Party Line: Chefs lend star power, gourmet talents to fundraiser

Based on audience applause, Bleu restaurant won the Best Showmanship award at Flavors of Memphis. Robbie Cirillo (center) the restaurant’s executive chef, was assisted by L’Ecole Culinaire students Elliott Birch (left) and Casey Cummings.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Based on audience applause, Bleu restaurant won the Best Showmanship award at Flavors of Memphis. Robbie Cirillo (center) the restaurant’s executive chef, was assisted by L’Ecole Culinaire students Elliott Birch (left) and Casey Cummings.

Jason Dallas, former chef de cuisine at Chez Philippe in The Peabody, came out of "retirement" to participate in the American Liver Foundation's Flavors of Memphis on Sunday night at Memphis Botanic Garden.

Jason, who is married to pediatric oncologist Dr. Mari Dallas, left Chez Philippe earlier this year to spend more time caring for their two daughters.

Flavors of Memphis chef chairman Joshua Laban Perkins, who also is executive chef at The Grove Grill restaurant, needed one more chef for the event. "I was in Colorado on a ski lift" with his daughters, Jason said. "Josh Perkins called me and said, 'Will you do it?'"

Including Jason, the event featured nine chefs who prepared five-course gourmet dinners paired with wines and distinctive décor for tables of 10.

The dinners are an American Liver Foundation signature event, said Deri Whittaker, events manager with the American Liver Foundation, Mid-South Division.

'A Taste of the Season'

People on stage Saturday night at Germantown Community Theatre didn't have to learn any lines; they just sipped wine and engaged in party chatter at the theater's "A Taste of the Season" fundraiser.

In addition to the stage, several areas of the theater, including a tent on the grounds, housed food and wine.

"The event is a wine tasting that we started two years ago," said Brent Davis, the theater's executive producer.

The purpose of the event is to "not only give a taste of the wine, but also give a taste of our season with a little bit of a launch as to what we're doing next season."

Each wine station represented an upcoming show, but guests had to guess the name of the show based on clues, including actors dressed as characters from the theater's future productions.

To celebrate its 40th season, Germantown Community Theatre also featured a revue of musicals presented at the theater "decade by decade," Brent said.

About 150 people attended, including performers. "This was the largest turnout we've had," Brent said.

About $20,000 worth of donated items were included in the silent auction, he said.

"The whole thing is about bringing the Germantown family together, bringing our supporters together and introducing new people to GCT and what we do there."

Wine was provided by Southwestern Distributing, and food was from Off the Square Catering.

'Pretty Young Thing'

Travis Carrier and Andy Pomykalski. opened their show, "Pretty Young Thing," with a reception Friday night at Marshall Arts.

The name came from the Michael Jackson song, said Travis, a former Memphian. They wanted to keep "the spirit of youth" in the title to "unify the show," he said.

The name describes the "common link" behind their work, Andy said. "We both make figurative paintings mostly with women in them, having to do with love, death and the spiritual world. ... I feel like the thing we both see in each other's work is ... our love for paint and love in all forms."

They both are graduates of Rhode Island School of Design.

"During school, I think both of us were singled out. ... People told us our work went well together," Andy said. "We're both painting from our imagination. Everyone else was doing things from reference, making minimalist sculptures, making abstract work only. We were kind of both stuck in our heads, and people saw that as a good thing."

Andy likes to repaint subjects. "I like to revisit ideas and see how many ways I can create the idea and how different they can be."

Andy works for an artist in Brooklyn. Their view includes the Statue of Liberty. A series of Andy's paintings deals with the statue. "The influence of the weather and my emotional state and the sun and everything, the Statue of Liberty ... becomes beautiful, kind of menacing. It can change."

Describing his painting "The Brothers," Travis said, "It's a painting of two guys meeting in the middle of the road. They each have their following (of people) behind them."

The painting is "an allegory on the meeting of light and dark."

"Pretty Young Thing" is on view through April 13.

-- Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; donahue@commercialappeal.com

© 2012 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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