More than 400 guests raised a glass to the Nature Conservancy Texas at the Toast the Coast gala, raising more than $430,000 for various Texas Gulf Coast projects. The lush green grounds of the Houston Polo Club were awash in shades of blue for the fundraiser, giving a seaside feel to the outdoor event that replaced formal gown and tuxedos with maxi dresses and linen pants.
During cocktail hour, Shane Smith and The Saints serenaded guests who mixed, mingled and noshed on dishes created by chef Bryan Caswell. With his signature orange Houston Astros cap in place, Caswell served fresh-from-the-Gulf oysters and po'boy appetizers and for dinner, amped up surf-and-turf with Manhattan strip steak topped with scallop and Alaskan king crab sauce.
Laura Huffman, state director for the The Nature Conservancy, kept the program short, but reminded guests the value of the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Gulf of Mexico is an important body of water economically and ecologically,” Huffman said. “The gold is making its way back.” The Gulf Coast region is home to one-quarter of Texas’ 25 million people and sustains a $20 billion in recreation and tourism industry, as well as supporting 90 percent of the nation’s offshore oil and gas production.
Guests danced off their dinner to the sounds of the always-popular SkyRocket. Those spotted in the sea of blue included chairs Kate and Steve Gibson, Laura Huffman, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Cyndy Garza-Roberts and Thomas Roberts, Bill Baldwin and Fady Armanious, Hallie Vanderhider, Cherri Flores, Melissa and Oliver Tuckermanat, Janet Hobby, and William and Kimberly Farley.