Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Hot cars, hot food send hearts racing

        Whew, talk about a weekend that cranked up the drool factor on the benefit circuit, this was it. Hot cars and tables groaning under mountains of not-your-usual-benefit food.


        The 25th annual Concours d'Elegance kicked off a full weekend of activities with a preview Fridayat a private garage in Carthage — a garage cleaner than most people's homes, we might add — showing off a collection of 20-something vintage jobs owned by Tom Stegman.

        Things like a '51 black Ferrari and a '62 Mercedes roadster, a handful of Corvettes, Austin-Healeys and more, all in absolute pristine condition.

        A sold-out crowd of 200 paid $50 to sip wine, chomp appetizers and kick off a weekend that included a Saturday road rally and dinner and the Sunday show at Ault Park with 9,000-10,000 attending. Proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation.

        Blessings of Liberty: As for food, well, Friday was also the Museum Center's annual gala, this year titled the Blessings of Liberty and themed to all things patriotic, including lots of red, white and blue ties, vests, scarves, shirts, dresses and at least one hairdo with scarves woven through it.

        In keeping with the theme of the $125-a-head affair, food was a grazing thing from six food stations stocked with all-American favorites — like Maine seafood chowder, Montana-cured rainbow trout, roasted elk, jambalaya, poached asparagus, Santa Fe chicken, rattlesnake, and bean and corn relish. That's only a fraction of the feast.

        About 400 filled the Union Terminal rotunda — trying desperately not to knock over the poor soul in an Uncle Sam suit with 6-foot stilts — while slides of American landmarks were projected on walls and the ceiling.

Jayson Lewellyn of the Iron Horse.
(Philip Groshong photo)
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        Chefs unleashed: More food, this from 20 restaurants that turned chefs loose Sunday to cook up house specialties at a FreeStore/FoodBank do at Tower Place. The mall, you'll note, never looked better, what with drapes hiding the regular restaurants and white- and black-themed tables around the center fountain.

        But the food starred. Dedicated to the memory of event coordinator Terri Heekin Murrie, killed in a car crash in May, it drew close to 500 guests who paid $60 to sample mini-servings from the chefs.

        Servings such as sliced beef tenderloin from Morton's, seared tuna served rare from Jeff Ruby's, breaded shrimp from Pacific Moon, tons of pasta from Pompilio's and Palomino's, a bit of sushi and desserts that should be illegal.

        The night's longest line? As nearly as we can tell, it was for the Iron Horse, serving chef Jayson Lewellyn's newest menu item: Sliced tenderloin topped with Gorgonzola and truffle oil. “My third trip,” said one guest in line. “I really should try something else, don't you think?”


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