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26 Mar

Knives Up, Wallets Out! How My Cooking Raises Money for Kids

My Cooking Raises Money for Kids! (For Real!)

If you had told me this time last year that I would be using my cooking skills to raise money for kids, I would have told you to put your crack pipe down. In all seriousness, I actually did raise a LOT of money for kids, had a great time, and scored a sweet auction deal that brought a celebrity chef to my home kitchen for an epic party. And in less than one week, this event will happen all over again!

It is called Cookin’ for Kids, and it’s a delicious dinner party wrapped around a high-energy, fast-paced Iron Chef-style cooking competition. It all goes down Sunday, March 31 from 6-9 pm at the Cendera Center in Fort Worth. Tickets are $150 each, and you can win a pair of them with a few other incredible goodies just by reading my full post and clicking the link at the end — how’s that for incentive!

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But first, I am sure Enquiring Minds want to know:
• What crazy nonprofit was willing to risk poisoning its supporters by asking me to cook at its benefit?
• How in the holy Texas hail balls did I cook something that raised gobs of cash?
• Who was the celebrity chef who came to mi casa, and
• What’s the deal this year?

Kids Who Care Musical Theater is Awesome!

The nonprofit behind Cookin’ for Kids is Kids Who Care. Its mission is to provide musical theater education and experiences to young people, which it’s been doing for more than 30 years. You may have seen one of the incredible original plays it puts on, or you’ve sent your child to its awesome summer camp.

But here’s something you may not know: Kids Who Care serves kids aged kindergarten through college, is inclusive of all kids regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, religion, orientation or ability, and it has never, ever turned away a student because of his or her ability or family’s financial hardship.

In addition to music, Kids Who Care also fosters cross-cultural connections through its international exchange programs and it develops leadership skills through programs to teach creative confidence, entrepreneurship and arts management on stage, at all developmental stages.

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How I Cooked for Cash and SMOKED the Competition!

Last year, Kids Who Care asked me to be a Fort Worth Notable, which is what they call the volunteer competitors who go spatula-to-spatula with an “arch nemesis” in the culinary deathmatch which makes up the main event at Cookin’ for Kids. My arch nemesis was none other than Hal Brown, publisher of Fort Worth Magazine. Hal is actually a dear friend, but that night it was ON like Donkey Kong: Magazine Publisher vs. Internet Blogger!

Of course, I knew I was going to DOM-inate, and here’s why. Every Notable gets paired up with a real, live chef for the competition, and my chef partner was the epicurean idol Blaine Staniford of GRACE restaurant.

Now take a breath cause I wasn’t the one preparing real food that people had to eat, but I did assist. And my hair looked really full and shiny thanks to those extensions I got at Novak Hair Studios before we attended the Academy Awards. I was the chic-est sous whoever did sous!

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Obvi we were the dream team and the CLEAR favorite to win, especially since Hapless Hal’s chef-partner was some no-name part-time burger flipper. (OK, it was really John Piccolino, the meat maestro of B&B Butchers & Restaurant, but this is my blog post, so I get to embellish the story.)

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On your mark, get set… we greased up the pans, cranked up the gas and said, “Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE!” For the next 45 minutes, I followed orders and micro-chopped the Buh-Jeez out of everything. Just like on the real Iron Chef TV show, every team had to include a specific “mystery ingredient” in their dish.

Cookin For Kids 2018

In the past, it’s been really rando stuff like boba bubble balls, Dr. Pepper, and pop tarts. Ours was gold leaf – so you know I felt totally at home, even though most of my interaction with gold involves wearing it, not eating it.

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We had a lot to deal with, y’all. Guests were coming right up to our table to check out the action. My arch nemesis was heckling us, and then there was the stress of the countdown clock! Then, it was over: Three, two, one… knives down! With the help of my sidekick, had concocted the most delicious masterpiece known to man.

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A team of people swooped in and whisked our plates off to a secret back room where James Beard winner and Head Judge Jon Bonnell and other local talented chefs critiqued the Holy Night out of our gold-infused gourmet grub.

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Here’s how my dish brought in the benjamins: Each plate of chef-prepared food transformed from a contest entry to an AUCTION ITEM! Guests could literally put their money where their mouth was and bid on whose dish they wanted to devour. Each plate of food also came with a spectacular collection of prizes.

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My sad competition was looking a little smug over there in the corner! They knew what was about to hit them. TOTAL DOMINATION!

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Our prize package consisted of a curated seven-course, wine-paired tasting dinner for four at GRACE, along with a killer collection of sports tickets and a VIP suite for your squad. I even threw in a bottle of DOM (remember, I told you we were going to DOM-inate!). Going once, going twice, and SOLD to Ronda & Walter Stucker!

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On top of auctioning off a dish to some poor unfortunate soul, Jon and his posse of judges were doling out awards to the best Micheline Masterpieces of the night. Oh yeah, you know it! Yours truly WON an award! To be honest, I was kinda expecting it! If you’ve dined at GRACE, you know what I’m talking about! Am I right?

Also taking home some cake that night:

  • Angelique De Luca (Hollywood Actress) & Laura Johnston of Bittersweet
  • Robin Greenhaw (The Balvenie) & Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s Hal
  • Hal Brown (Fort Worth Magazine) & John Piccolino of B&B Butchers
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It was a big win for us, for the Stuckers and of course, for Kids Who Care. Jason and I ended up bidding on a package offered by Keith Hicks of Buttons and Disc Jockey Erin Wilde another Notable/Chef team that night, and that’s how I ended up scoring a day on the air at 92.1 HANK FM and my FABULOUS DINNER PARTY …

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All About My Party and Being a DJ for a Day!

Bidding in a charity auction is a fun way to donate to a great cause. But let’s be real here. I do it because j’adore the VIP-ness of it all. I mean, most of what’s on the block are ultra-exclusive experiences that otherwise DO NOT EXIST – they are literally not available anywhere else at any price! Case in point, the Kinderfrogs auction item that allowed us to attend the Oscars.

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Cookin’ for Kids is no exception. When I won my prize package at Cookin’ for Kids, I felt a bandit who had made off with a real treasure. Not only did I get a unique and priceless experience, but the full amount of my purchase price went to Kids Who Care. Not only that, our involvement with the event last year helped raise the most money EVER in the history of Cookin’ For Kids.

Here’s my full winning prize package: Co-DJ-ing with Erin Wilde of 92.1 HANK FM for the day, including production planning and having the ONE, the ONLY, Mogul of Soul Food, Chef Keith “Buttons” Hicks host a turn-key experience in a private home for 12. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water for the specialty organic fried chicken and grass-fed tenderloins he cooked just for us. Check out the photos, y’all:

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This Sunday’s Celebrity Chef/FW Notable Line-up!

As amazing as last year was, I am confident this year will be bigger, better and even more delicious! Hal and I were asked to be Honorary co-chairs this year, and we’ve been working feverishly to line up the very best of everything.

Joining us as Notables, we’ve got famous country singer Pat Green and his lovely wife Kori, jewelry and handbag queen of America! (hoping he’ll bust out with a spontaneous serenade!) And get this, I made a quick call to my two girlfriends, Carter Martin and Hannah Davis, who just so happen to be heiresses to the Amon Carter and the Kimball Art Museums. It’s a full-on Clash of Cultures! Oh, and have you ever wanted to see the GMs of Autobahn and Park Place Mercedes go at it neck to neck? That will definitely drive up the price of their dishes, especially when paired with what can only be unbelievably unique LIVE auction packages. What’s a charity fundraiser without Julie Hayes and Kim Johnson, Fort Worth’s top two decorators to society elites. Don’t be shocked if there’s hair pulling by nights end! Bringing up the tail end are Kristi Mayfield and Tara Wilson, former Merrill Lynch Stockbrokers Gone Wild.

Ok, I bet your mouth is drooling to see who are the top 10 Cuisiniers from the very best restaurants our city has to offer – AKA the folks who will actually be doing the cooking. Did you know that almost no one turned me down when I asked them to participate? We have chefs from the top French, Mediterranean and Steak restaurants! We also have the very best in Southern, Soul, and Mexican.

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Tickets are $150 each or you can grab a bunch of friends and fill a table starting at $2500. (Sorry, $1500 tables have sold out.) And if any of my friends or friends of my parents are reading this, you best PURCHASE HERE to get yours asap, or you might end up on my poop list! $eriously, your $upport would mean the world to u$!

Photography by Laura McCarthy & Zuilma Gonzalez

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY!!!

And, as promised, here’s my contest, and as usual, it’s a good one!

  • TWO tickets to Cookin For Kids, but wait; there’s more. $300 Value
  • Pair that with FOUR tickets to a Kids Who Care performance. $100 Value
  • Plus ONE week of Kids Who Care Summer Camp. $295 Value
  • And you’ll also get dinner with wine for FOUR, personally cooked for you by Keith Hicks’s at his restaurant, Buttons. $300 Value

Good luck everyone and I’ll see you this Sunday – bring your wallet and be sure to wear your eatin’ pants, because you will not want to miss out on one tasty bite!

*** Must read the Terms & Conditions in the Rafflecopter link below for the official rules and disclaimers for this giveaway. I would hate for you to miss follow all of the steps and your entries not qualify.***

5 Dec

Brunch, Bubbly, and Balenciaga in Black at The Kimbell Art Museum

A Behind the Seams Look into the World of Art, Fashion and Fort Worth Society

I recently attended a very special brunch held in the Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum, highlighting the museum’s latest exhibit Balenciaga in Black, from the Palais Galliera, Paris’ distinguished Fashion Museum, and the Balenciaga Archives, also in Paris.

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This event not only highlighted the work of one of the most influential fashion designers in history, Cristobal Balenciaga and the museum’s latest exhibit, Balenciaga in Black, but also allowed VIP guests to partake in an exclusive tour led by the exhibition’s organizing curator, Jennifer Casler Price.

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Kimbell Ken Downing Niemand Marcus Balenciaga Jennifer Casler Price

The Kimbell Art Museum in partnership with Neiman Marcus Fort Worth, hosted the event to celebrate the new exhibit. The HeART of Neiman Marcus Foundation supports the Kimbell Kids program through a four year commitment of $100,000.

Watching Ken Downing, the famed Neiman Marcus fashion director and senior vice president, and the Kimbell’s deputy director, George Shackelford, discuss Balenciaga’s impressive career and enduring influence on fashion was pretty awesome to say the least. Fort Worth LOVES Ken and his bigger than life personality.

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At Neiman’s, Ken Downing determines the taste, trends, attitudes and ideas that the luxury department store embraces each season. In fact, Ken advised on every detail of this event from the flowers, stage backdrop and furniture to the table linens and menu, which was a lovely Balenciaga-inspired brunch catered by City Club of Fort Worth.

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Kimbell Ken Downing Niemand Marcus Balenciaga
Kimbell Ken Downing Niemand Marcus Balenciaga
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These unique, intimate touches sparked a newfound interest in my appreciation for art and fashion. I soaked in the beauty and magnificence of the works on display, on top of the opportunity to ask personalized questions during the event.

Who is Cristobal Balenciaga?

Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972) was known as “the couturier’s couturier,” the designer most admired by other fashion designers. He was born in Basque Spain, a fishing village, and learned how to sew from his mother.

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Black you ask? The folklore and traditions of his Spanish childhood were the sources and inspirations for this collection of more than one hundred garments and accessories. And black because it reveals the impressive silhouettes and simple cuts favored by the artist.

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Kimbell Ken Downing Neiman Marcus Balenciaga SoFortWorthIt

He trained as a tailor and began his career as the head of ladies tailoring at a department store in Spain. This background helped Balenciaga become an expert in cutting fabric with attention to contour and shape, and meticulous construction.

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Kimbell Ken Downing Neiman Marcus Balenciaga SoFortWorthIt

Balenciaga used infinite types of fabric in varying shades of black, each carefully selected to emphasize the shapes, volumes and silhouettes of his unique creations, which were often adorned with lace, embroidery, silk, satin, fringes, beads, sequins and fur.

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Kimbell Ken Downing Neiman Marcus Balenciaga SoFortWorthIt
Kimbell Ken Downing Neiman Marcus Balenciaga SoFortWorthIt

Goya in Black and White

I mean, if you’re going to see the Balenciaga exhibit, you might as well take a hot minute and pop over to the Goya in Black and White exhibit just 20 feet away. Francisco de Goya just so happens to be my very favorite Spanish printmaker, an appreciation I formed while studying Art History at SMU.

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In the Goya exhibition you really get to see the folklore and history of Balenciaga’s birthplace graphically illustrated. I even spotted a few garments that may have inspired him, such as the lace dress the seated woman is wearing in this printed title, Pretty Advice.

And this one, ironically titled What a Tailor Can Do, where the ruching in the cape almost looks like the ruching in this dress Balenciaga created in 1956.

The Kimbell Art Museum is one of the cities best treasures.

From Monet and Renoir to Balenciaga and Goya, the Kimbell Art Museum continually debuts unparalleled, special exhibitions with loans from some of the world’s most prestigious collections.

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The museum’s architecture is unrivaled. The original Louis Kahn-designed building is regarded as one of the “outstanding achievements of the modern era.” Even Kanye West can attest to this as he visited the Kimbell on November 3rd! However, what’s most impressive, is what’s on display in their galleries.

With a permanent collection that includes world-famous European masterworks and rare pieces from Africa, Asia, and the Ancient Americas, the Kimbell Art Museum will leave you with a sense of wonder and heightened, if not a newfound sense of cultural appreciation.

Member Perks at the Kimbell

My family and I have participated in the museum’s membership program for many years and reaped the benefits of their unrivaled art experiences. I always look forward to member events at the Kimbell, as I know they are nothing short of fabulous. And I especially enjoy The Red Party, an ultra-trendy event which benefits Kimbell Kids Education Programs.

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If you are not currently taking advantage of the bountiful benefits of a Kimbell Art Museum membership, I would highly consider it for a number of reasons. For starters, a visit to the Kimbell will ignite your senses and transport your mind. SO, get out there and flex your cultural muscle and find some art to appreciate.

Also, it’s always free to view their permanent collection but membership gets you free admission to the special exhibitions all year! And I just heard that Monet’s Waterlilies will be here next summer in their Monet: The Later Year’s exhibit so get your membership now to be among the first to see it.

And with Christmas right around the corner, you can give you friends and family a whole year of experiences for as little as $75. Now that’s what I call the gift that keeps on giving!

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Photography  credit  Laura McCarthy & Kimbell 

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY

Y’all, I am sooo excited about this giveaway, I can hardly stand it! The Kimbell has given me permission to give away as many tickets as I want for the Balenciaga exhibit. Wow! Holy cow, right? (follow me on IG and FB for more chances to win tickets)

So here is the scoop, to celebrate this super cool giveaway, not only am I giving away a 4 pack of tickets, but I am tossing in lunch for 4 at the Kimbell Buffet too. Wahoooooo!

Please read the OFFICIAL TERMS & CONDITIONS located in the Rafflecopter link below.