Cooking up funds for a good cause SCENE&HEARD

SCENE & HEARD

April 23, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

Talk about a feast for the senses. The Family Tree's 15th Annual Great Chefs' Dinner had that one down pat. First, there were the sounds of greeting, as the sold-out crowd of more than 300 was met at the door of the Grand Lodge at Hunt Valley by dinner co-chairs Carrington North, B.J. and Bill Cowie, and Barbara and Tom Bozzuto.

Tongues were tickled first, with delicate hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail hour in the lodge's halls. But when the ballroom doors opened, the eyes had it. Every table in the room was a thing of beauty, each decorated by a different local designer.

There was the Dr. Seuss table complete with fanciful "Seussian" trees sprouting from the center, and Cat in the Hat toppers hanging on the back of each chair. A huge, bright blue tiki hut roof hung over the "Hon" table, piled high with pink flamingos and fluorescent feather boas.

Other tables bloomed with gorgeous floral arrangements.

"Holy mackerel," were the first words out of Miles & Stockbridge principal Topper Webb's mouth as he entered.

"This is better than last year, and last year [the decorations] were spectacular," restaurateur Gayle Brier said.

"That's beautiful. That's springtime," Provident Bank's Vicki Cox said as she gazed at a table tumbling with tulips.

The food that arrived at those tables took the night to yet another level. This year's guest chef was Georges Perrier of Philadelphia's famed French restaurant Le Bec-Fin. Perrier had been the chef at the first Chefs' Dinner and had returned to help the Family Tree celebrate its 15th with delicate watercress soup, lobster timbale and mushrooms fricassee.

Next came poached salmon, then beef filet with morel mushrooms, asparagus and wild rice.

Dessert came in the form of a triangular tower of frozen Grand Marnier souffle, surrounded by walls of dark chocolate.

Even the auction went overboard, as Perrier offered a dinner for 14 at his Philly home. It was sold for $25,000. Twice.

A DRINK WITH JAYNE MILLER

She has a lighter side

Jayne Miller is WBAL TV's I-Team chief investigative reporter. ("My name gives away my age. I was born in the 1950s, when Jayne Meadows and Jayne Mansfield were around.") She grew up in Millheim, Pa., a town with a population of 700. Miller came to Baltimore to work as a reporter for Channel 11 in 1979. Three years later, she was hired to work for CBS news out of Washington, but returned to WBAL in 1984. She has been here ever since.

We need to investigate a question that's on the minds of many Baltimore TV viewers. Is there a lighter side to Jayne Miller?

Absolutely. You know, people say that to me all the time. They tell me when I'm on television I'm so serious. So, when they see me in person, they often remark that they're surprised that I have a sense of humor. ... The kind of news I cover is hard news. It's serious. ... You know, when the Ravens went to the Super Bowl, I pulled rank as a senior reporter to go cover them. That's the last time I remember covering anything that was fun.

How do you describe your lighter side?

First of all, I love to play golf. I am as dedicated as any golfer. A perfect workday in the summer [for me] -- I play golf at 6:30 in the morning and go to work at 9. ... I play as much as three times a week. ... I play at the Mountain Branch Golf Course. I've played when it's frozen, when it's cold, when it's snowy. I would play golf seven days a week, 365 days a year if I could. ... I've never met anyone on the golf course I didn't like. I've made tons of new friends [that way]. It's absolutely a stress reliever.

OK. So what else is "light" about you?

I have lots of close friends and we get together weekly. They're not in television. We have a lot of fun. ... I am a huge sports fan. Huge. I'm a partial season ticket holder for the Orioles. I'm a Ravens season ticket holder. And I'm a season ticket holder for Penn State. ESPN is on in my house all the time. Sunday afternoon at the ballpark in the summer is a rare and precious thing in this country.

What is decadence for you?

Pebble Beach. It's like $395 a round. Maybe more now. That's decadent. I played it one time.

Favorite decadent food?

I think Charleston [Restaurant] has the best foie gras on the planet. ... I love ice cream with chocolate syrup. Simple pleasures. ... And I like my steak with ketchup. Always. It doesn't matter if the steak is $60 or $6.

How do you keep on keepin' on?

I've learned a great lesson as a reporter in Baltimore. No matter how dire the circumstances and seemingly hopeless a situtation is, what has always struck me is the resiliency of the human spirit. And its ability to survive and thrive, even in the darkest circumstances. One of the reasons I've never left Baltimore [permanently] is that this is a city of characters and character. You don't realize that until you're not here.

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