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Black Tie & Tales

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  • | 5:00 a.m. March 6, 2013
"The Royal Chef" Darren McGrady. Photo by Stephanie Hannum.
"The Royal Chef" Darren McGrady. Photo by Stephanie Hannum.
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+ ‘Eating Royally’
More than 435 guests filled Michael’s On East’s ballroom and ate like royalty for Junior League of Sarasota’s Legacy Luncheon Feb. 26. The luncheon — sold out two weeks prior (and boasting a waiting list!) — featured “The Royal Chef” Darren McGrady. The chef spent 11 years as one of Queen Elizabeth’s chefs and, then, following Princess Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles, served as Diana’s head chef at her home, Kensington Palace, until her death.

The chef told stories about the royals, along with a slideshow of great photos and handwritten notes, including: He traveled with the queen to all of her residences and cooked for 100 different kings, queens and presidents; at 4 p.m. every day, no matter where she is in the world, the queen has her afternoon tea with scones (which she crumbles onto the floor for her dogs); Princess Diana had a small dining table in her home to feel connected with those who visited; and his chocolate biscuit cake recipe was used as Prince William’s groom cake at the royal wedding (the chef was not attendance, he was cooking for Oprah that day).McGrady made more than a few jokes about Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall — and he even left the royal service after Princess Diana’s death rather than work for Charles and Camilla, like they had requested. To honor Princess Diana, royalties from his cookbook, “Eating Royally,” benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

+ Big-band fun
Although the band was hot, once they took a break, Sarasota’s midnight got moved up to 9:30 p.m. Saturday night at the Asolo gala, themed “American Big Band.” Noteworthy from the evening was Nikki Sedacca’s new short-and-sassy haircut; Wendy Feinstein’s flapper outfit that she bought without an event in mind (you’ve got to love the closet gods!); the table attendants who came with each of the high-level sponsored tables were a fabulous bonus; the gala was Jennifer Grondahl’s last production as an event planner (a week off then she’s back to work in her new position at the YMCA Foundation). What especially caught the eye of BT was the adorable interaction between Sandy Buchanan and her mom, Pauline Cudnohufsky. The 93-year-old (she is going to be a great-great grandmother in a few months!) is visiting from Oxford, Mich., and clearly the root of Buchanan’s beauty.

+ Tidbits
… Black … Prada 6-inch peep-toe-ankle-strap-suede booties — nothing is more fun than asking Susan Jones about her shoes … And white … was the color of the amazing dotted-Swiss blouse that Diane Roskamp wore to the Asolo gala March 2, easily the most stunning fashion of an extremely fashionable evening. Its story is even better — Diane saw but did not buy it last year in Paris. Husband, Bob, with help from Susan Palmer, tracked it down and presented it to her this year as a Valentine’s Day/anniversary gift
… Guess who? ... A couple who is traveling north for five days reports they will miss 11, count them 11, engagements. There’s nothing quite like a Sarasota season!
... Farm to table … A few lucky patrons got to experience the King Family Farm’s Farm to Table Feb. 19 dinner, featuring The Loft 5’s chef, A.J. These gatherings, now being offered weekly, are a gourmet picnic under the stars. Last week’s menu included pimento-and-bacon kale bites; vegetable Napoleons with fresh ricotta cheese; and butternut squash tart with fresh whipped cream (to name a few). Seen touring the farm with Shannon King and dining on the delectable bites were Sheryl Vieira, Kristiana Serbin and Michelle Detweiler … Busy birthdays ... NK ProductionsNicole Kaney was a busy planner last weekend perfecting two big birthday parties, including one at George and Tina Skestos’ Longboat Key home to celebrate George’s 85th birthday. The couple and their friends dined on steak and lobster tails (catered by the Longboat Key Club) under a canopy of lights that reminded them of a family trip to Tuscany … Private tasting ... Cabinet Extraordinaire’s owner and National Kitchen & Bath Association Central Florida president, Sharon Hicks, hosted a private tasting with Chef Will Ratley Feb. 28. Ratley, corporate executive chef with Sub-Zero and Wolf, just came back from the Cayman Cookout, hosted by Chef Eric Ripert, with Anthony Bourdain and Chef José Andrés. Ratley also owns six restaurants, located in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. Seen enjoying his dishes were Anne Scott, Tish FitzGerald, Donna Mateer, Lindsay Howell and Craig Kmiecki.

Black Tie Affair
‘Madcap Evening — The Anniversary Edition’
Benefiting: Senior Friendship Centers
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12
Where: Senior Friendship Center, 1888 Brother Geenen Way
Tickets: $150
Contact: 556-3205
Groucho Marx has finally retired but Senior Friendship Centers’ fourth annual “Madcap Evening” will be zanier than ever in celebration of the organization’s 40th anniversary. The ’70s-themed evening includes a decade-appropriate dinner by Phil Mancini of Michael’s on East; a “Swinging ’70s Revue” featuring pop hits by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe; Broadway’s best by Jamie Day and Steve Dawson; and a disco demo by Stephen Seig and Ivanna Vargo. There will be informal modeling of ’70s fashions styled by Purabell House of Fashion, ’70s vehicles on display, an open bar and one of Sarasota’s best silent auctions. Chaired by Harold Ronson and Molly Schechter, honorary Chairwoman Betty Schoenbaum and 40th anniversary chairs Phil and Julie Delaney.


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