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Chefs’ Celebrity Gala

Cooking Up a Good Time

Story by Bill Bannister | Photos by Don Perry

The Memphis Child Advocacy Center has an important mission in our community — to help create a world where children are safe and families are strong. The organization strives to serve children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse through prevention, education and intervention. One of the organization’s singe largest fundraiser of the year is the Chefs’ Celebrity Gala.

Held at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, the gala was sponsored by the American Culinary Federation, Greater Memphis Chapter and Sysco Memphis. More than 550 guests entered the Holiday Inn dining room where they were greeted by servers offering a choice of fine wines. The red was a lively, but rich, Marchesi Di Barolo Maraia Barbera. The brilliant and gentle white wine, Melini Orvieto, completed the pair. The wines were provided by Southern Glazer’s wine and Spirits of Tennessee. 

Upstairs there were cash bars available with a complete variety of libations as servers passed around hors d’oeuvres of succulent bacon-wrapped Mississippi Gulf Coast shrimp and Boursin brie tarts.  At the silent auction, tables were laden with treasures including a custom gingerbread house, an elaborately hand-carved walking stick, an Austin Blue painting, and several pieces of fine jewelry from Kendra Scott. Guests placed their bids on a steamboat lunch cruise on the American Queen, a Rooftop Party at Old Dominick, a shiny new green bike complete with a picnic for four on The Greenline, and a one-week stay at Orange Lake Resort and Country Club. The Orpheum donated four box seats to The Beach Boys in concert, and bids were taken on a Robert Trent Jones golf package. Additionally, there was a Tennessee Titans Football autographed by Taylor Lewan, club box seats donated by The Memphis Grizzlies and an outdoor metal fireplace to help the high bidder entertain al fresco on chilly Memphis nights. Among the most coveted items were two beautiful Fender guitars, one signed by Keith Urban and the other autographed by John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls. 

A special feature of the evening was the popular Teddy Bear Surprise, where guests could purchase bears along with their surprise gifts (i,e., catered dinners, travel vouchers, weekend vacations and restaurant gift certificates). Diners were ushered in to a fabulous four-course dinner where special musical entertainment was provided by Andy Childs and his band. 

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