Society / Featured Parties

Historic River Oaks Home Turns Into an Outdoor Dining Wonderland With Star Chefs and a Vital Fetal Center Cause

Dreamy Florals and a Dinner to Swoon Over From Aaron Bludorn

BY // 05.12.22
photography Priscilla Dickson

Only hours before start time of the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital dinner in Melissa Juneau‘s newly renovated River Oaks home, award-wining interior designer Courtnay Tartt Elias scurried to complete the final touches just as the Maxit Floral Design team hustled to perfect the florals and renowned chef Aaron Bludorn‘s squad prepared for a remarkable four course dinner.

Thus, when doors to the Birdsall P. Briscoe home (which dates back to 1927) opened to the carefully curated guest list of 140, all was perfection. The evening was billed as “Al Fresco: Dine Under the Stars with Houston’s Brightest.”

Beginning with the host committee — Monica Bickers, Allie Fields, Stephanie Fleck, Casey Hedges, Edie Lee, Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell, Anne Lee Phillips, Alex Stillwell — attendees represented parents with young children and parents with a certain profile in the community.

The point of the dinner event was to introduce guests to Children’s Memorial Hermann’s The Fetal Center, where the hospital’s affiliated physicians perform in-utero surgeries and fetoscopic procedures for fetal spina bifida, twin-twin transfusion syndrome and other fetal conditions as well as to remind that Children’s Memorial Hermann has a 332-bed hospital in the Texas Medical Center. Interspersed at the tables were hospital physicians and leadership who shared the story.

Florals were magnificent throughout the historic home and across the clear-tented dinner arena that took place atop the covered swimming pool and terrace. Crystal chandeliers and strings of Tivoli lights dazzled overhead. Tabletops were dressed in lavish floral arrangements and crystal candle holders with ivory tapers. Foliage on the four olive trees that flank the terrace fluttered in the air conditioning.

The table settings featured spring green and blush china, gold matte silverware and a place card matching the event’s beautiful hand-delivered invitation – complete with a Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital-imprinted gold wax seal.

CMHH 34 (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
The Children’s Memorial Hermann al fresco dinner in a 1927 Briscoe P. Birdsall home in River Oaks (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Chef Bludorn was accompanied on this evening by his popular business partner Cherif Mdjodi. Both earned kudos for the yummy dinner that featured what the chef described as Bludorn’s “Biggest Hits” — a flash-fried squash blossom dish, short rib and fig ravioli, beef tenderloin and lobster tail “surf and turf,” and a dessert bonanza featuring lemon sable Breton and devil’s food cake.

Guests savored their curated dishes while listening to event speakers Memorial Hermann Foundation CEO Anne NeesonChildren’s Memorial Hermann Hospital CEO Marissa Kiefer, and Dr. KuoJen Tsao, co-director of The Fetal Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and professor and chief of Pediatric Surgery, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.

CMHH 22 (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Jason & Stacy Johnson at the Children’s Memorial Hermann al fresco dinner (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Following the program, Las Vegas band Justin & the Swing Beats provided a fun mix of Sinatra classics and ’70s pop.

All aspects of the remarkable evening were in the able hands of Deutser, management consultants, with the firm’s Lauren Gow serving as creative director.

PC Seen: Host committee spouses Curtis Bickers, Jay Fields, Ryan Fleck, Will Hedges, Albert Lee, Derrick Mitchell, Bobby Stillwell, and Matthew Phillips, plus April and Wells McGee, Christine Falgout-Gutknecht and Bill Gutknecht; Ann and Jonathan Ayre, Alice and Keith Mosing, Laurie Krohn, Stacy and Jason Johnson, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, Katie and Scott Arnoldy, Rachel and Tom Regan, Dr. Vicki Regan, Dr. Mary Aitken, and Jill and Brad Deutser.

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