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Society / Featured Parties

Dancers, Fine Dining and a French Wonderland — This Houston Party Raises the Barre (Again)

Ballet in the Kitchen

BY // 05.06.19
photography Daniel Ortiz

Dance and dining — that improbable partnership plays out in a delicious pas de deux each spring when Houston Ballet couples with a handful of the city’s leading chefs to present an unforgettable dancer-inspired dinner. So it was when Artisans Restaurant chef/owner Jacques Fox once again opened his swank Midtown restaurant for “Raising the Barre.”

Enhancing Artisans’ already sleek ambience, Bergner & Johnson filled the restaurant with flowers, compliments of the evening’s sponsor BB&T, and classical guitarist Mark Moore provided the sound track, both setting the stage for the evening.

The ninth annual event, chaired by Amy LeBlanc Cloud and Jeremy Cloud with Beth Muecke serving as honorary chair, entertained the 170-plus diners in style as four leading Houston Ballet talents joined the chefs in the kitchen for a record-breaking evening that saw ballet coffers enriched by more than $100,000.

We can’t be certain how familiar these dancers are with a kitchen but there is no doubt that they were on their toes when joining the talented chefs at the range. Soloist Bridget Kuhns partnered with Uchi chef Chris Davies for the first course dish comprised of salmon belly, Asian pear, smoked trout roe and cherry tomato. Demi soloist and Alabama native Natalie Varnum joined One Fifth chef Matt Staph in the creation of a surprising combo of jalapeno cornbread, Alabama white sauce, green apple and crispy chicken skin.

Chef Fox and principal Ian Casady took center stage with the entree, “Ian Casady Beef Wellington,” consisting of beef, shrimp de jonghe, French mashed potatoes, baby carrots, braised shiitake mushrooms and bok choy with a red wine demi-glace.

“Texas has spoken,” proclaimed the chef in his charming French accent. “Meat from the land and seafood from the Gulf, with flair and elegance. Very stylish and delicious!”

For dessert, Fluff Bake Bar owner/pastry chef Rebecca Masson was joined by soloist Aaron Daniel Sharratt for creation of “The Sundae of Aaron’s Dreams.” Could there be any more delicious calories than those in this combo of cookie dough ice cream, brownies, Cocoa Pebble Crunch cereal and hot fudge? Just in case guests’ sugar high wasn’t high enough, each departed with a “Raising the Barre” themed cookie from Houston Cookie Crew.

PC Seen: Ann Trammell, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Lilly and Harrison Cullen, Drs. Michael Hawkins and Liliana Soltero, Lindsey Brown and Chris Shepherd, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Mignon and Stephen Gill, Laura and Brannon Robertson, Lauren and Herschel Hamner, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Elizabeth and Charlie Leykum, Duyen and Marc Nguyen and Houston Ballet managing director Jim Nelson.

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