This party was in the bag!

My shopping buddy, Monique Anderson, checking out the (all good) options.

When you go to a party in the only free-standing Patricia Nash store in the world, you are going to be tempted! Not only by the wide range of beautiful Italian leather offerings on display in the spacious showroom, but also by the not-for-sale samples and not-yet-for-sale offerings from upcoming seasons. One always wants what she can’t have, right?

About 40 folks discovered all this last Thursday at one of the Knoxville Symphony League’s Elegant Dining events held at Patricia Nash Designs located at 1132 N. 6th Ave., near downtown Knoxville. The only disappointment was that Patricia Nash herself was not present, but she did make a video for the occasion.

Some things we learned: Continue reading

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Mozart in the mountains

Andy Chabot, Blackberry’s sommelier and food and beverage director, poses in the open kitchen at The Barn at Blackberry Farm.

Seventy-five Knoxville Symphony supporters gathered Sunday at Blackberry Farm for what I think is one of the best opportunities of the fundraising year. You get to have dinner at our area’s premier dining establishment AND hear an intimate 30-minute performance by some of the Symphony’s best players. And you get a tax write-off in the process!

It’s no wonder this is Jim and Natalie Haslam’s favorite event. So much so that they are happy to lend their names as the honorary chairs of it.

As you will see, the food at this exclusive Relais & Chateaux property is a showstopper in itself. But the “show” was pretty good, too. The Knoxville Symphony’s new music director, Aram Demirjian, in high spirits after two acclaimed performances of a Bohemian Rhapsodies program last week, selected light and amusing pieces including “Sophisticated Lady,” which he dedicated to Natalie Haslam, and Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” — also known as “A Little Night Music.” Continue reading

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Urban League Gala — still one of year’s best parties

Grammy winner Lalah Hathaway’s smooth vibe made us feel like the Knoxville Convention Center was a bluesy nightclub.

Playing catch-up here! The Urban League Gala happened during a flurry of other great events toward the end of last year, and I wanted to be sure it got the attention it deserved.

It’s actually called the Knoxville Area Urban League Equal Opportunity Awards Gala — because of the worthy companies and individuals honored each year. But folks can be forgiven for just calling it the Urban League Gala — because it truly is one of the best straight up parties of the year!

This year, singer Lalah Hathaway — daughter of soul singer Donny Hathaway — brought her five-time Grammy Award-winning talent to the party. She played a full 90-minute set — the exact song list she performed as opening act for Mary J. Blige, with whom she toured last year.

Prior to Hathaway’s performance, this year’s awards were bestowed. Continue reading

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Kitchen 919: A tasty work in progress

Kitchen 919 is in the former location of The Orangery.

Last Friday, Alan and I decided to put an end to our curiosity and visit Kitchen 919, the new Bearden restaurant where the venerable Orangery used to be.  We are glad we did. Our verdict: The food was excellent. We had a great time. We are glad it is open. We think a few tweaks would significantly enhance the dining experience, but we recommend you check it out. You won’t regret it. Let me know if you agree with us.

Here’s our overall assessment. First, the pluses:

Food: Delicious. Our entrees were creative, beautiful and tantalizingly tasty. Alan had misoyaki glazed sea bass, and I had shrimp and a grits cake in andouille sausage cream sauce with a smoked red pepper puree. We loved both of them. And, of course, Alan was crazy about his dessert, red velvet cake, although, as you will see, it was a little unorthodox. Credit for the food goes to Carol Scott, a Cordon Bleu-educated Knoxville private chef known for her appearance on TV’s “Hell’s Kitchen” in 2009. Continue reading

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Michelle Henry: ‘She finished well.’

Michelle at a Moxley Carmichael bowling party in August 2016.

We at Moxley Carmichael said goodbye to a special friend and colleague this past weekend. Michelle Henry, who worked with us as a writer for more than 12 years, finally succumbed to the beast that is cancer after a valiant eight-year battle against it.

The disease began as colorectal cancer, but for more than a year, she was misdiagnosed by a doctor who told her she had irritable bowel syndrome. By the time she was accurately diagnosed, Michelle had stage 4 cancer. Michelle fought it with everything in her. She had radiation, chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. Every time she would beat it down for a while, it would seem to come roaring back in an even stronger state. In the end, she had a tumor the size of a softball on her liver, a tumor on her lymph node so large that it broke her rib, and cancer up and down her spine that paralyzed her legs and lower body.

Through it all, she was cheerful and hopeful. She was an inspiration to everyone she met. Even the nurses at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, where she spent three weeks near the end of her life, found her presence to be uplifting. All of us who visited her there came away amazed that she could laugh and joke and send us away from her hospital room with smiles on our faces. Continue reading

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Grandiose ‘Gilded Age Gala’ greets 2018

This was not your average New Year’s party! A gilded Erin Peterson heralds the start of the festivities.

Talk about an evening that had it all! That’s what the folks at Knox Heritage aimed for more than a year ago when Kim Trent, the preservation organization’s executive director, came up with the idea for an extravagant New Year’s Eve fundraiser.

“This was my dream party,” she exclaimed happily on New Year’s Eve this year as she surveyed the lavish decor, food and champagne-sipping guests in the historic Westwood mansion on Kingston Pike (where Knox Heritage is housed) and in a huge clear tent in the front yard. Trent has announced plans to leave her position at Knox Heritage later this year to pursue the next chapter in her career. She’s been there 15 years.

But let’s talk about that party! There was a seated dinner at 7, a buffet at 9 for folks who wanted a shorter evening, a variety of fun opera singers, performances by a contemporary dance troupe, dancing to the Streamliners big band and a champagne toast at midnight followed by a buffet breakfast. Continue reading

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What an impact – Natalie Haslam lauded for life’s work

Natalie Haslam accepting the East Tennessee Community Design Center’s Bruce McCarty Community Impact Award.

Every year, the East Tennessee Community Design Center recognizes a local leader with its Bruce McCarty Community Impact Award, named after its founder. “It is presented with the goal of celebrating and perpetuating both the quality of life in East Tennessee and the qualities of the leadership of Bruce McCarty,” said Rick Blackburn, chairman of the Community Design Center’s board of directors.

This year, that award went to philanthropist and art and history enthusiast Natalie L. Haslam. It was presented during a lovely sold-out dinner at The Foundry on World’s Fair Park.

Natalie Haslam’s commitment to East Tennessee is born from her love of it. A native Knoxvillian, she graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952. She was the first woman to be president of the Knoxville Symphony Society and has been president of the East Tennessee Foundation and the East Tennessee Historical Society. Continue reading

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Opera Ball knocked ’em dead! Here’s why.

An actual opera singer at the Opera Ball! How about that? Mezzo-soprano Catherine Daniel made a grand entrance into the Ann and Steve Bailey Hall at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

So, what’s the secret to having a sellout black tie fundraiser? The folks at Knoxville Opera know the answer to that. Here are some things they did right to make the annual Opera Ball — dubbed the Ruby Ball this year — a hot ticket:

Continue reading

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Knoxville Garden Club decks out Blount Mansion: another darn good reason for a party!

Blount Mansion “gets dressed” for the holidays. This pretty mantel was decorated by the Knoxville Garden Club, which also takes care of the grounds on the outside of the historic structure.

Blount Mansion, known to Native Americans when it was built in 1792 as “the house with many eyes,” is a special Knoxville space.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, it was built by William Blount, a North Carolina politician and land speculator and one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution. He was appointed by President George Washington to be governor of what was then known as the “Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio” (not the most creative name I’ve ever heard), part of which later would become the state of Tennessee.

Today, Blount Mansion, located downtown at 200 W. Hill Avenue, is recognized as the oldest museum in Knoxville and is dubbed the birthplace of the state of Tennessee because, not only did Blount, his family and his 10 slaves live there, but his office was there, from which he governed the young territory. Continue reading

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Cookies have been swapped! Let Christmas begin!

Michelle Hardin arriving at the cookie exchange with gingerbread people!

After 15 years, I guess it is a true tradition! I am speaking, of course, of the annual cookie exchange my friends and I have each December. It has become the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas season for many of us.

I am attaching a copy of this year’s invitation to the end of this post. A whimsical design by Katrina Roberts of Moxley Carmichael, it contains all the “rules” for the event. Although, if your group is like ours, you probably don’t care if folks follow all the rules. (One person actually brought bakery cookies this year, but we pretended not to notice!)

Just put out some good brunch or lunch fare and add Bloody Marys, mimosas, red wine, white wine and beer (from Cherokee Distributing Company, of course) and stand back as your friends swamp the cookie table selecting their favorites. This is an awesome way to spread cheer in this special season. Do try it! (Note: All but one of the photos on this blog post were taken by Moxley Carmichael’s digital storyteller, Pam Rhoades. The one that she didn’t take is the one that she is in. She set the lens and asked Susan Brown to press the button! Thanks, Pam!) Continue reading

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