Raising the Barre

Houston's hottest chefs and ballet stars play together in the kitchen: And young professionals eat the spoils

Houston's hottest chefs and ballet stars play together in the kitchen

42 Yuriko Kajiya, left, and Ja’Nel Witt at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Yuriko Kajiya, left, and Ja’Nel Witt. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
8 Randy and Crystal Wright, from left, Danny Trace and Ting and John Bresnahan at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Randy and Crystal Wright, from left, Danny Trace and Ting and John Bresnahan. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
267 Chris and Kristy Bradshaw, from left, and  Heidi and Marcus Smith at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Chris and Kristy Bradshaw, from left, and Heidi and Marcus Smith. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
287 Phoebe and Bobby Tudor at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Phoebe and Bobby Tudor. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
368 Bill Toomey, from left, Heather and Tom O’Connor and John Shaw at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Bill Toomey, from left, Heather and Tom O’Connor and John Shaw. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
315 Roger and Monica McNeill, from left, Rachel McNeill and Dr. Wayne Franklin at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Roger and Monica McNeill, from left, Rachel McNeill and Dr. Wayne Franklin. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
278 Audrey and Brandon Cochran at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Audrey and Brandon Cochran. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
268 Divya and Chris Brown, left, with Claire Cormier Thielke at the Best at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Divya and Chris Brown, left, with Claire Cormier Thielke. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
258 Candace and Brian Thomas at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Candace and Brian Thomas. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
238 Nick and Beth Zdeblick at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Nick and Beth Zdeblick. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
230 Mary Patton, left, and Hannah Lonergan at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Mary Patton, left, and Hannah Lonergan. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
213 C.C. Connor and Jaquel Andrews at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
C.C. Conner and Jaquel Andrews. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
207 Eric and Shanna Bass, from left, and Katie and Bryan Leonard at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Eric and Shanna Bass, from left, and Katie and Bryan Leonard. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
194 Jeremy and Linsay Radcliffe, from left, and Katie and Bryan Leonard at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Jeremy and Linsay Radcliffe, from left, and Katie and Bryan Leonard. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
149 Yuriko Kajiya, from left, Olivier Ciesielski and Jared Matthews at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Yuriko Kajiya, from left, Olivier Ciesielski and Jared Matthews. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
101 Danny Trace, left, and Christopher Gray at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Danny Trace, left, and Christopher Gray. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
61 Ryan Pera and Soo Youn Cho at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Ryan Pera and Soo Youn Cho. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
34 Allison Miller, left, and Rebecca Masson at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
Allison Miller, left, and Rebecca Masson. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Joel, Raising the Barre, March 2015
The ballet is all about the food on this night. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
42 Yuriko Kajiya, left, and Ja’Nel Witt at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
8 Randy and Crystal Wright, from left, Danny Trace and Ting and John Bresnahan at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
267 Chris and Kristy Bradshaw, from left, and  Heidi and Marcus Smith at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
287 Phoebe and Bobby Tudor at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
368 Bill Toomey, from left, Heather and Tom O’Connor and John Shaw at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
315 Roger and Monica McNeill, from left, Rachel McNeill and Dr. Wayne Franklin at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
278 Audrey and Brandon Cochran at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
268 Divya and Chris Brown, left, with Claire Cormier Thielke at the Best at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
258 Candace and Brian Thomas at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
238 Nick and Beth Zdeblick at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
230 Mary Patton, left, and Hannah Lonergan at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
213 C.C. Connor and Jaquel Andrews at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
207 Eric and Shanna Bass, from left, and Katie and Bryan Leonard at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
194 Jeremy and Linsay Radcliffe, from left, and Katie and Bryan Leonard at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
149 Yuriko Kajiya, from left, Olivier Ciesielski and Jared Matthews at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
101 Danny Trace, left, and Christopher Gray at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
61 Ryan Pera and Soo Youn Cho at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
34 Allison Miller, left, and Rebecca Masson at Houston Ballet Raising the Barre March 2015
News, Joel, Raising the Barre, March 2015

We all know that Houston Ballet dancers can bust a move. The question is: Can they cook?

It's this pickle that was on the plate at the fifth annual "Raising the Barre" dinner Sunday at Brennan's of Houston. So much so that demand for seats blew the lid off expectations, engendering Houston Ballet young professionals to snatch all 180 tickets within three weeks of being available for purchase. That's a good problem to have, thought party chairs Ting and John Bresnahan and Crystal and Randy Wright.

The Ballet Barre throng that this season is led by chairmen Hannah Lonergan and Mary Nichols Patton — always chic, always poised — savored once again the delicious five-course choreography that happens when ballerinas and cavaliers play in the kitchen alongside top local toques.

The second floor of the restaurant was packed solid with spirited chit chatter as Hell's Kitchen winner and Corner Table chef Ja'Nel Witt passed a trio of apps inspired by principal dancer Yuriko Kajiya's provenance. With a nod to the Land of the Rising Sun, this duo offered Japanese togarashi tuna tartare, blistered shinto peppers and tempura takos  — yes, with a "k" and not with a "c." Champagne? Arigatoo gozaimasu.

 Applause was well deserved for this soirée that raised $84,000 to support ballet programs, performances and community engagement ventures.

Act two included the collaborative efforts of soloist Soo Youn Cho, from Korea, and Coltivare chef Ryan Pera, who became friends with the Bresnahans soon after the couple moved from Virginia to Houston six years ago. As a special favor to Ting, Pera participated for the first time in this fundraiser and created a Gulf Coast Bo Ssam — smoked oysters, crispy pork belly and kimchi wrapped in a soft lettuce leaf.

The following courses included a butternut squash ravioli thanks to chef Olivier Ciesielski and first soloist Jared Matthews, Texas red snapper and crawfish over mascarpone grits courtesy of host chef Danny Trace and demi soloist Christopher Gray and a tangy sweet finish in the Meyer lemon tart crafted by Rebecca Masson with soloist Allison Miller.

Applause was well deserved for this soirée that raised $84,000 to support ballet programs, performances and community engagement ventures. Doing their duty were Harry Cullen, who won a vintage 2002 bottle of Dom Pérignon in the silent auction, and Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, bidding $7,500 during the live auction on a similar dinner at home with the evening's culinary team. With a $12,000 bid, Linsay and Jeremy Radcliffe won a private dinner for 12 in the James Beard House in New York City.

Balletomanes in the crowd alongside artistic director Stanton Welch, executive director Jim Nelson and sponsor BB&T's representatives Heather and Tom O'Connor and Courtney and Bill Toomey included Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Divya and Chris Brown, Christine and Chris Transier, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, Mary and Ben Patton, Annette and Anthony Brissett, Erin and James Stewart, Jaquel and Jeremy Andrews, Gina and Devinder Bhatia, Margaret and Brian Bravo, Mary Rebecca Dick and Jakeen and Garfield Johnson.