The T. J. Martell Foundation's Best Cellars Dinner is the one night of the year when gala-goers are guaranteed a superb meal served with exceptional wines. Just ask those who were on hand at River Oaks Country Club for the fourth annual event that raised more than $175,000 for the Physician Scientist Program at M.D. Anderson.
Chefs Robert Del Grande and Mark Cox took the helm in the kitchen where River Oaks executive chef Charles Carroll joined them preparing a memorable feast for the sellout crowd. The beauty of this evening is that table hosts provide the best wines from their private cellars, vintages selected to compliment the four-course menu.
Carroll whipped up hors d'ouevres while Del Grande, who presides at RDG + Bar Annie, was responsible for the first course, terrine of lobster and sea scallops with poached leeks, and the third course, Colorado lamb shank in banana leaf. Cox of his namesake restaurant Mark's prepared the second course, Alaskan halibut with sous vide oxtail and butter scotch mushrooms, and dessert, salted caramel mousse dome with candied apples.
Key players in the evening included co-chairs Terrie and Mike Turner and Cathy and Gary Brock (traveling and unable to attend), honorary chairs Jeanie and Jim Janke and wine host chairman Franelle Rogers, whose task it was to insure that each table had palate-pleasing wines.
As is tradition with the Best Cellars dinners, which are held around the country, a singing artist from Nashville delivering star power. On this night Lorrie Morgan filled that role mingling with guests, launching the live auction and later providing entertainment.
Savoring this tasting evening were foundation CEO Laura Heatherly, Melissa and Jamey Rootes, Norelle and Brian Becker, Caroline and Gary Kenney, Cyndy Garza Roberts, Meredith and Fielding Cocke, Karen and Mike Mayell, Diane Lokey Farb, Linda and Gene Dewhurst and Susan and Norm Spalding.