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Houston’s 26 Top Chefs Prepare Dinner in One Room Amid Behind the Scenes Drama: The Foodie Event of the Year

BY // 04.04.17
photography David Postma of Genesis

Once again, the ballroom of the Royal Sonesta Hotel was perfumed with the heady essence of dinner being prepared by 26 chefs who joined in this once-a-year, very special evening. The Youth Development Center‘s “Bon Vivant” continues to be one of the culinary highlights of the non-profit fundraising year.

Where else could you traverse a ballroom setting and visit with some of the city’s top chefs and watch them in action, much less sit down for an intimate dinner prepared table side by one of the culinary masters?

Practically since its inception, the “Bon Vivant” evening has been a sellout, raising serious dollars for the after-school academic program for students in the Fifth Ward. The most recent literally delicious evening raised $200,000.

If only we had known the mini-drama behind the scenes. It was revealed only a week later that Bon Vivant regular Danny Trace of Brennan’s is departing the venerable restaurant on Friday. At the moment, no word on where he his headed. But to think if the lucky diners whom he cooked for had only known, what a swan song it could have been.

Our table, hosted by one of several founding chairs Richard Flowers, had the happy karma of landing ArtisansJacques Fox for chef. He wowed his diners with a sublime six-course menu starting with a caviar amuse bouche, then on to foie gras au torchon on toasted brioche, terrine de fruits de mer with lobster bisque, a sorbet intermezzo, beef Wellington entree with foie gras demi-glace, and for dessert strawberry mousse with chocolate genoise and mint macaroon. That is just a sampling of the superb meals served to the sellout gathering of 260 — 26 chefs, 10 guests at each table.

Thank you to all the chefs, including Royal Sonesta’s Robert Graham, Weights + Measures Richard Kaplan, Silver Stone Events Elizabeth Stone, Pax Americana’s Martha De Leon, Cafe Rabelais’s Michael Nutt, and Harold’s Antoine Ware.

Dining in style: Chairs Kristen Barley, Richard Flowers, Melissa and Doug Fordyce, and Rob Hallett; Bonnie Hellums and Carol Stith, Patrice and Pete McKinney, Cynthia and Bucky Allshouse, Sheridan and John Eddie Williams, Rita and Wade Smith and YDC director Mary Nell Jones.

Curated Collection