Shelby About Town
Dinner with CNN's Ali Velshi a stellar night for Joanne King Herring
Long before Julia Roberts portrayed her in Charlie Wilson's War, Joanne King Herring was widely recognized as a successful volunteer diplomat and extraordinary hostess. With the dinner party that she put on Saturday night for CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, she proved that her prowess as hostess with the mostess continues in full force.
Velshi and his bride flew in just for dinner, held in the River Oaks home of Herring's friend Susan Krohn. Herring had appeared on Velshi's Your $$$$$ program a few months ago and the two, despite differing political views, hit it off. She promised Velshi a table of fascinating dinner guests that would provide fodder for his two-hour show. Herring jumped in at the start, tackling illegal immigration just as the vichyssoise was served by uniformed waiters wearing white gloves.
By the time the sea bass entree was served, M.D. Anderson president Dr. John Mendelsohn had introduced cancer research to the conversation. Anne Mendelsohn, active with Teach for America, turned the conversation to public education. And AlanCraft, Open Door Mission board president, talked about the success of the drug and alcohol abuse recovery program.
"You are not just a great hostess," Velshi said in a toast to Herring, "but you are a great connector bringing these interesting people together for fascinating conversation."
Rounding out the table were JPMorgan Chase honcho Marty Goossen and wife Kathy, and others plus RebeccaGray Grossman, chair of the Grossman Burn Foundation, a humanitarian-focused non-profit based in California.
If that weren't a rich enough table group, Herring announced the post-dinner arrival of guests from Dubai at 9:30 p.m., an interesting duo with a reported $300 million to invest in the Houston area.
Powder Puff kickoff
That would be the bevy of Blondes vs. Brunettes participants who poured into Mo's . . . a Place for Steaks last week as an advance strategy session for their charity flag football game set for May 15 at St. John's School. (Proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Association.)
Mo's charmer/owner Johnny V welcomed the ladies and friends that included Houston Texans Owen Daniels and David Anderson, who surely offered some gridiron insights. The tony group of players, coaches and supporters included John Andell, Kate and Will Stukenberg, Meredith Riddle,Kenady Davis, Jason Kaminsky, Liz Anders Caroline Dudley, Todd Dillingham and Blondes vs. Brunettes chairs Jill Ford and Callie Parker.
Executive chef Eric Aldis oversaw the party fare that featured "Blonde" and "Brunette" martinis, an array of appetizers and mini-root beer shakes.
On stage in NYC
Imagine that the Stages Repertory Theatre annual board trip to New York coincided with the Times Square bomb scare. Lucky for the crew shepherded by Stages producing artistic director Kenn McLaughlin, they experienced no disruption in their plans Saturday night until finishing dinner after the theater. At 1 a.m., board chair George Lancaster e-mailed, the group emerged from their restaurant to find Broadway "lit up like daytime . . . we figured they were filming a movie. Yikes!"
Even without the unplanned excitement, it was a fruitful trip during which they took in four plays, two with Houston connections. Enron, of course. And Red, a play about Mark Rothko, starring Alfred Molina, that was of special interest to Stages board member Sean Carter, the Rothko Chapel development director.
The Houston group, including Tom Paul, Gary Chiles and Emma Jacobs, hit popular Broadway haunts including Joe Allen, Bond 45 and Gordon Ramsay.
Houston-based, up-and-coming jewelry designer Katie Decker is on Cloud Nine with word that she has been selected for the JA New York New Designer Gallery in July. That's another feather in the cap of our young designer who will also be showing in the JCK Las Vegas "Rising Stars" show in June. The two are juried shows and it is a rare thing for a new designer to be chosen for both.
David Yurman and Penny Preville got their starts in the big-name jewelry business years ago at the New York show. And all of that makes Liz and Dr. Bill Decker very proud parents. Not to mention her former classmates at Kinkaid High School and her pals at Texas A&M, from where she graduates momentarily.
Houstonians can have a look-see at Katie Decker's wares and meet the young woman Wednesday, 5 to 9 p.m., at Kaylin Harr Jewelers on West Gray in River Oaks Shopping Center.
New event in town
The New York-based T.J. Martell Foundation entered Houston with a bang Thursday when Mimi and Tom Dompier opened their home for a "Wine Collector's" reception celebrating the non-profit's inaugural "Best Cellars Celebrity Dinner." That new Houston event is scheduled for September and will feature a celeb chef preparing a lavish four-course meal for serious wine collector participants (thus, "best cellars").
The Martell Foundation supports research in cancer, leukemia and AIDS. Proceeds from the evening will go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. With the foundation's entertainment world connections, some of the country's biggest music stars have participated in "Best Cellars Celebrity" dinners across the country. Expect one for Houston as well.
Joining the Dompiers in hosting the gathering were Jeanie and Jim Janke and Dennis Lord, foundation board member.
China Forbes, lead singer with the international band Pink Martini, celebrating her 40th birthday at Hugo's with band members and frriends . . .
Astro Hunter Pence the big celeb at a table at Mo's where Gregg Perkin was enjoying the dinner that he had purchased last fall at the Astros Wives Black Ties & Baseball Caps Gala. The party included Milo Hamilton, Tim Strickland,Ian Faria, Cormac Creavan, David Faure, Jim Collura and more . . .
My Table editor and founder Teresa Byrne-Dodge and uber hair stylist Cerón enjoying grapefruit margaritas and Sunday brunch on the terrace at RDG, where only a few tables away Channel 13 ABC reporter Rebecca Spera brunched with Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome . . .
Retired pro-athletes Eric Dickerson, N.D. Kalu, Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Clyde Drexler making the scene at Hearsay on Thursday . . .
Kathryn Rabinow, who co-chairs the Oct. 16 Children's Museum "30th Birthday Ball," at the Raven Grill with gala auction chairs Stacy Lewis Graubart and Anne Graubart.