Great Chefs' Dinner reveled in food and design


May 05, 2005|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The wisteria was in bloom recently at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley. And we're talking inside the place! A large wisteria "tree" -- actually, a close facsimile thereof created by P.W. Feats -- served as the centerpiece for one of the decorated tables at the 14th Annual Great Chefs' Dinner.

The Family Tree event not only brings in a top chef to whip up a grand five-course meal for the sellout crowd, but local designers pitch in, too. Each decorates a table seating 10, so the evening offers a feast for the eyes, as well. Eye-poppers included a large chocolate bust of a Baltimore Hon, courtesy Cafe Hon, and a huge arrangement of glass and fiber-optic lighted "flowers" from Neiman Marcus and Charles Osbourne. Although the diners probably most happy with their table were those at the one designed by Lisa Anne's Decadent Sweets and Sharlene Sherman events. Everyone got to take home a huge toffee apple that had been at each place setting. Not that anyone was hungry. With a meal prepared this year by Chef Sam Hayward of Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, Maine --Maine lobster with hasty pudding and wild mushrooms, roast venison and brioche bread pudding -- it is doubtful anyone left complaining.

Pride Gala

Turns out the 2005 Pride Person-of-the-Year Gala was something to sing about. This year, about 300 folks gathered under a tent on the Constellation Pier to honor Diamond Comics and Baltimore magazine head honcho Steve Geppi. And after several speakers -- such as Pride Executive Director Linda Christenson and board Chair Tom Koch -- sang Steve's praises, he turned the tables on them and sang right back. With the evening's band backing him up, Steve belted out "My Way" to his enthusiastic audience.

Steeplechase party

Right smack dab in the middle of Maryland's steeplechase season, some 800 horse lovers showed their love of the sport at a tented cocktail party at Shawan Downs last weekend. The evening commemorated two big events in steeplechase history -- when two Americans grabbed the glory in Britain. Jay Trump won the English Grand National 40 years ago, and 20 years ago Ben Nevis took top honors at the same event.

Guests had a chance to learn more about both events from a large display and presentation. They could also get up close and personal with some of the obstacles that would face contenders the next day in the Maryland Hunt Cup. Replicas of the race's third and 15th fences were set up in the tent. If you didn't have respect for the horses and riders before, you certainly did after examining the latter -- a daunting 5-foot-2, 3-foot-wide pine-bough-covered hurdle -- complete with 6-foot ditch on the take-off side.

`Sports Fantasy'

There were fun and games at Meadow Mill Athletic Club last Saturday night. Although most folks there were watching the action while noshing on dinner. It was all for a good cause, as the Maryland chapter of Asthma and Allergy Foundation held its first "Sports Fantasy Celebration." First on tap -- a fast-paced squash match between Meadow Mill pros Lucky Odeh and Lefika Rogontse. Making the match particularly relevant was the fact that Lefika suffered from asthma as a child. The evening ended with a basketball game between WBAL radio's Chip Franklin (another asthma sufferer), Smart CEO magazine publisher Craig Burris and UM national championship basketball team member Tahj Holden. Oh, and did we mention WJZ sports director Mark Viviano was the ref?

The event's purpose was to raise awareness and money and to prove that cardiovascular activity is an important tool in the fight against asthma.

Blue Sea Grill

A Baltimore eating place gets a mention in Conde Nast Traveler this month. Power Plant Live!'s Blue Sea Grill has been named one of the 80 new restaurants worth checking out around the world.

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