Saturday night's third annual Food for Thought charity event at the Tower Club brought out a slew of celebrity chefs, a few local celebrities and me, in my fancy pants.
Put on by the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, Food for Thought centered around small bites of celebrity and the bestowing of an elegant, crystal Gavel of Excellence For Promoting Education Award upon former Cowboy Daryl "Moose" Johnston, for his work with Slant 45, an organization that inspires youth to participate in community service programs.
Event Co-chairman Mark Melton told me how he and a group of young lawyers designed Food for Thought three years ago as a community service project. They started from scratch with no money and collected chefs and volunteers to put together this inspired event to benefit Big Thought, a nonprofit focused on making imagination part of everyday learning. His story inspired me as well. So in my own effort to include imagination in everyday writing, I've decided to invent and bestow my own awards for the excellence I spotted this past Saturday night. Here goes:
The Bringing The Heat Award. Bestowed upon the Hotter Than Hot, Hot, Hell Texas Sun itself. Seriously. It had to be 80 degrees inside the elegant Tower Club. I suppose with the combination of hot food, hot chefs and a hot cause, it was really unavoidable. Sweaty philanthropists abounded.
Hotness Honorable Mention. Awarded to Dallas Cowboys great Daryl "Moose" Johnston and his wife Diane. Hottest folks in the room.
Playin' It Cool Award. Presented to former Stephan Pyles chef Mat McCallister, who kept it cool despite Delkus-melting heat on the 48th floor. His saucy "play on chicken wings" featuring fall-off-the-bone quail told us he's not afraid of a little heat.
Best High Class, Low Country. Awarded to Pecan Lodge for their elegantly-plated smoked tenderloin atop green chile and roasted garlic hominy alongside a shmear of horseradish cilantro cream. They make real barbecue look damn sexy.
Best Statement Jewelry. Awarded to Lisa Garza of Lisa Garza Taste Studio and Next Food Network Star fame. Her white baubles were majorly Bam Bam chic. And her sesame seared salmon atop wasabi slaw salad would make a certain other Food Network star go "Bam!"
Best Gavel Swinging and Pork Belly Slinging. Awarded to Chef Tiffany Derry, former Top Chef contestant, who swung one like a pro after creating plenty of her crispy pork belly with pickled vegetable slaw for the evening's guests.
Best Looking Beef. Awarded to Chef Samir's Indian-spiced crabcake and masala tenderloin sandwich from Nick & Sam's. Homemade saffron-mustard sauce and some watercress made for some beautiful food porn.
Spiciest Out-Of-Towners. Awarded to the large ensemble from Chiloso, with locations in Rockwall, Wylie and Richardson, who grilled their beautiful avocados in lime, butter and panache.
Best Hardest-To-Pronounce Dish. Awarded to Chef Richard Blankenship of Charlie Palmer. He and his assistant presented their elegant ricotta stuffed agnolotti with parmesan broth and seasonal baby vegetables like a couple of true pros.
The Sweet-on Award. Bestowed upon the two sweethearts from Gigi's Cupcakes and two more from Artizone, who brought along tempting cookies and a Venezuelan Chocolate Truffle Cake from La Duni. And yes, a sweet-on is like a hard-on. Only much easier to satisfy.
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Best Badass Hair Accessory. Awarded to Mistress of Ceremonies Clarice Tinsley. Her jewelry-like feather-looking extensions (or perhaps earrings?) were out-of-control awesome, whatever they were.
Best Use of a Cow's Tongue. Awarded to Chef John Tesar of The Commissary. His braised beef tongue on arugula with roasted red onions and avocado salsa verde was ... wait, what was I talking about?
To learn more about Big Thought, visit bigthought.org.