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Chefs’ Celebrity Gala

Benefiting Memphis Child Advocacy Center

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger   | Photos by Don Perry 

The 29th annual Chefs’ Celebrity Gala offered a way for people to show their support of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center. The 2018 event was co-chair by Almida Smith and Georgia Smith. As hundreds of guests filled the upper mezzanine of the Holiday Inn - University of Memphis, the elegant evening began as people viewed silent auction items. 

Lamps, rugs, pillows other home decor accessories mingled with fine jewelry, wine tastings, and trips to Perdido Key, as well as the British Virgin Islands. An offer of a custom-designed gingerbread house drew a flurry of bids. Personal pursuits were represented with a writing retreat and lessons to learn to ride a Harley Davidson. Especially notable were autographed guitars from Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow. 

Cash bars were available with variety of libations as servers passed hors d’oeuvres of bruschetta of Brie and poached pears, shrimp grit cakes, Beef Wellington in puff pastry, and fruits and cheeses. Celebrity servers offered a choice of fine wines, provided by Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd. Wine Merchants, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Tennessee, and an anonymous donor. The red was a 2016 Castello Monaco Liante Salice Selection from “the heel of the boot” of Italy. The white was a crisp 2017 Santi ‘Sortsele’ Pinot Grigio. The dinner menu included a Mediterranean salad, an intermezzo of lemon sorbet with mint, and a main course with a dual entree of grilled beef tenderloin and poached salmon, roasted new potatoes, cabbage and apples, and Florentine tomatoes. Dessert was a sacher torte with a fall spice mousse and kiwi sauce. Musical entertainment was provided by Andy Childs and his band.

An enduring feature of the Chefs’ Celebrity Gala was the popular Teddy Bear Surprise. The bears were available for purchase, complete with surprise gifts and certificates for catered dinners, travel vouchers, weekend vacations, and dining gift certificates.

“The Chef’s Celebrity Gala is a stellar example of good people joining forces for a worthy cause,” said Virginia Stallworth, Executive Director of Memphis Child Advocacy Center. “Our gala, like the center, is based on collaboration, and we thank everyone for their support as we work to help victims become children again. As our organization’s single largest fundraiser of the year, the gala raised over $270,000” 

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