Les Dames d’Escoffier Dallas’ Raiser Grazer Showed Support for Women in Culinary Arts

White bread pudding with chocolate caramel sauce and frozen hot chocolate whipped cream (left) photos by Ariel Gonzalez
White bread pudding with chocolate caramel sauce and frozen hot chocolate whipped cream (left) photos by Ariel Gonzalez

More than 400 people saw Union Station transform into a food paradise on Sunday for the Raiser Grazer and Silent Auction hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier, Dallas. Being a vegetarian who loves food, I felt right at home. From being greeted with a glass of Blanc de Blanc, walking into a room full of decadent sweets and smelling the savory meat dishes from the main hall, I could only imagine how I would’ve gorged myself if I ate meat. Trust me, the five-spiced pork belly on a steamed bun with pickled vegetables and homemade kimchi smelled scrumptious, but alas, my ideology got the best of me.

This year’s theme of “Dames go Local” showcased more than 75 of the finest dames involved in the Dallas culinary arts scene. From executive pastry chef Dunia Borga of La Duni to meat specialist Sandy Breuss of Sysco North Texas, women from all corners of the gastronomic world offered their best to guests. Each dame had her own table to display her creation and provide more information regarding her business or restaurant.

Guests were invited to participate in a silent auction.
Guests were invited to participate in a silent auction.
(left to Right) Chair of the Raiser Grazer Mary Kimbrough, Dame Wendy Taggart, board member Rachel Gaffney
(left to Right) Chair of the Raiser Grazer Mary Kimbrough, Dame Wendy Taggart, board member Rachel Gaffney

A DJ spun tunes from MC Hammer to Enrique Iglesias in the chandelier-studded main hall, which boasted a cocktail bar, wine station, several dame savory treats, and tables and comfy chairs for guests. Lakewood Brewing Company, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company and Peticolas Brewing Company were representing for the local brew scene at an outdoor “Beer Garden” patio, where I enjoyed a cold milk stout aptly named “Temptress” by Lakewood.

Adjacent to the main hall, a room where dames specializing in sweeter fare offered guests a taste of sugar bliss. The Texas Lavender Macaroon by Dame Shari Carlson of Dessert Dreams perfectly balanced floral and chocolate notes with a delightful, chewy consistency. The silent auction room next to the dessert haven found Dame Lisa Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse offering mesquite-smoked peppered tenderloin while guests eyed auction items up for grabs. From a “Pinot Noir Experience” by Wrath Wines (a $200 estimated value) to a week’s holiday for two at Pirates Point Resort on Little Cayman Island (a $4,190 estimated value), there was a little something for everybody.

Five spiced Porkbelly on steamed buns with fried rice and housemade kimchee from Bravo!!
Five spiced Porkbelly on steamed buns with fried rice and housemade kimchee from Bravo!!
Chocolate soup and lavender macarons
Chocolate soup and lavender macarons
Local producer Linn Madsen with students from Le Cordon Bleu
Local producer Linn Madsen with students from Le Cordon Bleu

Mary Kimbrough, chair of this year’s Raiser Grazer, said Les Dames d’Escoffier, Dallas is an invitation-only, non-profit association that promotes and supports the accomplishments of women in the culinary profession. She said people who “are really good at their craft” in the food business are eligible for membership. Members include wine makers, producers, nutritionists, chefs and restaurateurs. “Our main mission is to support women in the food business and also to educate them and provide lots of scholarships,” Mary said.

Les Dames member and assistant to the public relations committee Karol Wilson said the organization has raised more than one million in scholarships for women pursuing a culinary arts career. Karol said Les Dames is a fierce and compassionate group. “We have some really strong, talented and extremely professional women,” Karol says. “This is a great group to be a part of. The women are very supportive of each other.”

Nonna’s Lasagne and Arugula salad
Nonna’s Lasagne and Arugula salad

Sally Bolick Strong, a dame of 17 years and event planner for the catering and event planning company, Bravo!! (and the woman representing the aromatic pork belly I mentioned earlier), said Les Dames d’Escoffier is vital to the Dallas food scene. “There are so many people that are interested in good food and fine beverages,” Sally said. “We’re able to bring along these young, talented girls, provide them with an education, and provide them with internships with good, excellent chefs. Being able to give them an opportunity to work really closely with successful women, I think it’s been wonderful for their self-esteem.”

With a noble cause, prestigious members and fine philosophy, Les Dames d’Escoffier, Dallas is sure to stick around to bless our city with good food, education, and many more Raiser Grazers you should be sure to attend in the future.

Caren Rodriguez is a journalism senior at the University of North Texas. She has been interning with D Magazine since January. She loves learning and writing about food, wine and spirits almost as much as enjoying them wherever she can.