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Partying with Elton John, celebrating an energy mogul's b'day & a dream dinner at Reef

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Carol and Michael Linn at his birthday bash at Tony's. Photo by Jenny Antill
News_Andrea White_Gwen Goffe_Kelli Blanton
Andrea White, from left, Gwen Goffe and Kelli Blanton at Tony's. Photo by Jenny Antill
News_Meryl Streep_Jean Dujardin_Academy Awards
Meryl Streep attended the Governors Ball after receiving her Oscar but Jean Dujardin headed to the Vanity Fair party where Lynn Wyatt was among guests. Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage
News_Bo Barrett_Heidi Barrett_Bill Floyd
Bo and Heidi Barrett autograph their wine bottles for Bill Floyd, left, at the REEF wine dinner. Photo by Kim Coffman
News_Shannon Rechter_Chef Bryan Caswell
Shannon Rechter and chef Bryan Caswell pose for a quick photo between courses at REEF. Photo by Kim Coffman
News_John Leguizamo_Drew Starlin
John Leguizamo, left, and Drew Starlin have a bite at Max's Wine Dive. Courtesy of Max's Wine Dive
News_The Birthday Cake
Michael Linn's ice cream bombe was a hit with the 200 guests. Photo by Jenny Antill
News_Tony's_bar_Mike's Irish Pub_Yvonne Washington and The Mix
Tony's bar was transformed into Mike's Irish Pub for the birthday bash. Photo by Jenny Antill
News_Carol Linn_Michael Linn
News_Andrea White_Gwen Goffe_Kelli Blanton
News_Meryl Streep_Jean Dujardin_Academy Awards
News_Bo Barrett_Heidi Barrett_Bill Floyd
News_Shannon Rechter_Chef Bryan Caswell
News_John Leguizamo_Drew Starlin
News_The Birthday Cake
News_Tony's_bar_Mike's Irish Pub_Yvonne Washington and The Mix
News_Shelby Hodge_head shot_Dec. 2009

Recently retired oil and gas mogul Michael Linn, founder of LINN Energy, took over Tony's Sunday night for a 60th birthday celebration long on fun and great food, short on speeches. And that's just the way his wife, Carol Linn, planned it for 200 of their nearest and dearest, including family and friends who flew in from across the country.

It was a who's who of the city's business and cultural circles with Texas Children's Hospital CEO Mark Wallace and wife Shannon; Debbie and John Daughtery of John Daugherty Realtors; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston new director Gary Tinterow; H-E-B Houston president Scott McClelland and wife Soraya; former Mayor Bill White and wife Andrea and Alley Theatre managing director Dean Gladden and wife Jane.

Flower-dressed tables filled the restaurant to its entirety making for a jubilant crush of well-wishers that included Liz and Tom Glanville, Grace and Dr. Dom Kim, Sheridan and John Eddie Williams and Melinda and Dr. Norman Berkman. The bar was transformed into "Mike's Irish Pub" for the night, where a combo played and Yvonne Washington warbled the tunes.

At the appropriate moment, waiters carried out the massive ice cream bombe decorated in shamrocks. That and birthday cake, washed down with Dom Perignon, served as the finale to the impressive four-course dinner.

Joining the party were Lisa and Jerry Simon, Katherine and Jim Ketelsen, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Dancie and Jim Ware, Gwen Goffe and Ed Eubanks, the Rev. Frank Rossi, Ileana and Michael Trevino and, actually sitting down to enjoy the dinner, Donna and Tony Vallone, close friends of the Linns.

Oscar partying

That would be Lynn Wyatt, Diane Lokey Farb, Neal Hamil, Courtney and Bo Hopson and Joyce and Hugh Echols, who wined and dined their way through Hollywood over the Oscar weekend. 

Friday night for the Houston contingent, it was cocktails in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Elton John and David Furnish along with Chopard hosted a small cocktail gathering. The guest list included Patty Hearst Shaw and her two daughters —Town & Country associate editor Gillian Hearst Simonds and model/actress Lydia Hearst Shaw — plus the Food Network's Sandra Lee, Nicki Haskell and famed celebrity photographer Greg Gorman.

Then it was on to dinner for Diane and Neal at SoHo House for a fete hosted by Harvey Weinstein and including Houston's Hillevi and David Saperstein. Later in the evening, the party went star crazy with the arrival of soon-to-win-the-Oscar Meryl Streep and My Week With Marilyn star Michelle Williams. Even Tony Bennett was in the late-night mix and sang Autumn Leaves, a favorite of Weinstein's 86-year-old mother.

On Oscar night, La Wyatt was in her usual envied position at the oh-so-exclusive Vanity Fair Oscar-viewing dinner and then at Vanity Fair's Act II — the Oscars after party at the Sunset Towers Hotel.

Diane, Neal, the Echols and Hopsons were guests at Elton's 20th anniversary Oscar viewing party benefiting his AIDS foundation. They were hosted by Chopard's Caroline Scheufele and Marc Hruschka, Chopard USA president and CEO. The most special guest at that party was Elton and David's son, one-year-old Zachary, dressed to kill in a baby tux.

A remarkable wine dinner

Winemaking superstars Heidi and Bo Barrett made their first-ever joint wine dinner in Texas at REEF Monday night and the 42 lucky guests (there was a wait list of 28) are still swooning over the wine and food parings. With award-wining chef Bryan Caswell manning the stoves and with the Barretts pulling out some of their best vintages, it was by all reports one memorable feast.

Guests such as Lexie and Collin Rose, newlyweds Sue and Dr. Byron Novosad, Darrell Dodds and Rebecca Taylor mingled with the Barretts during the cocktail reception before sitting down in the private wine room for a six-course meal. The Barretts changed seats after each course so that everyone could have a little face time with these master vintners.

The dinner included three wines from La Sirena, Heidi's winery, and three from Chateau Montelena, Bo's winery. Heidi autographed bottles of Screaming Eagle and other labels as requested by various guests and by REEF's Bill Floyd. Highlight of the menu was Caswell's lobster ravioli with vanilla beurre blanc paired with Chateau Montelena chardonnay.

Loving it all were guests including Gaylene and Ralph McIngvale, Andrea and Andrew Diamond, Frank and Karen Steininger, Twyla and Mark Cady and Charlene Floyd.

Sight 'ems

John Leguizamo and his posse dining at Max's Wine Dive following his one-man show, Ghetto Klown, at the Wortham. On the menu — crackling chicken with truffle risotto and a side of bitter greens, La Marca prosecco and a Balbo late harvest Malbec. Joining Leguizamo were his producer and the crew with Lisa Endicott of Dallas . . .

Former Houstonian George Hittner and his bride, Erika, in town for the Maverick PAC meeting. Hittner is veep of government relations and general counsel for American Traffic Solutions in Phoenix. . .

The French Cowboy chef Philippe Schmit working up a playlist of country music Friday night at his namesake restaurant on Post Oak Boulevard where more than a few rodeo fans got in the mood during his all-night happy hour. Even the staff  staff dressed up in western wear. Neighbor Pinto Ranch couldn't help but jump in on the fun by giving away a cowboy hat to a lucky diner. Among the partygoers enjoying the all-night happy hour were Brian Becker, Cathi Walsh, Carolyn Farb, Bea Garcia of Pinto Ranch, Sanford Steinberg, Stuart Rosenberg and Salim Zakhem.

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