Mary Celeste Beall, proprietor of Blackberry Farm, welcoming guests. Blackberry has partnered on this event since 2005, preparing the dinner under the direction of a visiting celebrity chef.
If you run into anybody on the board or staff of the Knoxville Museum of Art, please forgive them if they seem a little giddy. They deserve to be because they are coming off the most successful L’Amour du Vin in the 15-year history of the event.
Held in the museum’s Ann and Steve Bailey Hall and in an elegant tent in the museum’s north garden, L’Amour du Vin is a huge gourmet dinner and wine auction to benefit the museum. More than 300 folks attended to sample more than a dozen wines and dine on the cuisine of Chef Nancy Oakes of Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco. Wine pairings at dinner were provided by vintner Darioush Khaledi of Napa. Food was prepared by the staff of Blackberry Farm.
Another guest of honor was artist Darren Waterston of New York, who has work in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
Randy and Melissa Burleson were co-chairs of the monumental foodie happening and presenting sponsor was Lexus of Knoxville.
State Sen. Becky Massey, left, with David and Pam Jordan during the wine tasting prior to dinner.
Sheena McCall and Eddie Mannis.
Jerry Becker, left, with the evening’s auctioneer, Bear Stephenson.
Susan Brown and Mark Grayson.
Rosemary Gilliam, left, with featured artist Darren Waterston and Robin Hutchins.
Cathy and Mark Hill.
How about a glass of champagne to help transition from the Great Hall to the tent on the lawn?
This year, the tent’s decor was stunning.
Lord, look at all those wine glasses!
Mike Strickland is CEO of Bandit Lites, which did a wonderful job of providing ambience for L’Amour du Vin. With him is Allison Burchett in a knockout dress.
From left, Ted Smith, Jennifer Bergner and David Butler, the executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Soon everyone was seated and ready to eat, drink and party!
First course was burrata with chicory, dinosaur kale, confit tomato vinaigrette and sorghum. This was one fantastic salad.
Wine was a 2016 Darioush chardonnay from Napa Valley. (I know I always say I don’t like chardonnay, but I liked this one!)
Ann and Steve Bailey.
April and Stephen Harris.
Elizabeth Harwood and Aaron Pierce.
Renee and David Sprouse.
Nancy and Stephen Land.
This was my favorite course of the night: pheasant and porcini meatballs with wild greens spaetzle, Vacca Rossa Parmesan and winter truffles.
It was paired with this great 2014 Darioush Caravan blend from Napa Valley.
Brittany and Whitfield Bailey with Andy Hillmer, center.
Annie and David Colquitt.
Chris and Fran Leonard.
Garrett and Courtney Jernigan.
Stephen Wicks and Wokie Massaquoi-Wicks. Stephen is curator of the Knoxville Museum of Art.
This is dry-aged American Wagyu zabuton with wild mushrooms, farro piccolo and nettle, pine cone syrup and roasted beef jus. (The steak is called zabuton because of its flat shape, like that of a Japanese sitting cushion.)
This was paired with a 2014 Darioush merlot from Napa Valley.
Ty and Suzanne Prince.
Malcolm and Beth Foster.
Nell Brewington and Paul David Kedrow.
Nell with her parents, Steve and Mary Ellen Brewington.
Paul David with his parents, Paul and Donna Kedrow.
Delicious dessert was Medjool date cake with huckleberry compote, pecan creme Anglaise, candy cap mushroom ice cream and hickory nuts.
It was paired with a 2014 Darioush shiraz from Napa Valley.
Debbie and Ron Watkins.
Allen Papp, left, with Darren Waterston and Susan Hyde. Susan, retired from the Knoxville Museum of Art, is a founder of L’Amour du Vin.
Susan and Kent Farris.
Crista Harwood and Dave Robey.
Michael Dingley, center, with Dr. Saji Gopinathan, left, and Dr. Sudha Nair.
R.J. Hinde and Andria Yates.
Marga and Jay McBride.
From left, Sarah Tarver, Mark Grayson, Susan Brown and Craig Shelton.
Susan and Lee Hyde.
Brenda and Dr. Robert Madigan.
Emcee Ted Hall of WVLT-TV got the evening rolling as servers poured more wine. This time, it was a 2014 Darioush cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley. (Perhaps because I already had tasted so many wines, I forgot to take a picture of it!)
Vintner Darioush Khaledi, an immigrant from Iran, got a standing ovation when he ended his talk with the comment, “God bless America.”
Ted introduced Chef Nancy Oakes.
Mary Celeste Beall encouraging bidders during the live auction.
The celebs: from left, Shahpar Khaledi, Darren Waterston, Darioush Khaledi, Nancy Oakes and her husband, Bruce Aidells.
Sitting, Shahpar and Darioush Khaledi; standing, from left, Darren Waterston, Nazzy Hashemian and Hash Hashemian.
From left, Dana Younkin, Nancy Oakes, Darioush Khaledi and Richard Crocker.
From left, Alan Carmichael, Daniel Flore, Paige Hughes, Steven Hess, Stefanie Hess, Doug White and Cathy Briscoe-Graves.