Society / Featured Parties

New $5.5 Million Youth Development Center Puts Beloved Houston Couple Shelby and Shafik’s Names in the Spotlight

Bon Vivant Dinner Brings the City's Top Chefs to New 713 Music Hall

BY // 04.27.22

Returning from a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the Youth Development Center’s Bon Vivant Houston dinner promised a culinary experience to remember.

It lived up to its pledge and then some with an emphasis on fine dining from some of Houston’s top chefs — along with a big announcement that had the excited crowd applauding the evening’s honorees, PaperCity society & lifestyle editor Shelby Hodge and her husband, architect Shafik Rifaat.

As a surprise to the couple, co-chair Richard Flowers announced that the kitchen and cafe at the nonprofit’s $5.5 million complex will be named in honor of Hodge and Rifaat. The Youth Development Center provides an after-school academic intervention program for at-risk students in grades one through sixth in Houston’s Greater Fifth Ward. The state-of-the-art building also has three technology-based learning labs, two homework study halls, counseling rooms and a library.

“For those of you who don’t know, Shelby is one hell of a cook,” Flowers says. “She makes the best central Louisiana gumbo there is. And Shafik, well, he can cook a mean fish.”

He noted Hodge’s longtime support of Houston’s nonprofit scene, pointing out that the Youth Development Center would not have reached its current status without her articles showcasing previous Bon Vivant dinners and her coverage of the center’s building plans.

In trying to articulate what Hodge and Rifaat mean to the Houston social scene, Flowers mulled over the idea recently with Houston social lioness Lynn Wyatt, who came up with a little ditty that sums up the couple’s impact. Flowers read it to the delighted audience:

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“Shelby is always on the go, and we read her column to be in the know.

Shafik is always there because he goes with her everywhere.

We are pleased that he is here and been married to Shelby for 34 years.”

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Angel Rios, Lynn Wyatt, Richard Flowers at the Bon Vivant Dinner benefitting Youth Development Center (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

The dinner, held at the new 713 Music Hall, part of the POST food hall and entertainment venue in downtown Houston, featured 22 chefs — each assigned to create an out-of-this-world multi-course gourmet dinner for a table of 10 guests. The chefs went all-out with their creations, which included Chawanmushi, a savory Japanese egg custard and foie gras broth served in a delicate hollowed-out eggshell from chef Billy Kin of the new 5 Kinokawa restaurant, and a creamy Sasania Kaluga Caviar salad from Monarch Hospitality chef Victor Santiago.

A very social group, including Wyatt, Flowers, Angel Rios, Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin delighted in risotto cooked tableside by Alba Ristorante chef Maurizio Ferrarese while a table led by Sheridan Williams, Isaac Niaz, Vesta Frommer, Janet Gurwitch, Karen and Mike Mayell, Hodge and Rifaat swooned over authentic Italian dishes from Concura restaurant chef Angelo Cuppone, working with owner Alessio Ricci.

The chef contingent also included Adison Lee of Kuu, Andre Garza of Roots, Ara Malekian of Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Brad Eugene of Harold’s Restaurant Bar & Terrace, Brandon Wriser of Hidden Omakase, Felix Florez of Cherry Block Craft Butcher & Texas Market, Giancarlo Ferrara of Amalfi Ristorante Italiano Bar and Jason Cole of Willie G’s.

Also showcasing the breadth and depth of the Houston restaurant scene were J.D. Woodward of 1751 Sea & Bar, Jonathan Levine of Jonathan’s the Rub, Kevin Bryant of Roma, Manuel-David “Manny” Menchaca of Vic and Anthony’s, Martin Weaver of Watever Fresh, Peter “Pedro” Garcia of El Meson, Sei Kim of 1600 B+G in the Hilton Americas-Houston, Shannen Tune of Dining With the Tunes, Thomas Stacy of ReikiNa, and Tony Luhrman of El Topo.

Tony’s contributed a multi-course dinner for 10 with wines for the brief live auction.

PC Seen: YDC executive director Jason Skaer, dinner cohost and YDC board member Kristen Barley, Wildly popular hat designers Teressa Foglia and Tyler Hays Wild, Kathy and Jody McCord, Cherri Carbonara and Tom McGhie, Samira Salman, Migon and Steve Gill, Duyen Huynh and Marc Nguyen, Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, Youth Development Center executive director Jason Skaer and board members Jennifer Whitley, Patrice McKinney, Andrew Browning, Harvey Davis, Melissa Fordyce, Craig Friou, Kurt Keller, Doug Kelly, Florencio Mata Jr., and Chuck Yates.

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