Society / Featured Parties

11 Top Houston Chefs Prepare a Jaw-Dropping 10 Course Meal at a Lakeside Mansion

Now That’s a Recipe for Success

BY // 05.16.18

Sometimes, it takes a village. Other times it takes a village and one determined woman. That would be a village of chefs and one energetic redhead, Gracie Cavnar, founder of Recipe for Success. Put these forces together for the annual “Delicious Alchemy” evening and you have one spectacular, not to mention oh-so-tasty, soirée.

For the 10-course dinner, prepared by 11 of the city’s leading chefs, Lisa and Michael Holthouse opened their fabulous Italianate villa, a beautiful lakeside setting that echoed the homeland of the evening’s sponsor, Italian fashion brand Brunello Cucinelli. Thus, the “Evening in Tuscany” theme.

Guests gathered in the Holthouse front courtyard where Negronis, Italian wines and rosemary vodka lemonade anchored the theme along with a grand antipasto presentation by Culinaire chef chair Barbara McKnight, featuring Black Hills Ranch charcuterie from chef Felix Florez. Their contributions and that of chef Arturo Boada‘s (Arturo Boada Cuisine) shrimp and fish ceviche served as first and second courses.

Then it was off to the backyard for poolside dining under the stars for the 92 lucky guests who had snagged tickets to the fundraiser. By the time they had finished the final course of the evening and had ended bidding on a trip to Cucinelli’s medieval hamlet Solomeo, Italy, the night had surpassed its goal and brought in more than $235,000. Four eager patrons each ponied up $5,000 for the invitation to visit the company’s headquarters.

Thank you, Cynthia Petrello, Ralph Eads, Sheree Frede and John McCauley. And, thank you, Cucinelli team for agreeing to extend the invitation to four visits.

Dining under strings of party lights, guests were served chef Kevin Naderi‘s (Roost) marinated spring vegetable salad with Vietnamese-inspired vinaigrette. Next came the lobster bisque with lobster flan from La Table chef Vincent Celeste. Chef Olivier Ciesielski of L’Olivier served a stunning butternut squash ravioli with sage truffle sauce as the fifth course. For serving number six, Amalfi Ristorante chef Giancarlo Ferrara made his mark with Mediterranean sea bass filet poached with olive oil, capers and lemon zest.

Was there still room for the seventh course? Of course, for who could pass up chef Maurizio Ferrarese‘s (Sud Italia Ristorante) duck leg with English peas and forest mushrooms?

Then there were the mouth-watering short ribs from chef Hassan Abaye of Le Colonial. The sweet finish a la table was chef José Hernandez‘s (Lucienne) chocolate mousse with pistachio powder, coconut wafer and passion fruit gel. Upon guests’ departure, Canopy chef Claire Smith provided to-go boxes of cannoli, making that by Cavnar’s count, 10 mouth-watering courses.

Taste makers: Bob Cavnar, Karen and Roland Garcia, Jessica and Tom Roupe, Kristin and Aaron Bloomquist, Stephanie and Ernie Cockrell, Zina Garrison, Melissa and Doug Schnitzer, Emily and Robert Clay, Holly and Austin Alvis, Karen and Murry Penner, Curry Glassell, Lucinda and Javier Loya, Shamika Johnson, and Kara and Ray Childress.

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