If you measure an evening's success by the worthiness of the cause, the T.J. Martell Foundation's Best Cellars dinner, raising funds for cancer research was, of course, great. But if you add to the barometer the quality of food and wine served, the sixth annual dinner, held at Hotel ZaZa, was a monumental grand slam.
Throw in the jubilant atmosphere enjoyed by a diverse turnout from previous years and you have one helluva good night.
Applause, applause to chair Franelle Rogers and wine hosts chair Robert Sakowitz. But let's save the biggest applause for three of the city's top chefs that raised the bar on chef-driven charity dinners with one of the most remarkable meals in recent memory.
Kudos to lead chef Mark Cox, to BCN Taste & Tradition chef Luis Roger, and to Etoile Cuisine et Bar chef Philippe Verpiand. Add host chef, Michael de la Flor of Hotel ZaZa to those earning high praise.
As is Best Cellars tradition, talent from Nashville (home of the non-profit) joins the party and this year was a pleasing double-header with Red Bow recording artist Craig Campbell and emcee Shawn Parr, whose booming voice and national awards shows prowess added to the night's electric energy.
Of course, the wine hosts who raided some of the best from their personal cellars added to the merriment and stellar quality of the evening. Contributing to the seriously high spirits were honorary chairs Linda and Gene Dewhurst, Carolyn Faulk, and Jeanie and Jim Janke. More than $230,000 was raised for research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Wining, dining and socializing were Caroline and Gary Kenney, Faith and Lee Majors, David Dewhurst, Ede and Dr. Bruce Weiner, Mark Berman, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Cyndy Garza Roberts and Thomas Roberts, Kimberly and Guy Stout, Lori and Darryl Schroeder, Stephanie and David Baird, Dean Putterman and Ed Finger, and Gaye Lynn and Stuart Zarrow.