God bless chefs Randy Evans, Chris Shepherd and Monica Pope. They each took their talents to the kitchen of Catalan (Shepherd's home plate) and joined forces with three of Houston Ballet's talented dancers for a whirl around the pots and pans creating four-course dinners for a clamoring crowd of more than 200.
Call it "cooking with the stars."
As if these three hot chefs aren't busy enough — Evans at the helm at Haven and Pope overseeing her popular T'afia, they dedicated their sacred Monday night calm to a busman's holiday for the benefit of Ballet Barre, Houston Ballet's young professionals organization.
This "Raising the Barre" event included a cocktail reception, seated dinner and silent auction while raising funds for Houston Ballet's Dance With Us! capital campaign.
Shepherd, working with soloist Oliver Halkowich, got the grazing started by preparing Vietnamese-Style Crudo for the first course. Pope and principal dancer Ian Casady revved the meal up with a Gulf Crab Salad for second course. And Evans, working with first soloist Kelly Myernick, prepared Lamb Shoulder with Cauliflower Puree for the main course. Since it was his home turf, Shepherd with Halkowich stepped back in for dessert — a Chocolate X 3 confection that tempted even the most calorie-conscious.
Adding to the fun was the visible kitchen so that diners could catch glimpses of the chefs and the sous who were definitely on their toes. No one went home hungry or departed in anything but high spirits. It was one great night for chair Kristen Andreasen and to Ballet Barre chairs Kristy Bradshaw and Lindsey Brown.
Keeping a watchful on his cooking dancers was Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch as was managing director C.C. Conner.
Joining the cocktail-attired crowd were Houston Ballet principal dancer Amy Fote plus Divya Brown, Maidie Ryan, Stuart Rosenberg, Polly and Dr. Jerry Gauthier, Claire Cormier Thielke and Rick Thielke, Peter Brown, Hallie and Eugene Kim, Christine Transier, Lynda Transier, Dr. Darrell Cass, Cara Morales with Jared Lang, and Derith Hibbetts.