Shelby About Town
Cooking up summer fun and taste experiences in Houston and beyond
Tantalizing aromas filled the ballroom of the Hilton Americas Houston when professional chefs and amateurs joined forces to cook up a storm for Cancer Counseling's annual "Let the Guys Cook" fundraiser. It was a friendly competition that had just about everyone going home with honors for creativity, culinary skills and hijinks.
Guests and professional judges perused the offerings that ranged from Arturo Boada's veal ravioli with truffle walnut sauce, winner of the People's Choice Award to John Sheely's slow-braised veal short ribs. Sheely raised the most in silent auction for his chef's tasting dinner at Mockingbird Bistro.
"Pooky's Soul in a Bowl" seafood gumbo won John Andell, Jay Cliburn and David de Roode top honors for Most Delicious and People's Choice. And, really, that win had nothing to do with the fact that de Roode chaired the benefit evening or that Andell co-chaired along with John McAleer and Barrett Webster.
Proceeds from the cooking celebration support Cancer Counseling's mission of providing free professional therapy to individuals and families dealing with the emotional effects of cancer. Joining the culinary fray were chefs including Café Chino's May Chan and Randall Chan, Canopy's Claire Smith and Merlion on 4th's Andrew Lobeck.
And among the guys teaming up to strut their culinary stuff were James Gietz, Jon Paul Hull, Dennis Patillo, Mark Freeze, Ken Richter and Lou Wilson.
Cooking for New York charity
Popular chef Robert Del Grande, the toque behind RDG + Bar Annie, is just back from New York where he was one of the nationally-acclaimed chefs to participate in the 25th anniversary of Silver Spoons, the benefit for Citymeals-on-Wheels saluting the memory of James Beard, co-founder of the charity that provides meals for homebound elderly New Yorkers.
Del Grande was one of 28 chefs invited to showcase their unique cuisines for more than 1,000 guests who packed Rockefeller Plaza for the al fresco evening. Celebrity chefs included Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Jonathan Waxman, Nobu and Alford Portale. Our boy was a semi-finalist for Outstanding Chef in the James Beard Foundation Awards this year and was the only Houston chef invited to the prestigious Silver Spoons event.
Toting a load of Texas love to New York, Del Grande tempted palettes with "Texas Redfish and Rider," smoked redfish with barbecued Texas Gulf oysters. Yum!
Curtain going up
Well, it won't be open until September, but work is underway at the new Americas location in River Oaks Shopping Center. It was back and forth for a while as rumors swirled that Michael Cordua would and then would not be moving into the second-level location at the corner of West Gray and Shepherd. It's definitely a go.
At 9,000 square feet, the space all on one level looks mammoth in its current construction mode but design elements and two private party rooms will create a more intimate atmosphere.
And, yes, that uber-creative design team of Jordan Mozer, which fashioned the whimsical interiors at Americas on Post Oak Boulevard, is joining Cordua in this effort. We are told that the new incarnation will have a more feminine feel than the Star Wars vibe of the original. The Post Oak location, by the way, will remain open through 2013.
Look for a series of charitable opening parties on West Gray including events for Houston Zoo, Latin Women's Initiative, Casa de Esperanza and the Children's Museum. Stay tuned for the schedule.
Saint Arnold Brewing Co.'s headquarters on the edge of downtown was the place to be when Consolidated Wealth Management's Christopher Mendel and Insgroup's Greg Scheinman hosted friends and clients to a private happy hour beer tasting. In the heady mix were Monsour Taghdisi, Nick Stefanakis, Coert Vorhees, Cenk Ozdogan and Nick Florescu.
Rocky Mountain high
It's an endless stream of social bulletins from Aspen where it seems that half of high-profile Houston is spending the summer. Ajax Tavern at the base of Ajax Mountain was crawling with Houstonians at lunch recently.
Schmoozing and grazing beneath the colorful terrace umbrellas were Ibiza maestro Charles Clark and his steady Kristin McKean, Lisa and Michael Holthouse, Mindy Hildebrand, Betsy and Tod Eason, Catalan chef Chris Shepherd and wife Rocio Gonzalez of Miner Wines, and Jennifer and Lance Gilliam.
The chefs were there partaking of the Aspen Food & Wine Classic as were the Easons and Gilliams.
Business on high
Patrick Henry, founder of Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, is just back from Aspen as well where as head of the food and beverage marketing agency he orchestrated a bunch of swell get-togethers for his big-name clients.
He coordinated private parties for clients McCormick & Schmick's, Hard Rock International and Ruby Tuesday, just to name a few. For one event, he took over the popular Ralph Lauren store where guests sipped on champagne and other libations and received gift cards. Now that's a party favor! Among guests attending another event were Jana and Scotty Arnoldy and Jean Marie and Robert Alpert.
Joining Henry in Aspen were staffers Michelle Fossett, Vonna Taylor and Jess Hix. Among the food celebrities that his team met with was Giada De Laurentiis.