The sleek invitations hit mailboxes earlier this week as the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy gears up for a spectacular 20th anniversary celebration with former President George W. Bush as the headliner and with a remarkable collection of six of the city's leading chefs preparing the dinner.
Plans have been in the making for more than a year for the Nov. 8 gala that will take place in an elaborately-decorated party tent on the Rice University Campus where Baker Institute founding director Edward Djerejian will lead "A Presidential Conversation" with Bush. Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Rice president David Leebron will be on the program as well.
The evening will celebrate the institute's international stature that includes rankings as the 13th best university-based think tank in the world and sixth among energy research programs worldwide. Nationally, the Baker Institute ranks 21st among the U.S.'s prestigious think tanks.
Complimenting the cerebral component, the gala promises a first-of-its-kind culinary celebration as well. Each of the chefs participating are James Beard Award-nominated talents. Sharing their expertise will be Reef's Bryan Caswell, Hugo's Hugo Ortega, Sparrow Bar + Cookshop's Monica Pope, Underbelly's Chris Shepherd, Uchi's Philip Speer and Michael Cordúa of Americas, Churrascos and Artista fame.
Joining forces as chairs of the gala evening are Cynthia and Bucky Allshouse, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor and Sheridan and John Eddie Williams. Add to that powerful mix Shahla and Hushang Ansary, who serve as anniversary celebration chairs. It will be a special evening for the Ansarys as Hushang will receive the James A. Baker III Prize for Excellence in Leadership 2013. Details on attending the gala are available here.
The gala is the first of two celebrations, the second of which the following night is geared for young professionals and among the co-chairs is Bush's daughter Jennifer Bush Hager and her husband Henry Hager. Check back at CultureMap for details on that party, dubbed "Club Berlin: A Night in Awash in Digital Grafitti."