Monday, January 9, 2012

RCLA's Town Hall Platinum Dinner

I am happy to be back to my Monday through Friday blog posting after taking off a few weeks for the holidays.  I missed my readers!

Season was back to warp-speed with THREE important events last Saturday night - the first weekend of the new year - the Sarasota Orchestra's Masterworks concert, the Perlman concert and gala, and then the Ringling College Library Association's Town Hall Platinum Dinner at the Ritz Carlton, which I co-chaired with my good friend Wendy Deming.

Our friend, Kristine Nickel is the 2012 Town Hall chair and she asked us to co-chair the Platinum Dinner.  I have never co-chaired anything with anyone, but doing this event with Wendy was a dream!  We are so much a like in so many ways, that it is kind of scary.

I chaired Town Hall many years ago, in the year 2000 to be exact (the year we were in the circus tent, no less, as the Van Wezel was under renovation), and it was one of my most memorable chairmanships.  I also chaired the Platinum Dinner in 2004 and was president of the Library Association board in 2005-2006.  After serving on the board since 1996, I finally rolled off the board in 2007.  I dearly love the Library Association and all it stands for.  It is a treasure to this community and we are all the richer for it.   

Newsweek editor extraordinaire, Tina Brown, was the speaker for the evening and she did not disappoint!  She told lots of fun and interesting stories about her career, including that she lunched with Princess Diana and Anna Wintour, just six weeks before Diana's death.  I thought one of the most interesting themes of her career was how she took both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker back to their roots of the 20's and 30's to make them successful again, by concentrating on great writing and inventive photography.  

Even her failure with Talk magazine was interesting.  Her main bit of advice about that?  Never have a hugely hyped launch party that is better and a bigger deal than the magazine.  And of course now Newsweek, combined with The Daily Beast, is her baby.  She spoke of how they both compliment each other with the legendary legacy of Newsweek and the friskiness of The Daily Beast, kicking off the conversation and then deepening the debate.  I am a faithful Newsweek subscriber of many years and I ADORE the magazine since she took over.

Now a few words about the Ritz Carlton....If you are a regular reader of my column, you know I am not the Ritz's biggest fan.  In the past, they have struggled with lagging dinner service and in my opinion, rather ho-hum food for it being "the Ritz".  I am very happy to say, that was NOT the case on Saturday night.  Rohin Singh, Senior Manager of Meetings and Special Events and Kathe Nasby, Banquet Captain, were really quite extraordinary!  They could not have been more accommodating or professional.  The staff was perfection.  Everyone put forth their very best foot and it was noticed by all the guests - many who mentioned it to me afterwards.  I was also a little worried about the food, but again, it was fabulous and a little different than they normally have.  As you can see in the photos below, the beet salad was colorful and also tasty, as was the entree - braised short ribs and seared scallops.  Now for the dessert...I don't even really like cherries, but this fanciful dessert was delish! 

Kathe also really helped us make a charming tablescape.  We wanted the beautiful program to be seen even though we had a pre-set first course.  It was Kathe's idea to lean them on the wine glass for optimum exposure.  The Community Foundation of Sarasota County was the evening sponsor and gave everyone a boxed piece of chocolate, which you can see in one of the photos below.  We were struggling with how to present it in its best light and Kathe also came up with the idea to have a two-person double team serving dessert - the first person presenting the dessert plate with the chocolate on it, followed by the second person with the actual parfait glass of cherry trifle to place on the plate after the guest had picked up the chocolate - very charming and elegant!  I loved the special touch!

The best thing of all - we ended exactly on time to the minute!  Wendy and I are both sticklers when it comes to that aspect of an event and the Ritz kept on the timetable beautifully.  Do I give the Ritz my coveted five star rating?  I most certainly do!

The Town Hall lecture series kicks off with former first lady Laura Bush on Wednesday.  Even though the series is basically sold out, sometimes you can be put on a waiting list and there might be a few tickets available for the evening lecture - call 925-1343. 

In addition to those photographed below, others attending were Howard and Janice Tibbals, Howard and Carol Phillips, Kathy Standard, Alice Rau, Paul Reamer, Stanley Kane, Betsy Kane Hartnett, Joel and Ellen Fedder, Ollie and Jerry Johnson, Les and Carol Brualdi, Paula Clemow, Francie Jones, Herman and Sharon Frankel, Lou Obendorf, Michael Longworth, Ginny McCloskey, Drs. Hardy and Allison Silver Schwartz, Art and Meade Ferguson, Allen and Connie Carlson, Cassie Nesbit, Kristi Bundrant, Marjorie Floyd, Linda Jacobs, Dr. Sarah and Dan Hoffe, Sandra Rios, Dr. James and Mary Lou Thomas, Jeanette Hyde, Bob and Bev Bartner, Kathleen List, Lee Wetherington, Chuck and Margie Barancik, Donna Berlin, Mike and Mary Jane Hartenstine, and Kate and Bill Korp, among many, many more.  

My Platinum Dinner co-chair, Wendy Deming, speaker Tina Brown, Town Hall 2012 chair, Kristine Nickel, and me!
(This photo only by Robert Pope - thanks, Robert!)

Tina Brown's various magazines through her career, starting with Tatler and Vanity Fair, lining the hallway to the ballroom....

.....followed by The New Yorker and Talk....

...followed by her book, The Diana Chronicles and ending up with Newsweek.

Pineview senior, Patrick Braga - composer and star pianist, welcomes guests 

Phyllis Anderson - RCLA Executive Administrator, preparing the registration table

The ballroom in all its black and hot pink glory!

The full tablescape

A close-up of the place setting

The centerpiece from The Naked Florist

Brent Greeno manning the sound and light booth for Sights and Sound wearing his grandfather's tuxedo vest!  Doesn't he look spiffy?

Pat and Dr. Larry Thompson, RCAD president

Michael and Stacey Corley, RCLA board president

Community Foundation of Sarasota County President & CEO, Roxie Jerde and husband, Mike Jerde

Lisa and Matt Walsh

Merry and Stan Williams

Bill Buttaggi and Debra Jacobs

Renee Eppard and Jay Logan

Jocelyn Stevens and Charlie Huisking

Stephanie Grosskreutz and Linda Whitacre

Ann and Larry Garberding

Gayle Guynup and Renee Pastor

Peggy Wilhelm and Grace Riker

Isabel Norton, Gwen MacKenzie, and Carolyn Johnson

Kathy and Richard Stern and Susan and Tom Radcliffe

Victoria Leopold, Renee Hamad, Teri Hansen, and Steve Wilberding

Charles and Dee Stottlemyer and Karen and Ted Eastmoore

Susan Schaen, Flori Roberts, Elaine Keating, and Harriet Allweis

Dorothy and Don Stuart

Dr. Jeane McCarthy, with daughter, Wendy Deming

Diane McFarlin and Kristine Nickel

Gary Kompothecras with Nancy and Dan Bailey

Richard Dorfman and Suzette Jones

Matt and Margaret Callihan, Laura Nelson and Ron Gelbman

Gary Heard, Renee and Walt Eppard, Kristine Nickel and Jack Klingensmith

Cary and Koni Findlay

Kim Cornetet and Stephania Feltz

One of my very favorite couples, Don and Susan Featherman

Kristine Cox and Berry Taylor

Sally Yanowitz and Lois Stulberg

Pat Frye and Olivia Thomas

Jay and Veronica Brady

Our divine menu

Roasted beet salad with goat cheese, honey, and winter greens

A chocolate treat  from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Town Hall Cherry Trifle with chocolate spiced cookie

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