Home » Memories

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

26 January 2013 3,423 views No Comment

One week from today Austin’s Project Transitions, a non-profit dedicated to helping those living with HIV and AIDS, will host its annual “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” fundraiser. If you are available next Saturday, Feb. 2, I highly recommend that you make a reservation.

Last year, I was invited to cover the event on my blog, and I decided that it would make more sense to wait and post about my experience until tickets went on sale for this year’s event. Of course, life got busy and now I’m just telling you about it the week before. Hopefully it’s not too late for you to join the fun.

Photo Credit: Ashley Landis, Austin-American Statesman

Photo Credit: Ashley Landis, Austin-American Statesman

Tickets are just $100 and include a mult-course meal with alcohol hosted by some of the most fabulous people in Austin — most often, in their homes. This year, some of the meals will take place in the W Residences, and there will be a larger dinner for 36 people in the home of Eddie Bernal of 34th Street Cafe. After dinner, there is a champagne and dessert reception at Nest Modern. Last year, we were way to full, and too drunk, to make it to the reception after, but our experience at Gateway Guesthouse was worth at least the price of admission, if not double.

Blaise and Bess

Blaise and Bess

Blaise Bahara and Bess Ginnakakis are the owners of Gateway Guesthouse, an amazing B&B on Riverside Drive, and they hosted a group of 11 guests for a dinner themed,  “Mississippi Rising: A Culinary Journal Down Ol’ Man River.” The guests included Angelle Hall and Eric Frost; Jan Hill; Kimberly Kohlhaas; Lynn McNeill and Torbin McEwen; Michael Barnes; Robin Sanders; Wendy Smith and Kathryn Miller. It was a great group, and Adam and I already knew Kimberly and Michael, and quickly got to know everyone else in this talkative and friendly bunch.

Photo Credit: Ashley Landis, Austin American-Statesman

Photo Credit: Ashley Landis, Austin American-Statesman

The table was set beautifully with polished stones snaking down the middle to symbolize the river, and hand-painted napkins featuring the Mississippi River valley.


Every dish and accompanying drink was inspired by a trip down the Mississippi River, from north to south. Before each course, either Blaise or Bess would describe the inspiration for that particular course, and would teach us something new about the food, culture, and region. Dishes included pork loin with corn whiskey demi-glace, catfish with hush puppy croutons, bourbon veloute drizzled over the most amazing fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit, Memphis-style BBQ, and a chocolate mousse profiterole in Cajun rum sauce.

Each guest was given a piece of paper printed with facts about the history, food and drink of the area around the Mississippi river from north to south, to introduce each course.

Tobin reading

This year, Blaise and Bess chose the film, “Big Night,” as their theme, and will be serving seven courses to celebrate “the food, drink & dance of the film.” Other dinners on the list that feature well-known foodies and stood out to me include a dinner with Paula Angerstein & Paul Grosso of Paula’s Texas Spirits featuring their “award-winning Flemish chicken.” The co-owners of El Chile and caterer of Gina’s Kitchen are hosting a dinner they call “The Three ‘Pretty’ Tenors,” the Lake Austin Spa chef, his wife and Jane King, co-founder of Patricia’s Lunchbox are hosting “Dinner in the Land of the Midnight Sun,” the talented Tipsy Texans David Alan and Joe Eifler are co-hosting “Art and the Cocktail, ” and Boggy Creek Farm‘s Carol Ann Sayle & Larry Butler, along with food and Austin Chronicle wine writer Wes Marshall and his wife Emily, are hosting “A Night at the Dog Trot.” For a full list of the dinners, click here.

UPDATE:  As of Jan. 27, the dinners that are still open for guests include:

  • A 1940’s Casablanca-themed large dinner with a red carpet and photographer 1940’s Hollywood glamour setting
  • A Winning Recipe, Paula Angerstein’s dinner (where she is preparing the Flemish chicken recipe that she won 1st place for in the Meals on Wheels contest in 2012.
  • Bob the Builder where chefs David Harop and Phil Yennerell will be doing the cooking
  • Mediterranean Comfort at Food! Food!


Tags: , , ,