Sunday, November 04, 2007

stampede of dollars

The local chapter of the March of Dimes asked me to be a spotter for the Signature Chefs Auction tonight. I pointed out bidders in the crowd to auctioneer Robbie Franklin. The food at the event reminded me of Feast with the Beasts except more civilized. Several top restaurants served their best fare in a ballroom at the Knoxville Convention Center. Unlike the event at the zoo, everyone in the crowd was dressed up and the delicacies were served on china plates.

As much as I wanted to sample every dish being offered, I don't think it would have been physically possible even with the small portion sizes. Nama took first prize for their delicious seared tuna roll. I also liked the braised veal cheek from Northshore Brasserie and the pumpkin cheesecake served with gingersnaps in a champagne glass from Hunter's Bakery & Cafe.

A number of local celebrities were in attendance. I had a chance to converse with many of them. John Becker was the emcee for the evening. He and I mostly talked about our mutual friend Fr. Ragan Schriver. John and I recently did some volunteer work on a project for Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. I told John that I believe that Fr. Ragan could be a superstar on the national charitable scene if he wanted to. After all, he already has TV experience as a contestant on "Warehouse Warriors."

Kay Watson was sitting at the WBIR table. When I said hi to Kay tonight, I told her that we had once met at Dollywood. She responded by saying, "oh yeah, you were sitting behind us." By doing so, she as much as acknowledged that she has seen the picture of the back of her head that I posted here last summer. I mentioned the photo and she confirmed that she had heard about it and then looked at it online. Fortunately for me, she saw the humor in it.

Chef Walter Lambert was still on a high from meeting Betty White, who was in town on Friday. After her live interview with Stacy McCloud, Betty was ushered onto Chef Walter's kitchen set to taste his bran muffins.

Maestro Lucas Richman listened patiently as I requested he schedule a program of classical music that we would recognize from cartoons. His lovely wife Debbie remembered meeting me on the Knoxville Symphony's recent Blogger Night.

Diana Morgan, the recently retired host of the Scholars' Bowl on East Tennessee Public Television, talked to me about the value of participating in academic competitions when it comes to filling out college applications.

Scott Branscom from " Weekly" was stunned by my appearance. Aside from the weight loss and makeover, the fact that I was wearing a suit and tie tonight made the difference from the last time he saw me all the more noticeable. Scott was one of the master carpenters on "Warehouse Warriors" when I was a guest judge on the show about four years ago. Coincidentally, the episode I did will be repeated this Thursday at 5:00 a.m. Set your TiVo.

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