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.

What made the party such a success was the wide variety of things to see and do throughout the evening. Of course, having the elaborate food service handled by Holly Hambright and bar service by Jerry Kruse’s The Pour Guys was another guarantee that the evening would soar.

Kudos to event co-chairs Sandy Martin, Mickey Mallonee and Melissa Charles.

Kim Trent, left, and Gay Lyons welcomed folks as the evening kicked off.

These actors, Steven Trigg and Carolyn Corley, posed as John and Adelia Lutz, the original owners of Westwood, and welcomed guests to their home.

Things were getting frisky at our table right away! Here are Ellen Robinson and Peter Acly in a festive mood!

Annie Pentecost and Eric Barton of Villa Collina were at our table, too.

Cathy and Mark Hill.

Monique and Bruce Anderson rounded out our table. A fun group.

The centerpieces were gorgeous. And look at all those wine glasses!

The food began arriving shortly. This appetizer was my least favorite course — mostly because I couldn’t figure it out.

The menu said “beet and orange foie gras.” The little bites were not bad. But, as I said, “Huh?”

Next came oyster sformato with caviar. Now, you’re talking! There was an oyster in there! (A sformato is similar to a souffle, but not as airy, eliminating the risk that it will deflate. Clever.)

A little table-hopping seemed in order. Here are, from left, Caesar Stair, Ellen Capito, John Thomas, David Butler, Dorothy Stair and Arthur Coston.

Sara Fortune Rose, left, and K-Kin Fairbank Biggs.

Joanne and Jay Mounger.

Nazzy and Hash Hashemian.

Adam Sizemore and Nikki Hashemian.

“Consomme Lutz” was next. It consisted of chicken consomme, celery root brunoise and chicken and leek quenelles. (Brunoise is a technique of very finely dicing vegetables — in this case, celery root — sauteeing the dice in butter and using them to flavor soups and sauces. Quenelles are those oval-shaped masses of creamed chicken and leeks poached in the soup.) This course was light and delicious.

The Historic Westwood mansion has historic windows — single pane. And it was freezing on New Year’s Eve. So, we did what they did back in the day. We closed the heavy velvet curtains!

And, just like in the old days, it really kept out the cold! Thanks, Cathy, for that good idea!

This was my favorite course! Or, as my friend Madge Cleveland would say, the evening’s “best bite.” Called Lobster Americaine, it consisted of butter poached lobster with a rich tomato, paprika and shrimp stock. Yum!

Pete and Cindi DeBusk.

Cindi DeBusk with her daughter, Madison Gobbell from Charlotte.

Melinda and Jim Ethier.

Gail Jarvis, Dr. Deborah Franklin and Duane Grieve.


This course was called duck salmis served with pan sauce, brioche toast and green and crimson lentils. (A salmis is just a roasted piece of meat that is sliced and then reheated in sauce.)

From left, Dr. Martha Buchanan and Mary Ellen and Dr. Steve Brewington.

From left, Scott Brun, Susan Brown and Ann Pierce.

From left, Amy and Harry Bailey, Annette and Scott Brun.

Venison loin was next. It was served with creamed wild mushrooms, lemony cipollini onions, asparagus tips and duchess potatoes.

From left, Diana Samples, Dr. Michelle Brewer and John Neal.

Kay Clayton, left, with Ronda and Joe Landsman.

Bob Marquis and Townes Osborn.

I sneaked into the catering kitchen to try to find chef Holly Hambright. There she was in the midst of dessert prep!

Dessert, which drew rave reviews, was called “Pears Adelia.” It was trifled bourbon poached pears with brown sugar pecan cream and chocolate frangipane, which is a pastry filling. I couldn’t even think about dessert! But my husband, the dessert connoisseur, exclaimed, “When you got to the bottom, it was almost pure bourbon!”

Stanton and Adrienne Webster.

Richard and Bette Bryan.

From left, Jesse and Kelsey Von Fange and Hayden and Alyssa Antal.

From left, Brian and Gracen Marsh and Nikki and Robert Dickson.

Carolyn and Ron Lawrence.

We were quite full when we pushed away from the table and went out into the tent to check out what was going on there.

It was then that I noticed the stunning seasonal decorations on the mantel in the room in which we dined.

Mary Pom Claiborne, left, and Kim Trent.

Out in the tent, things were really cranking up. GO! Contemporary Dance Works had taken the stage and the folks who had signed up for the 9 p.m. buffet had arrived, swelling the crowd.

GO! Contemporary Dance Works merges classical ballet and contemporary dance.

Tom Johnson plays in both the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and the Streamliners, who provided dance tunes on New Year’s Eve. I caught him keeping up his strength at the buffet table. Good idea.

Regina Dean, left, and Kim Trent enjoying the festivities.

Nancy Voith and Kenneth Stark came in period attire.

Melissa and Chad Tindell.

Mrs. Tennessee, Virginia Mulrooney, was counting down with the rest of us!

From left, Mary Frances Tucker, Linda Williford, Sandy Martin and Billy Williford. Sandy and Linda are sisters. Their mother is Mary Frances.

Martha Breazeale, left with Lane Hays and Stuart Worden.

Chris and Riley Lambert, left, with Kendall and Mike Keller.

From left, Kati Blalock, Kay Clayton and Nazzy Hashemian.

Kim Henry, left, and Kim Trent.

Caesar Stair and Mickey Mallonee.

Samantha Edwards and David Butler.

David and Sandy Martin.

Scott and Lynne Fugate with Marsha Grieve, at right.

Gay Lyons and Steve Jenkins.

From left Andrea White, Dawn Coppock and Kyle Spence.

Russian opera singer Julia Lima knocked ’em dead, as she usually does!

Brandon Gibson of the Marble City Opera also performed.

Here he is with Kathryn Frady of Marble City Opera, left, and Julia Lima.

And then this happened!

From left to right, Katie Williford, Brendon Peterson, Erin Peterson, Luis Lester and Casey Lester. They aimed to get the dancing started!

And they did!

And then, it was midnight!

Hesamm and Lindsey Jo Gharavi knew what to do!

Bruce and Monique Anderson.

Mary and Dean Farmer.

Cheers, Kathy Briscoe!

Here’s the man of the hour! Jerry Kruse of The Pour Guys.

Jim and Kati Blalock.

Caesar and Dorothy Stair.

Tommy Walker and Cathy Ackermann – and a couple of photo bombers!

Ronda and Joe Landsman.

Alan Carmichael is ready for 2018!

As is Monique Anderson.

And this young lady!

Even though I couldn’t even THINK about it, a lavish breakfast buffet opened at midnight. I guess all that kissing made these folks hungry!

Happy New Year, everyone!


Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Grandiose ‘Gilded Age Gala’ greets 2018

  1. Ellen Robinson, on January 9th, 2018 at 2:11 pm said:

    THE BEST PARTY WE’VE EVER ATTENDED IN KNOXVILLE! So much fun — and the food and wines — amazing. Hats off to Knox Heritage, Kim, her committee and especially to Jeff Wilke and Sandy Martin the event leaders. Would not have missed it for the world!

  2. Sherri Gardner Howell, on January 9th, 2018 at 2:33 pm said:

    Wow! Knox is really getting creative and elegant with party/gala ideas. I guess that is what happens when you have a smart Exec. director and brave volunteer base! Congratulations to Kim T., Sandy Martin, the incredible Mickey M. and all involved.

  3. Peter Acly, on January 9th, 2018 at 2:58 pm said:

    A truly wonderful evening — and completely Over The Top!! It was a magical event in a magical setting; it succeeded in capturing the grace and glamor of a bygone time in this special place. Thanks to all who labored for so long to make it happen.

  4. Deborah Sams, on January 9th, 2018 at 2:59 pm said:

    Party of the century!

  5. Mickey Mallonee, on January 9th, 2018 at 3:02 pm said:

    Cynthia, thank you for the great review and so happy you and Alan had a wonderful time. It was a privilege to work with such a stellar committee to produce a stellar event.

  6. Gay Lyons, on January 9th, 2018 at 4:30 pm said:

    A once-in-a-lifetime party. Love the photos! It was hard to take everything in.

  7. Kim Trent, on January 9th, 2018 at 4:45 pm said:

    Thank you for the incredible coverage of the event and for being a guest! It was a spectacular evening that really was a dream come true. I feel like I’m going out with a bang! It could not have happened without our incredible crew of volunteers, sponsors, performers, designers, chefs, barkeeps and guests, especially Sandy Martin, Mickey Mallonee, Melissa Charles, Jeff Wilke, Chad Youngblood, Susan Ballard, Robin Easter, Whitney Sanders, Mary Pom Claiborne, Holly Hambright, Steven Leitner, Jerry Kruse, Melissa Burleson, Ann Bennett, Kim Henry, Dorothy Stair, Erin Peterson, Jeff Diviney and Leah McCall. An absolutely amazing team and party!

  8. Cynthia Moxley, on January 9th, 2018 at 8:47 pm said:

    Hey, everybody: Thanks so much for your comments. It was phenomenal!

    Kim: Thanks for listing everyone in your comment. I know it takes a village to pull of something like we experienced.

  9. DOROTHY STAIR, on January 10th, 2018 at 8:12 am said:

    The committee wanted to recreate the glamour of the Gilded age and the New Year’s party Adelia and John Lutz had at the end of the 19th Century in their brand new house then way out in the countryside.

    Thanks to the Aslan’s Foundation gift of the house to Knox Heritage for its headquarters and Knox Heritage led by the indefatigable Kim Trent for raising the money to restore and preserve it, Knoxville and East Tennessee will have a Center for preservation of its incredible history forever.

    Cynthia, you and you tiny camera superbly captured the spirit of this incredible, unforgettable party.

  10. Georgiana Vines, on January 10th, 2018 at 8:48 am said:

    Really enjoyed looking at the photos. Thanks for posting for those of us who couldn’t attend. The food looks scrumptious!

  11. Monique Anderson, on January 10th, 2018 at 8:57 am said:

    As always, Bruce and I had so much fun with you and Alan. And, the party was awsome!
    Happy New Year!!

  12. Cynthia Moxley, on January 10th, 2018 at 9:59 am said:

    Thanks for your comments, Dorothy and Georgiana. Monique: So glad you could join us!

  13. Pingback:Blue Streak covers Guilded Age Gala - Arts865

  14. John Dominic Barbarino, on January 10th, 2018 at 4:53 pm said:

    Without a proper house and well tended community this event’d only have been a dream. And after all that excellence all one ever has are pictures and memories. Happy New Year and congratulations to everyone who worked hard to give so much to all. And that cook in the house. Wow. Such a feast

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