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Les Dames d’Escoffier Bring Food, Film in Grand Style to Fundraiser


Meals on Reels table cropped

It was all glitter and pearls, top-notch auction items, perfect wine and food and a party to remember Thursday night as San Antonio’s chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s fundraiser filled a ballroom at the St. Anthony Hotel.

Meals on Reels, presented by members of the culinary organization for women, was one of this year’s events to bring in cash for scholarships and other support and opportunities for women who are in, or wish to become professionals in culinary pursuits of all kinds.

“It just went really smoothly, it was a great night, a really excellent collection of silent and live auction items – everyone did a great job,” said Les Dames President Kathy Shearer. She and restaurateur Dame Blanca Aldaco co-chaired the event. Debbie Gonzales, also a member of Les Dames and a manager at the St. Anthony, coordinated arrangements.

Planning began months ago, but the real push on site started a day ahead of the event as Dames and helpers set the stage, from auction room to banquet hall.

Grand Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Dame Rosemary Kowalski, in flapper finery.

Some 186 guests attended. The theme, Meals on Reels, was a posh take on a night at the Oscars. Tables gleamed with gray and aubergine linens, flowers, crystal candlesticks and swag bags. The entertainment was clips of foodie scenes from famous movies, shown on screens around the room and narrated by Dame Cynthia Guido and Ron Bechtol. The evening’s MCs were dames Tanji Patton and Leslie Komet Ausburn.

And of course, there was popcorn.

In the kitchen, St. Anthony Executive Chef Michael Mata and his staff cleared the way for Dames whose restaurant and cooking backgrounds prepared them to create and execute the ambitious menu Thursday night. The menu items matched those mentioned in the featured movies — ranging from Lobster Bisque and Grilled Quail to Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon.

Much of the prep work was done on Wednesday, under the guidance of Dame Naylene Dillingham, chef and owner of the renowned Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery in Tarpley.

Meals on Reels quail dish cropped

Grilled Quail with Silky Rose Petal Sauce

Dillingham was assisted by restaurateurs and chefs, including dames Nancy Fitch, Cathy Tarasovic, Lisa Wong, Jenny Mattingsly and Denise Mazel, as well as Central Market Cooking School Manager Mary Martini. Dessert was prepared by Dame Anne Ng, of Bakery Lorraine.

A group of five female culinary students from the Culinary Institute of America, enrolled in Dame Julia Rosenfeld’s writing class, also made an appearance. They, along with Rosenfeld, Cathy Tarasovic and I pitched in to help with the cheese course for the event.

Photographs by Susan Jaime and Bonnie Walker

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Auction table, featuring photo of Auguste Escoffier, is set up early afternoon.

Silent auction items were collected by dames Di-Anna Arias and Erica Hanchey.

Live auction items, which provided fun later in the evening, included a one-week stay in a picturesque San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; a three-day culinary trip to New York for two, including dinner at the James Beard House; a chef-prepared dinner for 10 at Osteria Il Sogno in San Antonio; a private party for up to 30 people at the Don Strange Ranch; and a gourmet dinner prepared by members of Les Dames for 10 people at the home of Dame Pat Mozersky.

This fundraiser might be over, but the culinary expertise of this active local chapter of the international Les Dames d’Escoffier is planning another event, The Plate Changer,

for later this year.

About Les Dames d’Escoffier International: This year, Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Antonio Chapter (LDEI-SA), celebrates its Twentieth Anniversary. Our membership consists of dedicated professional women in the culinary arts, hospitality, agriculture, and other related fields. Our emphasis is on education and philanthropy and through our efforts, we are strengthening our community by following in the footsteps of legendary members both past and present from around the country such as Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Marcella Hazan, and Alice Waters. We are especially inspired and encouraged by our own chapter’s premier trail blazer and San Antonio star, Rosemary Kowalski, founder and CEO Emeritus of the RK Group.

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Rose petals for the quail course and fruit breads by Jenny Mattingsly

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

Chefs Nancy Fitch, Lisa Wong and Cathy Tarasovic

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Les Dames has $20K in culinary scholarships: Apply by April 15


If you are a woman who wishes pursue an education in food and/or culinary arts, this is your opportunity to apply for a scholarship from the San Antonio chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI).

CIA San Antonio chef-instructor Elizabeth Johnson prepares some of the ingredients for Peruvian-style ceviche.

CIA San Antonio chef-instructor Elizabeth Johnson prepares some of the ingredients for Peruvian-style ceviche.

The San Antonio chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) is now accepting applications for its scholarships for post high-school studies for the 2013-2014 school year to area women wishing to enter fields in culinary arts, wine, hospitality and agriculture industries.  In the past, scholarships have been awarded to local women attending the University of The Incarnate Word, St. Phillips College, Johnson and Wales, The Culinary Institute of America and other educational institutions.

“Because of a very successful fundraiser put on by our San Antonio chapter this past fall, we are now awarding at least $20,000 in scholarships in 2013,” says Diana Barrios Trevino, scholarship chairwoman.

“As a woman who has dedicated her life to fine cuisine and hospitality through our restaurants, it is so gratifying to me to chair the committee that helps other women enter this field,” Barrios Trevino says.

The applicant must demonstrate financial need and currently attend an accredited institution with a cumulative 3.0 grade point to be eligible for an award. Scholarships are available to women who are residents of San Antonio/Bexar County and its contiguous counties.

Application forms are available on the website of the San Antonio chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.; from a school’s financial aid office; or by requesting one from Les Dames scholarship chairwoman Diana Barrios Trevino.

Diana Barrios Trevino

Diana Barrios Trevino is scholarship chairwoman for Les Dames d’Escoffier San Antonio Chapter and owner of Los Barrios Restaurants.

Completed applications must be postmarked and mailed no later than April 15, 2013 to Les Dames d’Escoffier, c/o Diane Thomas, P.O. Box 17812, San Antonio, Texas 78217.

Successful scholarship recipients will be notified no later than May 27, 2013; funds will be sent directly to the named educational institution of each scholarship winner no later than September 1, 2013.

LDEI is a non-profit international association of women in achievement with careers in food, wine, hospitality and agriculture and is dedicated to assisting others through scholarships and its “Green Tables” initiative where chapters help to bring about education at all levels to enhance fresh food supply and preparation. 

Grabbing for a chocolate.

Grabbing for a chocolate.

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