Shelby's Social Diary

The best damn gala dinner ever: Wolfgang Puck has symphony patrons swooning

The best damn gala dinner ever: Wolfgang Puck woos symphony patrons

460 Bill Coates, from left, Dr. Devinder Bhatia and Gina Bhatia and Joseph Kemble at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Bill Coates, from left, Dr. Devinder Bhatia and Gina Bhatia and Joseph Kemble. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
382 Andrés Orozco-Estrada and Marie Taylor Bosarge at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Andrés Orozco-Estrada and Marie Taylor Bosarge. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
336 Wolfgang Puck preparing second course in the kitchen at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Wolfgang Puck  stirs the jasmine rice that will be served with lobster. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
208 Steve and Mary Lynn Marks, from left, and Nancy and Bob Peiser at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Steve and Mary Lynn Marks, from left, and Nancy and Bob Peiser. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
260 Bobby and Phoebe Tudor at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Bobby and Phoebe Tudor. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
159 David and Viviana Denechaud, from left, and Valerie and Tracy Dieterich at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
David and Viviana Denechaud, from left, and Valerie and Tracy Dieterich. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
477 Dessert - Chocolate Hazelnut Bar, Cranberry Gelée, Caramel  and Whipped Cream at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
For dessert: Chocolate hazelnut bar, cranberry gelée, caramel and whipped cream. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
432 Darlene and Cappy Bisso at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Darlene and Cappy Bisso. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
404 Fourth course - Slow Braised Short Rib with a side of Cheddar Grits and Tomato Horseradish Crush at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015jpg
Fourth course: Slow-Braised short rib with a side of cheddar grits and tomato horseradish crush. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
211 Jennifer and Bryan Caswell at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Jennifer and Bryan Caswell. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
219 Dr. Gary Brock perusing action items at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Dr. Gary Brock. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
250 David and Tricia Dewhurst at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
David and Tricia Dewhurst. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
244 Lester and Sue Smith, from left, and Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Lester and Sue Smith, from left, and Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
102 Margaret Alkek Williams and Wolfgang Puck at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Margaret Alkek Williams and Wolfgang Puck. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
43 Mark and Christina Hanson at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Mark and Christina Hanson. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
165 Bill and Courtney Toomey at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Courtney and Bill Toomey. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
443 Miles Smith and Robin Angly at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Miles Smith and Robin Angly. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
67 Charlotte and Randolph Wands at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Charlotte and Randolph Wands. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
170 Megan Conley and Matthew Roitstein at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Megan Conley and Matthew Roitstein. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
35 Steve and Joella Mach at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Steve and Joella Mach. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
126 Rey Ocanas, left, and Orlando Ocanas at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Rey Ocanas, left, and Orlando Ocanas. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
174 Hong and Dorion Ogle at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Hong and Dorion Ogle. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
76 Betty and Jesse Tutor, left, with Sherida Vida at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Betty and Jesse Tutor, left, with Sherida Vida. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
65 Ramon Leon, from left, Lucia and Michael Cordua and Jackson Hicks at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Ramon Leon, from left, Lucia and Michael Cordua and Jackson Hicks. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
58 Heidi and David Massin at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Heidi and David Massin. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
3 Sybil F. Roos, left, and Betsy Garlinger at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
Sybil F. Roos, left, and Betsy Garlinger. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
460 Bill Coates, from left, Dr. Devinder Bhatia and Gina Bhatia and Joseph Kemble at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
382 Andrés Orozco-Estrada and Marie Taylor Bosarge at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
336 Wolfgang Puck preparing second course in the kitchen at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
208 Steve and Mary Lynn Marks, from left, and Nancy and Bob Peiser at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
260 Bobby and Phoebe Tudor at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
159 David and Viviana Denechaud, from left, and Valerie and Tracy Dieterich at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
477 Dessert - Chocolate Hazelnut Bar, Cranberry Gelée, Caramel  and Whipped Cream at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
432 Darlene and Cappy Bisso at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
404 Fourth course - Slow Braised Short Rib with a side of Cheddar Grits and Tomato Horseradish Crush at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015jpg
211 Jennifer and Bryan Caswell at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
219 Dr. Gary Brock perusing action items at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
250 David and Tricia Dewhurst at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
244 Lester and Sue Smith, from left, and Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
102 Margaret Alkek Williams and Wolfgang Puck at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
43 Mark and Christina Hanson at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
165 Bill and Courtney Toomey at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
443 Miles Smith and Robin Angly at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
67 Charlotte and Randolph Wands at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
170 Megan Conley and Matthew Roitstein at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
35 Steve and Joella Mach at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
126 Rey Ocanas, left, and Orlando Ocanas at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
174 Hong and Dorion Ogle at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
76 Betty and Jesse Tutor, left, with Sherida Vida at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
65 Ramon Leon, from left, Lucia and Michael Cordua and Jackson Hicks at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
58 Heidi and David Massin at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015
3 Sybil F. Roos, left, and Betsy Garlinger at the Houston Symphony Wolfgang Puck wine dinner March 2015

For two weeks prior to the Houston Symphony's Wine Dinner & Collector's Auction, famed chef Wolfgang Puck had a team of six chefs in and out of Houston, all working with Jackson and Co.'s kitchen staff in preparation for the meal that would surpass all expectations.

Applause, applause for dinner chairs Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, close friends of the celebrity chef. They convinced Puck to headline the evening which was so enticing that it had to be moved from its traditional locale on stage at Jones Hall to the Corinthian. The five-course dinner, paired with special wines including the highly-coveted Caymus 40th anniversary cabernet sauvignon, had guests swooning. 

The menu — roasted beet Napoleons, handmade agnolotti pasta with black truffles, lobster with jasmine rice, short ribs with cheddar grits and a chocolate hazelnut bar with cranberry gelée, caramel and whipped cream  — offered as Puck described it "a little bit of tastes from our restaurants." The wine pairings were selected by the Bhatias and Lindy and John Rydman of Spec's Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods, a regular sponsor of the event.

The dinner for 400 was paced for enjoyment, the black-tie crowd mingling jovially between courses. A number of guests took the opportunity to meet symphony music director Andrés Orozco-Estradawho was joined at the Bhatia's head table by symphony CEO Mark Hanson and his wife, Christina.

"It takes a great team, just like it takes a great orchestra," Puck said. "All of my guys played great music tonight so it was really easy for me." 

As would be expected, Symphony Society leaders were in the house including president Bob Peiser and wife Nancy, immediate past president Bobby Tudor and wife Phoebe, president elect Steve Mach and wife Joella, board chair Jess Tutor and wife Betty, vice president of volunteers and special events Mary Lynn Marks and husband Steve, Symphony League president Vicki West and collector's auction chairman Bob Weiner.

When he arrived on stage at the close of dinner, Puck proved a certain graciousness. "It takes a great team, just like it takes a great orchestra," he said. "All of my guys played great music tonight so it was really easy for me."

Indeed, we watched in the kitchen as Puck was up to his elbows in short rib gravy, congenially yet forcefully directing the team of 30 who were at work behind the scenes.

Puck made a quick appearance at the early evening VIP reception where he was greeted by Houston star chefs Carl Walker, Michael Cordua of Churrasco's and Bryan Caswell of Reef, as well as symphony patrons that included newlyweds Charlotte Rothwell Wands and Randolph Wands, Marie Bosarge, Cathy and Dr. Gary Brock, Linda and Gene Dewhurst, Tricia and David Dewhurst and Jana Arnoldy.

"Sorry, I couldn't find a black-tie," Puck quipped as he circled through the space posing for photos. The following day, he was off to Dubai, where he has a restaurant, then on to Bahrain, where he is opening an eatery. After that, he heads to Istanbul where he will open a branch of his iconic Spago in the St. Regis Hotel.