Annual party honors charity event participants
Bacon remains firmly entrenched as a favorite choice for adding flavor to Louisiana foods — even desserts — if dishes prepared by Capital Chefs’ Showcase volunteers are any indication.
Cajun Bacon Ice Cream and Bacon Date Pralines were among the dishes guests munched on at a party Aug. 13 at the home of Bill and Monica Hadlock to honor chefs, caterers, restaurateurs and sponsors who will participate in the 30th annual Capital Chefs’ Showcase on Sept. 6.
Volunteer Michele Hornsby caused a stir among the partygoers when she arrived with Cajun Bacon Ice Cream, which she served with a drizzle of Catdaddy Moonshine.
When planning a party menu, “you can’t go wrong with bacon and ice cream,” she said.
“If you like sweets, you can put sugar on anything,” chef Don Bergeron commented as he took a bite of the Bacon Date Pralines made by chefs’ party committee Chairwoman Ann Guercio. Bergeron, owner of Chef Don Bergeron Enterprises and Mid City Market, said, “Sugar is the main flavor” of the praline, “but you get a little smokiness from the bacon plus the crunch of the dates. It doesn’t taste too sweet.”
While the volunteers prepared the food for the party honoring the chefs and others who will participate in the annual gala which benefits Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, they will leave the cooking for the Sept. 6 event to the professionals.
This is the 30th anniversary of the showcase, and 30 chefs and caterers will be donating their time and talents to provide dishes for the gala, said Susan Henry Jones, who, along with Moffitt Aycock, is co-adviser for the event’s planning committee.
The theme for the gala this year is celebrating “Catering to Body, Mind & Spirit” with a salute to Louisiana’s bicentennial year.
The nod to the state’s 200th year of statehood also was apparent in the festive table presentations in the Hadlocks’ dining room and kitchen. Monica Hadlock used shrimper’s rubber boots to hold bright yellow flowers for the dining table’s centerpiece. Many of the pickup foods featured Louisiana seafood and food products from Louisiana-based companies.
Jan LeBlanc Cox’s presentation for her Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters drew plenty of oohs and aahs from guests. She set the shot glasses holding the shooters atop a mirrored tray set in a glass bowl filled with ice balls.
“I used two ice molds I got from Sur La Table to make all those bowls,” she said. “I started four weeks ago, making two at a time.”
She said she got the idea for the ice balls from Don Bergeron.
“I had done a web search on how to display oyster shooters and can you believe it? I zeroed in on a Baton Rouge caterer.”
Bergeron appreciated her presentation and the oyster shooters. “They are delicious,” he said. “Cool and refreshing, good for summertime.”
Matt Murphy, assistant general manager for Portico, especially enjoyed the Asparagus Beef Wraps, a five-ingredient dish from Dr. Hal Canning. “They are very good. I’ve had a couple of them,” Murphy said.
Guests also raved about what Monica Balcom called her “embarrassingly simple recipe for marinated crab claws.” The recipe, Tim’s Simple Marinated Crab Claws, has only two ingredients — prepared crab claws and a dressing from Drusilla Seafood Restaurant and Catering, one of the restaurants participating in the upcoming Capital Chefs’ Showcase.
Among the other dishes, all garnished by committee member Allison Ashy, were Louisiana Gulf Shrimp Mold; Louisiana Coffee-Pecan Bars; Phyllo Cups With Smoked Salmon; Cajun-Asian Meatballs With Dipping Sauce; Cha-Cha Chicken Salad; Red, White and Blueberry Trifle; and Commander’s Palace Rémoulade Sauce served with boiled shrimp.
In addition to party chairwoman Guercio, members of the committee who organized the chefs’ party were Ashy, Barbara Bacot, Balcom, Charles Bennett, Frances Bennett, Cathy Black, Canning, Cox, Mary Eddy, Ellen Gilmore, Debbie Heroman, Hornsby, Ellen Murphy, Adele Netterville and Bret Smith.
Cancer Services Executive Director Mimi Riché thanked “the incredible people who formed the committee” to put on Capital Chefs’ Showcase, the chefs and caterers who participate and honorary chair couples LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri and his wife, Karen, and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and his wife, Cathy.
“For an event to have lasted so long and still be so popular is unique,” she said. “Truly, this event is one of the largest, most anticipated and most imitated events in our community. In this, our 30th year, the combined financial impact will top $3 million — all of which has stayed in this community to help those living with, through and beyond a cancer diagnosis.
“Cancer Services is indebted to Mary Jane Howell, Mary Delle Gerald and Judy Garland who created this concept and we look forward to honoring them and their legacy on Sept. 6,” Riché said.
“When we first got here (Baton Rouge) six years ago, we were asked to help out,” Mainieri told the partygoers. “We were very honored and privileged. This is the greatest event in Baton Rouge. I’m blown away by the event itself. It’s a classic example of Baton Rouge people helping others.”
The showcase began in 1982 as a two-day cooking demonstration. Some 1,100 people are expected to attend what is now a continuous cocktail buffet with open bar, silent auction, live music and raffle.