Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Rock Star Chefs Leave Their Restaurants for a Wine Dinner to Remember

One of the City's Biggest Food Nights Sets Another Record

BY // 09.30.19
photography Daniel Ortiz

It’s difficult to imagine three rock star chefs leaving their kitchens on a busy Thursday night in order to cook a meal for the throng filling the ballroom of Hotel ZaZa in the Museum District. Yet, there they were — Eunice’s Drake Leonards, Étoile Cuisine et Bar’s Philippe Verpiand and BCN/MAD’s Luis Roger.

The restaurants’ kitchen loss was our gain when this trio, under stewardship of chef chairman Mark Cox, joined forces with Hotel ZaZa’s pastry chef Kristy Quach to create a four-course gourmet dinner that annually bests every chef-driven charity fundraiser in the city. On this 10th anniversary of the T.J. Martel Foundation Best Cellars Houston dinner, a new record of more than $258,000 was raised for the Physician-Scientist Program at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The glory of this evening is equally based on the wine hosts, who delve into their private cellars, thoughtfully pairing wines with each of the menu offerings. Our table, hosted by the event chair Franelle Rogers and wine hosts chair Robert Sakowitz, was treated to wealth of extraordinary vino.

Wines were paired with chef Verpiand‘s seared yellowfin tuna served with eggplant-tomato confit Napoleon, zucchini mousseline and balsamic caramelized onions; chef Roger‘s roasted quail stuffed with a heavenly marriage of onions, porcini mushrooms, and foie gras served with celery root purée, sautéed artichokes and glazed salsify; chef Leonards’ grilled beef tenderloin accompanied by farro, lobster, black truffles and butternut squash; and chef Quach’s symphony of desserts that included a a marble chocolate globe encasing a vanilla savarin tart filled with mango mousse and chocolates, an all-chocolate tart topped with a dipped key lime pie bite, and a waffle-dipped chocolate bite and chocolate shells filled with raspberry mousse.

Once again, the energized and booming Shawn Parr, nationally syndicated radio host, served as emcee and auctioneer stirring guests to dig deep into their pockets.

Also tradition with this dinner hosted by the Nashville-based foundation is a performance by big-name country entertainers. Pat Green was the star on this evening and the moment he entered through the back of the ballroom, fans surrounded him for selfies. Following Green’s set, guests moved to the hotel’s Ultimate Ransom Room for the rocking after-party that featured award- winning songwriters Rob Hatch and Justin Wilson.

PC Scene: Honorary chairs Carolyn Faulk, Cathy and David Herr, Jeanie and Jim Janke, and Dean Putterman; plus Julie and Stephen Chen, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin, Margaret and TJ Farnsworth, Guy Stout, Mark Bermann, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Suzanne Duin Stewart and Michael Stewart, Cathy Brock, Rose Cullen, Dale Robertson, Carol and Bill Simmons, Chantell Preston, Norelle and Brian Becker, Cindy and Chip Beaver, and Jennifer and Nick Altman.

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