Now in its twelfth year, the Annual Stephan Pyles Celebrity Chef Dinner & Live Wine Auction held in Dallas this past weekend at Stephan Pyles Restaurant was anything but repetitive. With different chefs cooking each year, the event always offers new surprises and inventive culinary creations to keep guests coming back for more. This year’s line-up included David Garrido of Austin, Joel Harrington of Dallas, Nick Badovinus of Dallas, Jason Dady of San Antonio, and Rebecca Rather of Fredericksburg cooking alongside Stephan Pyles himself. To get the night started, this year’s Stephan Pyles Culinary Scholarship winner Reneé Morgan prepared three passed hors d’oeuvres for the crowd of 100 that were so good, people were amazed to hear they had been prepared by a recent culinary school grad, rather than a chef with a pedigree such as that of Stephan Pyles. Morgan’s samplings, paired with a Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, made for a happy crowd right from the get-go. After four courses of scallops, salmon, quail, and lamb, each perfectly paired with wine, the lively and exciting auction portion of the evening began as doughnuts, ice cream, and bacon (!) were served for dessert. I don’t know about everyone else, but I practically rolled out of there, happy as a pig in mud.
All in all, a truly wonderful night to support a wonderful cause – this year’s dinner raised over $20,000 to support next year’s Stephan Pyles Culinary Scholarship awarded by The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas. Many thanks to our headlining sponsor Central Market, without whom this dinner would be impossible, all the chefs for donating their time and effort, and the wine sponsors (Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Evening Land Vineyards, Sokol Blosser Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Palm Bay International, and Esprit du Vin) who were extremely generous to donate all wine for the evening. We’re already looking forward to the 2012 Scholarship competition which will take place in San Antonio March 17-18th. If the next winner cooks anything like 2011’s winner Reneé Morgan, we’re in for a treat!