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The Buzz – February 2006

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Keeping your finger on the pulse of New Orleans
Well, Katrina and Rita may have come to town, but the party circuit hasn’t skipped a beat. The spirit of New Orleans is alive and well, as evidenced through the oodles of gatherings and fund-raisers both in and out of town. Martha and Jim Conover christened their new mansion in Old Metairie with a celebratory brunch for friends, including Mario Villa, Dale Rathke, Dr. Hal, and Leslie Stokes, whose French Quarter renovation is taking shape, Annette and Jack Wood, Sandra and Louis Wilson and a bevy of close friends. In the French Quarter, Annie and Tommy Lewis entertained a passel of neighbors, including George Segers, Michael and Robin Wilkinson and Gloria Amedeeb, at a recent cookout in the courtyard of their lovely Royal Street residence.

buzz-feb06.jpgMason Granger of WDSU-TV celebrated his birthday with his wife, Kim, and friends at a private dinner party at the Uptown home of Nora Fine. The red-and-black Erte-themed evening was the inspiration of interior designer Clarence Lorio. Another birthday bash was staged at the Palm in Houston for our very own Jerri Cullinan, who was nearly knocked off her track by the surprise fête. Her daughter, Juli Miller Hart, formerly of WDSU-TV and now a resident of Louisville, KY, gathered 40 kith and kin to sup on steak and lobster and reminisce. Some of those who attended included Christie and Mitchell Mintz, Sandra and Louis Wilson, Henri and Terry Hall, Phyllis Taylor, Pam Halter and Dr. Ralph Lupin and Darlene and Cappy Bisso. What a coup!

Patrick Van Hoorebeek, maître d’ of the Maison de Ville’s Bistro, has been very busy with trips to Destin, FL, and Louisville, KY, raising cane and funds for our city. Chef extraordinaire Greg Picolo of the Bistro and Leon Galatoire of (you guessed it) Galatoire’s prepared Sautéed Frog Legs and Shrimp Maison, respectively, among other New Orleans delectables, while Patrick paired the wines for a fund-raiser at Café Provance in Destin. Proceeds benefited Danny Wuerffel’s Desire Street Ministries, an organization for inner-city youth of New Orleans, with funds earmarked to help rebuild the ministry properties damaged by Katrina. Wuerffel is a football star who won the 1996 Heisman Trophy and later played for the Saints. A live auction, including expensive wine donations procured from around the country, gift certificates and a Krewe of Cork Sparkling Membership, headlined the event.

The Seelbach Inn of Louisville featured a monthlong promotion called “When Bourbon Street Meets Bourbon Country.” Under the auspices of Van Hoorebeek, a month of Sunday jazz brunches ensued with the coup de gras event being a five-course wine dinner, another fabulous wine auction, a dine-around-town limo package and a Krewe of Cork membership. Louisville gladly stepped up to the plate. Employees of Interstate Hotels (Maison de Ville and Holiday Inn Airport) garnered the proceeds. Take note: Krewe of Cork rolls February 17.

Norma Ackley and hubby Deryl, who had open-heart surgery and got lost in the hospital shuffle for a week, turned up like a shiny new penny in Morgan City. They have been in Boca Raton and are now in the French Quarter with the John Lynotts, who are back from Austin; Freddie Guess, back from the Highlands; and talented interior designer George Segers, who recently sailed into port from the Bahamas. Oh, yes, George and friends Beth and Bob Masser are excited about the new Tommy’s Flowers and More, 933 Royal St., showcasing cut flowers, potted orchids, mirrors, chandeliers, gift wrappings and cards. Check it out along with quaint Provencal Café Amelie at 912 Royal St. While you’re at it, visit Óhia (oh-hee-uh) at Le Cirque Hotel on “the Circle” (Lee, that is). Vickie Bayley’s new loungey hot spot for cocktails and small plates is open and calling for you. Ashish Verma, general manager of the Windsor Court Hotel announces the addition of executive chef of the Grill Room, and Evelyn and Gunter Preuss are reopening Broussard’s in the French Quarter on February 1.

You should also know that Hans Wundfluh and Margarita Bergen recently hosted a fascinating group of published writers, filmmakers, intellectuals, artists and bon vivants at their inaugural luncheon and roundtable at Begues. The forum, the brainchild of travel writer Patti Nichol, is fashioned after the infamous daily gatherings in the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City in the 1920s. These gatherings, composed of legendary New Yorker founder Harold Ross, author Robert Benchley, comedian Harpo Marx, novelist Edna Ferber, playwright George S. Kaufman, drama critic Alexander Wolcott and, of course, Dorothy Parker, were where the crème de la crème met to banter on the ways of the world. Patti deemed the inimitable Margarita Bergen the alter ego of Dorothy Parker—who else could possibly fit the bill? Syndicated Reuters reporter and folklorist Verna Gates of Birmingham held forth with her Renegade Squirrels and Other Nut Cases; she also holds the title of Biggest Liar in Alabama. What a hoot!

It’s called keeping it in the family… Good news on the business front: Howard Weil, Inc. is being bought back by its employees. President Jefferson Parker announced the buyback of the company, founded in 1946, from Citigroup who acquired the financial group from its Legg-Mason acquisition.

Rockin’ Dopsie, hot off his Wheel of Fortune gig as the house band (which was actually taped Katrina weekend!), had the folks swinging to the beat as he performed outside Serrano’s Restaurant in the Clearview Mall recently. Now that was fun! I’m so excited to announce that Viking International is going on with their Grand Cru Wine event here in New Orleans, February 9 through 12, so keep your ears open. Also, if you’re in the mood for a great book, pick up a copy of Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza; it’s a must-read.

I can’t be everywhere at once, so keep me informed of your comings and goings and what’s hot, hot, hot! If you know of an event I need to attend, e-mail me at:
Jude@southernwomanonline.com.

Be part of the rebuilding of our great city. Your voice is needed. Visit www.citizensfor1greaterneworleans.com.