Auction ‘prize drawer’ yields feast for the ages

From left, Eddie Mannis, chef Matt Gallaher and Caroline Farris. When you see these three, you are in for a good time!

From left, Eddie Mannis, Chef Matt Gallaher and Caroline Farris. When you see these three, you are in for a good time! Read on!

I am as guilty as anyone of not redeeming auction items for which I have paid dearly at many a charity event. So, determined to remedy that situation, I recently visited my “prize drawer” where I keep the certificates for these items. Many were expired.

But I swallowed my pride and called nearly every donor who had provided them to the charity and guess what — each one said he or she would honor the gift even though they had long passed their expiration date. (There was one exception. I just couldn’t make myself call one donor whose gift had expired in 2010!)

Boy am I glad I did that — if only to redeem this stunningly delicious and interesting dinner experience. The certificate did not say at what charity I purchased this. But here’s the important thing. It was a dinner cooked by Chef Matt Gallaher and served at the elegant Kingston Pike home of my friend Eddie Mannis. I am not sure what I paid for this. But I am sure I got my money’s worth! Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Knoxville | 7 Comments

Picture perfect patio for a party!

Everyone loves props! Danielle Hemsley of Johnson Architecture with her husband, Jim, behind the Butch Jones picture, at the Moxley Carmichael tailgate.

Everyone loves props! Danielle Hemsley of Johnson Architecture with her husband, Jim, behind the Butch Jones picture, at the Moxley Carmichael tailgate. Neyland Stadium provides a nice backdrop! (Photo by Pam Rhoades)

Here’s some welcome news for party and event planners.

The University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information has just opened a spacious new patio with an interesting view of Neyland Stadium and the Tennessee River. Moxley Carmichael used it for a tailgate prior to the Missouri game this past Saturday, but it would be appropriate for many other occasions, as well.

Picture this. Three thousand square feet of raised outdoor space plus access to a large indoor lobby with big screen TVs for viewing other games of the day. Another plus on game days: private access to restrooms. Continue reading

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All aboard for the Streamliner Ball!

Knoxville Opera's Maestro Brian Salesky, center, visits with Pilot Flying J's Ken Parent and his wife, Leslie. Pilot Flying J was the title sponsor of this year's opera ball.

Knoxville Opera’s Maestro Brian Salesky, center, visits with Pilot Flying J’s Ken Parent and his wife, Leslie. Pilot Flying J was the title sponsor of this year’s opera ball.

The Knoxville Opera Guild’s Streamliner Ball once again proved that the folks at Knoxville Opera know how to throw a heck of a party. Sure, there were the usual silent and live auctions and great music, as one would expect. But the opera folks always seem to come up with a “hook” to make their big charity event particularly memorable.

This year, the hook was the food. They enlisted the services of one of Knoxville’s hottest young chefs, Matt Gallaher of Knox Mason and Emilia, to provide the victuals at the event held at the Knoxville Museum of Art. In keeping with the Streamliner theme — honoring the glamorous days of train travel on the great Streamliners, the Super Chief, the 20th Century Limited and the Tennessean — Gallaher based his bill of fare on original dining car menus. The concept was a stunning success.

The whole evening, in fact, was a quick-moving blast. (These things can tend to drag.) Kudos to ball co-chairs Peter Acly and Kim Henry and all the hard-working volunteers and opera supporters who made it happen. All aboard! Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville, Music | 4 Comments

‘Great’ Lyle Lovett charms Tocqueville Society

Country singer Lyle Lovett performing at the Mill & Mine in October. If you are not a country music fan, you may know him for being married to actress Julia Roberts for two years.

Country singer Lyle Lovett performing at the Mill & Mine in October. If you are not a country music fan, you may know him for being married to actress Julia Roberts for two years.

Country singer Lyle Lovett was in Knoxville the other day providing a concert for a small gathering of Knoxvillians at the Mill & Mine on Depot Avenue. The occasion was the annual Alexis de Tocqueville Society dinner, a “reward” for those who give $10,000 or more to the United Way of Greater Knoxville in any given year.

Jim Haslam, the chair of the Tocqueville Society, loves several of the French philosopher’s famous quotes. But one he most often cites is this one: “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” As you probably know from a civics or government or world history class, Tocqueville is most famous for his seminal work, “Democracy in America,” published in 1835.

It was a treat seeing Lovett in such an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. His kind of country music really is a fusion of country and swing and jazz. He played with just two accompanists: a bass player and a fiddle player. He was chatty and funny. At one point, he called Knoxville “one of the prettiest cities in the country.” (I like that description much better than “scruffy,” of which I am growing weary.)

Dinner was catered by chef Tim Love, who earlier this year opened the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in the Old City. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville, Music | 4 Comments

Bidding for experience brings event to a boil

Allyn Purvis Schwartz presents dinner -- a Low Country shrimp boil at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.

Allyn Purvis Schwartz presents dinner — a Low Country shrimp boil at the Knoxville Botanical Garden. Lining up to fill their plates are, from left, Bruce Anderson, Carmen Hicks, Monique Anderson and Bill and Gay Lyons. (Gay’s a little excited!)

Since Alan and I downsized several years ago to a condo in downtown Knoxville, we have adopted a new strategy for all the charity auctions we attend. We don’t have much space to acquire more “stuff.” So, we have a pretty strict rule for ourselves: Bid on “experiences” instead of things.

As the end of the year approaches, I decided to clean out our “winnings” drawer. Here is one of the items I found in it: a Low Country shrimp boil courtesy of our friends John and Allyn Purvis Schwartz. We bought it at an event benefiting the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum — and that’s where the shrimp boil was held. We redeemed our prize when my brother and sister-in-law were visiting last week from Gulf Shores, Alabama. Check it out. You might want to adopt this same policy!

Thanks to our great hosts, Allyn and John, as well as to their daughter, Ashley Schwartz Giles, and her husband, John Giles, who helped prepare the feast. This was a great auction item! Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 18 Comments

Party of five, your jazz orchestra is ready

the-band

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra performs at Sherri Lee’s house for “Evening Under the Stars.” That’s band leader Vance Thompson on the trumpet in the back.

For years, when speaking of arts organizations in Knoxville, people have referred to “the big four,” meaning the Knoxville Symphony, the Knoxville Opera, the Clarence Brown Theatre and the Knoxville Museum of Art. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 8 Comments

Secret garden steeped in Knoxville ‘her-story’

Presley Ford checks out a huge bird's egg in a nest at the new "Secret Garden."

Presley Ford checks out a huge bird’s egg in a nest at the new “Secret Garden.”

The folks at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum put together a touching and creative tribute to two special Knoxville women recently. During its popular annual Green Thumb Gala fundraiser, the garden unveiled a real “secret garden” created in honor of the late Andie Ray. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 12 Comments

‘The Final Season’ captures essence of Pat Summitt

Author Maria Cornelius, left, with Lady Vols basketball coach Holly Warlick. Warlick is a former Lady Vol player and was Pat Summitt's assistant coach for 27 seasons.

Author Maria Cornelius, left, with Lady Vols basketball coach Holly Warlick. Warlick is a former Lady Vol player and was Pat Summitt’s assistant coach for 27 seasons. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)

I was lucky enough to receive one of the first copies of “The Final Season,” the new book about University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt’s last season coaching the legendary Lady Vols. The early copy was a gift from its author, Maria Cornelius, my friend and colleague at Moxley Carmichael.

As you surely know, Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I basketball, passed away this summer after a five-year battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

I tore into the book the first Saturday after I received it. By page 13, I was weeping. Pat Summitt is not only an inspirational basketball coach, but an overall inspiration. Maria, who covered Summitt and her teams for many years as a reporter with the Knoxville News Sentinel and Inside Tennessee, was privy to Summitt’s inner circle and that’s where she got most of her insights. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Journalism, Knoxville, Media, Public Relations, UT sports | 9 Comments

‘Dinner on the Bridge’ beguiles

Here's the view from our table last night as sun was setting on the "Dinner of the Bridge" to celebrate Knoxville's 225th birthday.

Here’s the view from our table Sunday night as sun was setting on the “Dinner on the Bridge” to celebrate Knoxville’s 225th birthday.

What a great idea this was!

To celebrate Knoxville’s 225th birthday, the Arts & Culture Alliance hosted a dinner on the Gay Street Bridge Sunday night complete with keyboard music by Carol Zinavage Shane of the Knoxville Symphony and a reading of his inaugural poem by Knoxville’s new poet laureate, R.B. Morris.

The poem was called, “A Birthday Card to Knoxville,” and it was sweet and moving. Well-known auctioneer Sam Furrow auctioned off a painting of the Gay Street Bridge by well-known artist Mike C. Berry. And Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced that “contrary to speculation,” she would not be leaving her post early to accept a position in the Clinton administration should Hillary Clinton be elected president.

Former Knoxville mayor and ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, who was in attendance Sunday night, has been promoting that idea for months in his weekly newspaper column in the Shopper News. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 13 Comments

See the art of Chicago – and what’s on the way here!

Which one of these items does not belong? That would be my husband, Alan Carmichael, posing with sculptures from a gallery called Marlborough which has locations in New York, London, Barcelona and Madrid. This was at Expo Chicago.

Which one of these things is not like the others? That would be my husband, Alan Carmichael, posing with sculptures from a gallery called Marlborough, which has locations in New York, London, Barcelona and Madrid. This was at Expo Chicago.

If you see 16 people walking the streets of K-town looking dazed and disoriented, it will be the group who just returned from the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Collectors Circle trip to Chicago.

We saw so much art in such a short period of time that it was impossible to process. The core of the trip was a visit to Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, an annual event held at Chicago’s historic Navy Pier. The expo featured 145 of the world’s leading art galleries from 22 countries and 53 cities and included works by more than 3,000 artists.

Additionally, the Knoxville group visited The Arts Club of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, two galleries and the homes of two collectors. (Plus, we went to all those restaurants you saw on the previous Blue Streak post!)

The purpose of the trip was to look at modern and contemporary art, some of which is coming to Knoxville next year and some of which the museum is looking to acquire. Of particular interest were works by Knoxville native Beauford Delaney. Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Travel | 9 Comments