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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.***

9 Feb

Bring on the Bling with YLANG23 for Valentine’s Day

Enjoy Accessorizing Any Outfit During the Month of Love with Fort Worth’s Latest Designer Jewelry Boutique at The Shops at Clearfork. 

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the bling, and when Fort Worth’s newest jewelry store, Ylang 23, asked me to collaborate with them on a VIP party experience, I was tickled pink  — as in, pink diamonds, pink sapphires and pink tourmalines, oh my!

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Ylang 23 opened in The Shops at Clearfork late last year, but it’s been open in Dallas since 1985 when owners Joanne & Charles Teichman got this crazy brilliant idea to feature fine jewelry made by independent designers. They pretty much started the designer jewelry trend. Remember the iconic Ylang Ylang store in the Dallas Galleria back in the day? Yeah, that’s them. How cool is that?

Charles and Joanne Teichman, the owners of Ylang 23, at home in Preston Hollow with the family dogs, Tuey (white) and Eddie (black).  The Teichmans bought Neil Raitt's painting, "Cabinectomy",  from The Goss-Michael Foundation.  Photography by Mei-Chun Jau for FD Magazine.

Many of the biggest names in jewelry have been with Ylang 23 since the beginning, like Cathy Waterman and Irene Neuwirth. Because of the many incredible relationships they have fostered in this industry, you can work one-on-one with a designer to craft your own precious couture piece, or just go pret-a-porter and choose from the boutique’s amazing selection with prices starting at $110!

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Will the REAL Super Bowl Party please stand up!

Forget the Superbowl – last Sunday was SuperBLING Sunday. Together with the Teichman’s daughter, Alysa, Fort Worth store manager, Bhavini, and my sweet friend April, we threw the shiniest, most sparkly-ist jewelry party ever. Actually, it was two parties: a super-exclusive VIP breakfast followed by an afternoon reception.

And every time I think about the spectacular Retrouvai Compass necklace I wore at the party – before my mom LITERALLY BOUGHT IT RIGHT OFF MY NECK, I get butterflies. Especially since she has promised to let me borrow it, I will definitely be planning that request sooner than later.

Speaking of planning…now that I’m vegan, the fruit kabobs helped detoured my appetite when I encounter the miniature chicken and waffles. Those were just some of the posh noshes that Clearfork’s B&B Butchers & Restaurant created for brunch. I still can’t get over how adorable they were.

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All the pretty ladies, all the pretty ladies!

The whole morning was a crazy whirlwind, and before I knew it, the DJ turned it up! Party #2 – the big 300-people-on-the-guest-list main event – had begun! It was, as they say in the jewelry business, OFF THA’ CHAIN! (Sorry, I can’t help it!)

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Among the most delicious details were the sweets and treats.

There was a Valentine’s Day dessert bar! An all-pink bag-your-own candy bar! Champagne and mimosas! Door prizes from B&B Butchers & Restaurant, Pinstripes, Fixe Southern House and The Bar Method, all located in Clearfork (to see who won, click here).

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Even the party favors were divine. Little books with jewelry styling tips and adorable Ring Pops in clear boxes all wrapped up with Ylang 23 signature ribbon.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

I’ll admit, I arrived at Ylang 23 about 20 minutes early that day for the sales associates to “dress” me. Not only did they hook me up with a “neckmess” of amazing pieces, all coordinated to achieve their signature layered look, but I also got in some “me time” to browse.

As they say in the jewelry business, it rocked! Seriously, I’m still on cloud nine from the thrill of getting to wear THAT MUCH fabulous jewelry at once.

I knew with all the swooning and the chit-chatting ahead of me, I wouldn’t have a chance to help my husband. What did I do for him? I compiled a shopping list of my favorite pieces to make Valentine’s Day gifting a cake walk. Jason if you’re reading this, You’re welcome!

SYDNEY EVAN: Large Diamond Love Script Necklace $1610 | Small Ruby Lips Necklace $1585

Christy’s Top Favorite Ylang 23 Gifts for Valentine’s Day!

Ok, don’t get me wrong. If I had a money tree planted in my back yard, I would buy half the jewelry sold at Ylang 23. But since I don’t, I’ve listed a small sampling of baubles, at various price points, that I think you will like.

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JORDAN ASKILL: Red Heart Necklace $325 | Pink or Black Heart Necklace $475 | Heart Rings $225 | Heart Bracelets $285

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SYDNEY EVAN: Love Necklace $840 | JENNIFER MEYER: Open Heart Necklace $875 | HEATHER B. MOORE: Love Amour Charm $490 | XO Diamond Charm $410 | Quartz Drop $60 | Chain $1230 | MARLA AARON: Red Enamel Heart Lock $1100 | Chain $1606

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IRENE NEUWIRTH: Extra Large Flat Heart Necklace $7370

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CATHY WATERMAN: Green Emerald $17990 | Antique Diamond $23950 | Blue Saphire $15710

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SHAY: Floating Diamond Heart $3780 | MARLA AARON: Rose Gold Lock $355 | Rose Gold Diamond Chubby Lock $6150 | Rose Gold Diamond Heart Lock $1863 | Rose Gold Chain $343 | Stainless Steel Chain $112

6. 

JANIS SAVITT: Various sized Bracelets and Cuff in Rhodium and Gold Plated $60-190

7.

IRENE NEUWIRTH: Heart Moonstone Necklace $7740 | CATHY WATERMAN: Opal and Chrysoprase Lyrical Wheat Necklace $17600

Photography by Laura McCarthyMaria Ciszek

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY

After all, jewelry is meant to be worn. That’s a belief shared by all the fab women who came to this event, and I bet that’s your belief, too!

Now, who wants to win a $250 gift card from Ylang23? Yeah, me too! Head over to SoFortWorthIt on Instagram and enter this contest where you see the picture of Ylang 23’s storefront.

Good luck and shine on my friends! xoxo

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BONUS GIVEAWAY: $500 VISA Gift Card

It would mean the world to me if you’d take five seconds to vote for SoFortWorthIt as your FAVORITE local blog/influencer. As a thank you for voting, I am giving away a $500 VISA gift card to one lucky winner.

*BONUS: You can enter multiple times daily through February 15th. Each vote is an entry into the giveaway. Just click the “+ Nominate Another” link and repeat up to 10 times.

*BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR VOTE, take a screenshot of your vote(s) and email it to [email protected]

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4 May

B&B Butchers & Restaurant launches Brunch with SoFortWorthIt

When B&B Butchers & Restaurant’s PR team reached out to help launch their new weekend brunch, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to collaborate with the hottest new restaurant in town.

Over the course of eight weeks, we hammered out all the fun details for me to host an over-the-top influencers event for gals who were in the media, who were social media savvy and of course, I had to sprinkle in a few of my favorite philanthropist and socialites too.

I reached out to some of the best in the industry to make sure this event would wow! I’m a huge fan of floral, and Cityview Florist, aka Flowersnobs, went all out. We coordinated the blooms to match the colors in the SoFortWorthIt and B&B logos.

Big Ass Balloons made quite the statement for the Sunday Funday launch harmonizing the same color palette as the floral and logos.

Besides curating the Bubbles Brunch & Banter event to be a fabulous experience for an exclusive group of digital experts, my favorite part was sitting down with owner Ben Berg, his managing partner and GM, Darren McDonald, and private events coordinator, Angela Kell, to create the perfect tasting menu.

And let me tell you, we were not going to disappoint! In fact, B&B’s Executive Chef John Piccolino and Berg Hospitality Group’s Chief Executive Chef Tommy Elbashary, pulled out all the stops on food offerings.

Photo credit: Felix Sanchez

Have you ever seen so many precious micro versions of breakfast? These passed appetizers were pared down nibbles from actual dishes they serve off their brunch menu. Barbie-sized pancakes? Yes, please!!!

My mom was so impressed by the flavors, portion size and food presentation, she practically accosted Darren to cater their next private event.

Darren serving bite size stacks of pancakes.
Chef Tommy's Bacon
Mini Quiche
Lox & Bagels
Chicken & Waffle Cones

Brunch started out with a viral BANG as guests grabbed an aperitif and made their way over to the social media backdrop to let the world know that B&B’s Bubbles Brunch & Banter had begun and was here to stay.

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Squeezebox Bandits played TexMex Zydeco, similar to Cajun Jazz, as we mingled and visited for about an hour.

After grazing on five different appetizers, it was time to sit down and work our way through the next round of food. By this point, I was already regretting not wearing my Spanx.

Thanks to JOY Macarons, each person found their assigned seat with a tasty personalized treat with B&B and SFWI logos on them. A little insider info? Liz, the owner of JOY, was in carpool with me growing up, when we attended All Saints together.

Once everyone took their seats, Darren introduced and thanked me for hosting the launch of B&B’s weekend brunch. In return, I thanked him, the restaurant, all the guests who attended and the local businesses who helped to make this event just perfect.

As the music resumed, more food came out from the kitchen. And more food, and more food. I seriously thought I was going to blow a gasket, but I couldn’t help but try a bite of everything.

Savory bread, sweet pastries and Nutella breakfast pizza with sliced strawberries and bananas! Holy Big Balls of Cowtown, I was about to founder.

I ordered as light as possible for my main entrée, which was the Power Up breakfast consisting of scrambled egg whites, whole wheat avocado toast, and salsa roja. Need I say more.

And then there was dessert. Ripieni Sorbetto’s, the most lovely, frozen citrus fruits filled with sorbet. The only thing missing was the Amalfi Coast. They were absolutely decadent.

And the family recipe, Gramma June’s mini Monkey Bread was pure crack. It was impossible to have just one bite.

As brunch came to an end, guests took home a B&B bag filled with the restaurant’s signature wine glasses, a custom monogrammed bottle opener, a treat from Cityview Florist and an Elaine Turner gift card to the brand’s store in The Shops of Clearfork.

As a bonus, the ever-fabulous Neiman Marcus provided additional gift bags filled with a full-sized beauty product too.

After the event was all said and done, the one thing I’ve been thinking about over and over was the graciousness and hospitality we received during brunch.

I’ve dined at B&B more times than I can count on both hands and EVERY, SINGLE, TIME, service has been above and beyond, like butlers recruited from Daddy Warbucks’s mansion. Berg Hospitality Group does not disappoint.

Hey, when you’re only one of 10 restaurants in the United States who qualifies to serve authentic Kobe beef from purebred Japanese cattle, you can expect the best.

B&B Butchers and Restaurant is a valuable addition to our community. They offer presentation, atmosphere, and good food all in a way that’s fresh to Fort Worth.

Located in the coolest new land development, The Shops at Clearfork. Southern hospitality and impeccable tasting food, what more could you ask?

B&B Butchers & Restaurant GIVEAWAY!!!

*All event photos courtesy of Laura McCarthy of Elusive Images Photography*