As the 900 guests at the Rice Design Alliance "Live Feed" gala poured into the Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom, there was something a little different in store. For starters, rather than honoring an individual or corporation with roots in Houston's growth, the event spotlighted the non-profit Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs or OKRA with Bobby Heugel accepting on behalf of the 21 OKRA member organizations.
Adding to the twist on the traditional was the participation of Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd, who provided his famed Korean braised goat and dumplings as one of the dinner's four courses. Then there were the 14 custom works of art, inspired by collaborations between Houston artists and OKRA members and organized by Judy Nyquist. Those pieces were in addition to the 104 silent auction items, organized by Juliè Gauthier and Kelie Mayfield.
During the program, RDA Doug Combes gave special recognition to Linda Sylvan, who has served as the non-profit's executive director for 25 years. Betsy Strauch and Lonnie Hoogeboom took bows for their success as gala chairs with $520,000 in proceeds.
Once the business of the evening was complete, the black-tie crowd got down to dancing to the sounds of the Next Level Band. Spotted in the crowd were Charlotte and Larry Whaley, David Harvey and Mikki Hebl, Deborah Brochstein and Steven Hecht, Elaine and Ray Messer, John Marshall, Kathrin Brunner and Ben Crawford, and former Rice University School of architecture deans John Casbarian with Natalye Appel and Lars Lerup with Eva Sarraga.