. 10 of last year. A group of his friends from the jazz community came to Baton Rouge for an amazing concert at the Manship Theatre on the anniversary of his death to benefit the Arts Council’s Derek E. Gordon Arts Fund. They included vocalist Kurt Elling, pianist Fred Hersch, classical guitarist Berta Rojas and vocalist Vanessa Rubin.
Dressed head-to-toe in African attire, 23 high school seniors were introduced by the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at its 32nd Rites of Passage Ceremony Aug. 25 at the Mount Pilgrim Family Life Center. Featured speakers for the evening were Rosemary Ngemi, associate minister of Shiloh Baptist Church; and Lois Holden, wife of Mayor Kip Holden and assistant vice president for finance and business affairs at Southern University.
With the movie business picking up in the area, spotting celebrities is becoming a regular occurrence.
“He was awesome! He’s beautiful in person,” shared Allie. “I just had to tell him I was a huge fan of ‘Top Chef Masters’ and he shook my hand and gave me a hug.”
We’re still new enough at this that it causes us to catch our breath and, so far, we’ve been able to maintain our cool and penchant for Southern hospitality. Let’s hope we keep this reputation so our visiting celebs remain “awesome” and available for a snapshot and a hug.
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