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Hello, dahlings! Delaware’s social movers and shakers burst onto the scene in all their spring finery to support a variety of charitable causes and just have fun! Meals From the Masters offered something to satisfy every palate. And an Affair with the Arts was an affair for the books. There was of course, much more.

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD

The 11th annual Meals From the Masters’ premier event was the Chef’s Brunch, held on an overcast Sunday morning at the Bank of America in downtown Wilmington. This fundraiser, which helps Meals on Wheels Delaware provide nutritious home-delivered meals to senior citizens, provided a bright ray of sunshine for about 1,500 supporters. We greeted former Republican State Representative Roger Roy with the salutation, “Welcome, to Delaware’s newest Democrat!” and he roared with laughter. His wife, Paula Roy, executive director of the Delaware Health Care Commission, smiled and demurred politely when asked whether she had also changed her political affiliation to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary for governor. Instead, she pointed out that they were heartily enjoying spicy shrimp with sausage and tasso gravy prepared by Magnolias Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.

Wilmington City Council President Ted Blunt pronounced the wild boar tortellini with sweet peas, crimini mushrooms and pecorino cheese, served by Wilmington’s Deep Blue Bar and Grill chefs Dan Butler and Clifton Aycock, as “just unbelievable.”

Attorney Steve Goldberg of Saul Ewing, and his wife, Jane Goldberg, who runs her own corporation services business, are both members of the Kitchen Kabinet, a large volunteer group that organizes and presents the weekend-long fundraiser. Jane played a leadership role in coordinating the Friday night portion of the event, and though she wasn’t officially volunteering on Sunday, she wanted to be sure we knew that, “This event is a group effort. No one person is responsible, and every volunteer contributes to its success.” Meg Hudson, co-owner of Wilmington’s Domaine Hudson Wine Bar & Eatery, which served crab BLTs in the main room, was sampling wines on Bank of America’s windowed patio. Her favorite of the day was a sparkling Italian Prosecco from Moore Brothers in Trolley Square.

It’s no wonder Rich Neumann, the communications specialist in Mayor Jim Baker’s office, loved the Dungeness crab Foo Yung from chef Tom Douglas’ Dahlia Lounge in Seattle. Douglas, a Delaware native who once prepared crab cakes in the Hotel du Pont’s kitchen, has garnered a multitude of accolades and awards, including Best Northwest Chef from the James Beard Association. Rich was accompanied by Odette Kugler, a French teacher at Friends School, who was a knockout in her boldly patterned black-and-white print dress. Odette sampled frilled octopus tacos prepared by Butler and fellow Deep Blue chef Julio Lazzarine. Rich’s proclamation: “The octopus has a delicate and mysterious flavor with a hint of cilantro that is so refreshing!”

Jeff Starkey, commissioner of Wilmington’s licenses and inspection department, and his wife, Yvonne Starkey, raved about the glazed pork tenderloin from Sherwood’s Landing Restaurant in Saint Michael’s, Maryland. Harold Gray, a vice president of United Way of Delaware said, “The tuna tartar with quail egg in ginger sauce is to die for.” His wife, Linda Gray, a retired magistrate, agreed. Linda was decked out in a black lace vest that Harold bought for her in the Austrian Alps. She artfully paired it with what Harold referred to as “a baby doll dress” in pink and black with matching jewelry and purse.

Steve Horgan, proprietor of Wilmington’s Movable Feast, enjoyed his “busman’s holiday” from cooking and serving gourmet food. Jerry Bilton, executive director of the Community Service Building, came dressed for fun in a loose, colorful Tommy Bahama shirt. “This event is my idea of heaven,” he said as he moved to the next food station with his wife, Michel Peco Bilton.

New Castle County Executive Chris Coons said, “I’m excited that there are things here from as far away as Australia and as close as Greenville, and it’s all equally good.” A surprise crowd-pleaser was Janssen’s Market in Greenville, which provided a selection of three appetizers, including a cheese plate with two fabulous cow’s milk cheeses: Mt. Tam paired with fig bread and Bayley Hazen Blue, with fresh walnut preserve. We noticed more than one partygoer returning for seconds.

A BIGGS AFFAIR

Leave it to the Biggs Museum of American Art to raise black tie partying in Kent County to an art form. At its fourth annual gala, An Affair with the Arts, the buzz was, as one guest remarked, “This is the one.” And what a picture perfect night. Under a moonlit sky on Legislative Mall, the Biggs’ guests were elegantly adorned while enjoying food, drink and dancing under a sumptuous white tent.

In the crowd of 400 you saw it all: old Dover (and if you live in Dover you know that is a reference to families, not age), new Dover, art lovers and party lovers. Gala chairs Tom and Terry Burns were gracious hosts. Thrilled with the evening’s outcome, Terry noted, “It’s one of the places you can go where you have all generations present, and it was fun and successful.” Tom and Terry’s parents, Walt and Thelma Lou Ellis, and their son Tommy joined them for the night, mingling in a crowd that included 2007 chairs Kip and Joe McDaniel, Charlie Rodriguez, Linda and John Paradee, Trisha Capodanno, Chaz and Sue Salkin, and State Auditor Tom Wagner.

After four years, word about this “in” event is slipping “out” beyond Kent County. Wilmingtonians are coming down—Gary Hindes and George Hering were spotted—and Sussex Countians are coming up. Hetty Hertrich, Wayne Hanby and Sheila Davalos made their way from Rehoboth.

And let’s not forget the real reason for the party: fundraiser and friendraiser for the Biggs Museum. “It’s a first-class museum, so we have to put on a first-class event,” said board president C. Terry Jackson II.

Anyone who missed the gala can tide themselves over until next year’s event with a visit to the museum. Its impressive collection of American fine and decorative arts and its current Delaware Silver Exhibition are sure to enchant.

A Decade of DCAD +1

The Delaware College of Art & Design celebrated its first 11 years with a tented street party and live auction to raise funds for scholarships. Former Wilmington City Councilwoman Beth O’Donnell looked stunning in a chic black sleeveless sweater, indigo trouser jeans and beaded sandals. She proudly pointed out her new bejeweled necklace. “I picked this up for half-price at Cherishables in Trolley Square during the Art Loop,” Beth said. “It was fun.” Beth was accompanied by her beau, David Baldt, who, looking for additions to his art collection, left with an armload of student paintings that he picked up at bargain prices. The big sale of the night was George A. “Frolic” Weymouth’s mixed media work “Bluebells.” Bidding started at $10,000 and went up in $500 increments until Irénée du Pont May walked away with the prize for $45,000. It’s art, it’s fun, and it’s all for a good cause.

OUTPOURING OF SUPPPORT

Nicole Testa, co-owner of Chez Nicole in Wilmington, and her sister Cynthia Herrick, a hair stylist at the salon, pitched in as celebrity guest bartenders for a fun-packed night at Wilmington’s 317 Irish Pub to benefit The Kelly Heinz-Grundner Brain Tumor Foundation. The petite, dark-haired beauties seemed unlikely candidates for the assignment, and Nicole reported that it was not easy trying to master the beer tap. “Our first glasses were all foam,” she said, “but by the end of the night we were pouring the beers without a head and making some amazing drinks.”

More than 100 friends and family members attended the event, which raised almost $2,000.

Special guest Congressman Michael Castle towered over the two sisters as they posed for photos. His wife, Jane Castle, attended to see Nicole and Cynthia’s mother, Madelyn Maglin. The two have been friends since childhood, and Jane is Nicole’s godmother. Nicole and Cynthia, who are both battling brain tumors, also put together a team for the foundation’s walkathon on Wilmington’s Riverfront. “As soon as I heard about it, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to do this,’” Nicole said. The sisters recruited 200 walkers who solicited pledges for their team. Through the combination of guest bartending and the walk, Team Chez Nicole raised more than $32,000 for patients with brain tumors. Ta-ta, ’til next time!

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