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Photo by Gittings

What: Tales from Highclere Castle, A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon

Where: Dallas Arboretum

The 411: Dallas' most regal luncheon of the season transported guests to the dining room of Downtown Abbey, where they dined on an elegant multicourse meal while wine stewards kept glasses full, and the hostess even dropped a funny tidbit about Lady Mary. (More on that in a sec.)

Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon, author and real-life Lady of Highclere Castle - otherwise known as the filming site of TV's Downton Abbey - was the featured speaker at A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden on October 18.

Chaired by Dyann Skelton and Therese Rourk, with Donna and Herb Weitzman as honorary chairs and Sarah Jo Hardin as Women's Council president, the event was part of a week-long Noble Celebration of the 25th anniversary of A Woman’s Garden and the 40th anniversary of the Women’s Council.

Fiona, the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, is married to Geordie, 8th Earl of Carnarvon. They have lived at, and cared for, England's Highclere Castle since 2001 - before Downton Abbey came knocking to make it the most famous castle in the world. (And yes, hey shared their home with the cast and crew of the TV series and movies.) She is the best-selling author of five books, historian, speaker, fundraiser, and manager of castle-related global endeavors, including award-winning Highclere Castle Gin and Chateau Highclere vineyards (with a forthcoming pink sparkling wine).

After a VIP reception, at which patrons could take a Gittings Photography portrait with Lady Carnarvon and enjoy mimosas, small bites, and a coffee bar sponsored by Patti Mitchell and Kay Weeks, the crowd sat down to a luncheon and presentation inside Rosine Hall.

Lady Carnarvon, who was making her first visit to Dallas, took the crowd on a fascinating and intimate journey through four seasons of Highclere and included projected photos and highlights from her new book, Seasons at Highclere.

Among the highlights were:

  • A history of Highclere from its earliest records in 1216 to today. For example, in 1908, there were 100 gardeners and today there are four. She and her husband often plan the landscape, then get in the dirt to plant and tend the grounds themselves.
  • They plant with the seasons in mind, and each season brings a new personality to the castle, from the spring fields of new grass to the summer wildflowers, the changing colors of leaves in fall, and the snow on trees in winter.
  • Paths are made on purpose for humans and wildlife to enjoy. Trees are placed to encourage wandering, and flowers planted to encourage insect and bee habitats.
  • Life at Highclere includes a menagerie of animals, including "Lady Mary, the pig" and others. Animals (including other pigs, horses, sheep, and lambs) are named after characters in Downton Abbey. Chickens are named for characters from Jane Austen books. She and her husband have seven dogs.
  • This year they launched the Lady Carnarvon Rose and Highclere Castle Rose. The last time Lady Carnarvon saw Queen Elizabeth II (who was friends with Earl Carnarvon's parents) was at the Chelsea Flower Show.

As a special course of the luncheon, guests dined on an appetizer of Chilled Parsnip and Apple Soup, which was Lady Carnarvon’s recipe from Seasons at Highclere. It was followed by an entrée of Chicken Crepes with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and dessert of Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. Each guest's place was set with a cookie customized with Countess Carnarvon's royal cypher.

A spirited auction conducted by Samantha Sisler from Heritage Auctions took place, but everyone had the opportunity to go home with a special memento of the day - a copy of Seasons at Highclere autographed by Lady Carnarvon herself.

Who: Anne Stodghill, Devon Jones, Tricia Conover, Linda Spina, Nikki Beneke, Sharla Bush, Connie Rhoades, Lisa Meyer, Millie Bradley, Natalie Taylor, Nancy Greenbach, Annika Cail, Barbara Averitt, Linda Burk, Barb Garcia, Linda Gilmore, Jane Hardenbergh, Venise Stuart, Merena Gault, Dorothea Meltzer, Terry Irby, Ann Marie Scichili, Sharon Adams, and many more.

Photo by Gittings

Sarah Jo Hardin, Therese Rourk, and Dyann Skelton surround The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Carnarvon

Texas Ballet Theater presents Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon

Texas Ballet Theater will present Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon, co-chaired by Cerón and Todd Fiscus.

Texas Ballet Theater dancers will strut and dance down the runway in fashions curated by presenting sponsor Neiman Marcus, after which guests will enjoy lunch and raffle prizes.

Photo by Atali Samuel Photography

Laura and Barbara Bush lend presidential panache to cherished Dallas luncheon

First ladies who lunch

What: Austin Street Center Humble Beginnings Luncheon

Where: Hilton Anatole Hotel

Photo by Atali Samuel Photography

Barbara Bush and Laura Bush

The 411: Former U.S. first lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara Bush — the two "quietest" members of the Bush family (neither having been a politician nor a TV talk show host) — stepped into the spotlight on a rare public outing together to help raise funds for a beloved Dallas organization.

Just how beloved? The 22nd annual Austin Street Center Humble Beginnings Luncheon drew a crowd of 897 attendees to the Hilton Anatole's Chantilly Ballroom on Friday, October 14.

Chaired by Frank Mihalopoulos and Jay McAuley and led by Austin Street Center CEO Daniel Roby, the luncheon and presentation celebrated the center's successes (including a large new facility) and underscored its mission to serve the homeless population of Dallas.

Popular party group Emerald City Band set a celebratory mood by entertaining guests as they arrived and sat down to an autumnal lunch of butternut squash soup and seared chicken breast salad.

Legendary local radio personality and Austin Street Center supporter Norm Hitzges presented Carolyn Lacy Miller the Norm Hitzges Distinguished Service Award for her many contributions to the organization, including the creation of its Sisterhood Program, which serves women who are homeless, have been victimized, traumatized, and suffer with mental illnesses and/or substance use illnesses.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson was presented the Public Service Award. In his acceptance remarks, he became emotional when he talked about how homelessness has affected his family personally.

The highlight of the day was a conversation with Laura and Barbara Bush, moderated by former ambassador, Hon. Jeanne Phillips.

The theme being "service to others," much of the talk focused on the Bushes' initiatives to reach people around the world — from the women of Afghanistan to AIDS victims in Africa. Barbara said a trip with her parents to AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa, in fact, helped change her career trajectory from architecture to global health.

There were light-hearted moments, too. Barbara shared funny stories about growing up, sharing a name with her grandmother - former first lady Barbara Bush. (One laugh-out-loud tale involved an email from a cousin about bikini waxing.) Laura revealed the best advice her mother-in-law gave her: Don't criticize your husband's speeches (advice she didn't always follow, for better or worse).

Laura, along with daughter Jenna and Jenna's daughters Mila and Poppy, she said, recently had been welcomed back to the White House by President Biden and Dr. Biden. During a later concert at the White House, singer Elton John recognized the former first lady for her work on behalf of AIDS causes around the world, she said.

From stage, it was announced that George W. and Laura Bush will receive the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's Global Leadership Award on December 1, World AIDS Day.

In total, the Austin Street Center raised nearly $800,000 at the Humble Beginnings Luncheon.

To end the inspiring afternoon, each attendee took home a luxurious Xela Aroma candle hand-poured by women of Austin Street Center's Sisterhood Program. Candle proceeds go directly to support the Sisterhood Program and are for sale at xelaaroma.com.

Who: Nearly 900 Austin Street Center staff, board members, patrons, and supporters including Abim Bola, Mary Danz, Bianca Davis, Priya Murphy, Britt Carman, Katelyn Muñoz, Carolyn Arnold, Gail Turner, R. Gerald Turner, and many, many more.

Photo by Kim Leeson for Texas Women’s Foundation

Empowering Dallas luncheon races to raise funds with track & field superstar Allyson Felix

On track for women

What: Texas Women’s Foundation Luncheon

Where: Hilton Anatole Hotel

The 411: The most decorated American Track & Field Olympian of all time, Allyson Felix, raced into Dallas to help raise funds in support of women and girls.

Appropriately themed "Transforming Texas," the Texas Women’s Foundation 37th annual luncheon on October 6 was co-chaired by business leaders Laura Nieto and Rachel Vinson, with Hilda Galvan serving as Texas Women’s Foundation board chair, and Miki Woodard, the organization's president and chief executive officer.

After a high-spirited performance by Garland High School's award-winning step team and opening remarks and tributes, the main event of the afternoon was an on-stage conversation between Felix and Cynt Marshall, president and CEO of The Dallas Mavericks and author of the just-released memoir You’ve Been Chosen: Thriving Through the Unexpected.

Felix and Marshall talked their love of track (both ran track), sports, role models, motherhood, and transformation. Little-known fact: Felix started out as a basketball player before she decided to try track. “This is my thing that makes me feel alive. I found out I like to win,” she told the audience.

Off the track, the winner of 27 global medals has made it her mission to help women. Felix parted ways with her shoe sponsor, Nike, when they asked her to take a 70 percent pay cut when she got pregnant — so she started her own line, called Saysh, shoes designed for and by women. She's also advocated for better childcare, which, she expressed, is an ongoing struggle for women.

In a unique twist, more than 200 students live-streamed the luncheon program next door. They were from Young Women’s Preparatory Network, Sunset P-TECH, Early College High School – Carrollton, and Woodrow Wilson High School.

To them, Felix said, “We think we have to have a massive platform, but you don’t. Start where you’re at. Know your worth and know your value.”

At the conclusion of the luncheon, the co-chairs donned their sneakers onstage and left the crowd with an empowering message: “We can’t continue to stay where we are … we have to sprint towards a better Texas for all. Let’s cross this finish line together."

Fundraising totals were still being tallied as of press time. Luncheon proceeds support the foundation's work to advance women’s economic security, leadership, education, health and safety in Texas through research, advocacy, programs, and grantmaking.

Who: Clarissa Luckey, Catherine Helm, Ashley Slaughter, Ashley Harris, Jennifer Stimpson, Tricia Watson, Cousia Towns, Arnetta Harris, Favor Lee, Mylinh Luong, Charmaine Tang, Tracey Doi, Gowri Sharma, Radhika Zaveri, Neena Newberry, Jessica Robinson, Jennifer Bartlett, Rachel Sargent, Melissa Lynch, Lily Brown, Shonn Brown, Ryan Brown, Samantha Ward, Mike Ireland, Bonnie Clinton, Shrini Arole, Tiffanie Rice, Rebecca Bennett, Trenessia Smith, and Sophia Swalbach.

Photo by Kim Leeson for Texas Women’s Foundation

Rachel Vinson, Allyson Felix, Laura Nieto

Photo by Tamytha Cameron

Tyra Banks talks books and blazing trails at 16th annual Chick Lit Luncheon

Chick Lit-ified

The smize queen herself, Tyra Banks, dropped by Community Partners of Dallas' 16th annual Chick Lit Luncheon on September 30 at the Hilton Anatole.

Luncheon co-chairs Errika Flood-Moultrie and Renita Joyce Smith, with honorary chair Cynt Marshall, were joined by more than 1,300 attendees at the annual event. Top sponsors got to gather in the nearby Wedgwood Ballroom during the pre-luncheon reception, which included a fun and festive Q&A with CPD president and CEO Paige McDaniel and Banks. Before leaving to get ready for the luncheon, Banks posed for a group photo with all attendees in the background.

Raffle tickets were available for a chance to win fabulous prizes, such as:

  • a Balenciaga Hourglass Top-Handle bag courtesy of Neiman Marcus
  • a $2,500 gift certificate for the Temple St. Clair collection at Eiseman Jewels NorthPark Center
  • a fabulous getaway for two to New York City with airfare and two-night accommodations
  • first-class roundtrip tickets to anywhere in the continental 48 US from Delta Air Lines
  • a monthly gift card to shop at Elizabeth W boutique
  • a hand-carved quartz onyx bowl by Pierre Verona

Attendees then took their seats in the ballroom as co-chairs Flood-Moultrie and Smith gave special thanks to underwriting chairs Bonner Allen, Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Kheana Pollard, and Kim Stephens-Olusanya; raffle chair Elizabeth Ward Creel; and the many sponsors and volunteers who helped make the day possible.

Reverend Elizabeth Moseley, associate pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church’s Uptown Campus, gave the invocation before the co-chairs returned to the podium for a bit of fun. They directed everyone to look under their chairs, where 50 guests found a special note that they would receive a four-pack of Tyra Bank’s Smize Cream. Next was another fun drawing where a lucky VIP sponsor was the winner of two roundtrip tickets on Delta Air Lines.

Attendees then enjoyed lunch of an herb-roasted chicken and pear salad with baby lettuce, tender oak leaves, endive, goat cheese and candied pecans with a burnt honey rosemary dressing followed by a lemon meringue tart for dessert.

A video salute to longtime CPD supporter Crystal Charity Ball’s 70 years of transforming the lives of Dallas County children was next, culminating with an announcement that the shoe department in CPD’s Rainbow Room would be named in their honor.

Another, more somber video followed, showing the heart-wrenching story of Isabel and Marisol, who were abused by their father. While the video detailed the nightmare lived by Isabel and Marisol, it also showed how Marisol went on to live out her dream as a CPS caseworker, who now keeps other kids safe.

The audience was reminded that Isabel, and Marisol are just some of the 15,000 children that Community Partners of Dallas will serve this year. CPD is there for all the child-victims of abuse in Dallas County and helps kids in all levels of care with CPS, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day by providing new clothing, shoes, hygiene products, lice treatment, and more.

Moderator Kellie Rasberry, co-host of The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show, sat down with Banks for a lively chat about the books Banks has authored, her businesses, her favorite books, being a mom, her modeling career, and her Smize Cream ice cream.

Famous for making up her own words, such as smizing (smiling with your eyes) and flawsome (embracing your flaws and knowing you are awesome regardless), Banks made up a new word about the day’s event: “Chick Lit-ified.” She said, “If you come to the Chick Lit Luncheon and you look good – you are Chick Lit-ified!”

As the event came to a close, attendees received a hot pink gift bag that included, among other items, a save-the-date postcard for next year’s Chick Lit Luncheon on April 21, 2023.

Supporters spotted in the crowd included Melissa Ellis, Erin Hendricks, Arden Ellis, Caroline Settle, Lindsay Jacaman, Bianca Davis, Robin Stubblefield, Sarah Thomas, Kyle Huckaby, Suzie Forsberg, Amanda Ward, Shelly Capriotti, Lara Tafel, Michelle Hartmann, Kala Garner, Chris McSwain, Imani Daniel, Mel Horne, Samantha Wortley, Kelli Little, Brandi Chalmers, Sarah Katherine Zavala, Shannon Henderson, Olivia Barder, Krystie Womack, Maggie Kipp, Kim Hext, Tamara Bickel, Cory Brown, Andrea Cheek, Lindsay Doramus, Erica Brown, Brooke Garner, Laura Price, and many more.

Since 1989, Community Partners of Dallas has ensured safety and restored dignity and hope to abused and neglected children by providing crucial resources and support to the caseworkers of Dallas County Child Protective Services.

Community Partners of Dallas provides items such as winter coats, diapers and formula, holiday gifts, school uniforms, personal hygiene products, food and more, to send the abused children in our community the message that someone does care.

Photo by Tamytha Cameron

Tyra Banks and guests

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Izaguirre

YMCA Key Leaders Luncheon

The YMCA Key Leaders Luncheon event is designed to connect key community and business leaders with the timely local issues that have regional impact, while also sharing a few accomplishments and priorities of the Dallas YMCA.

This year's luncheon will be a focused discussion on a topic that has become increasingly important due to the ongoing pandemic, the pressures of the social media age, and our increasingly competitive society: the mental wellbeing of our youth.

Moderated by WFAA's Cynthia Izaguirre, the panel will feature the unique perspectives of renowned psychiatrist Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Jessica Gomez, Licensed Psychologist and Executive Director of Momentous Institute, and Sonya Parker Goode, Director of Outreach and Education at Grant Halliburton Foundation.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Gala led by Dallas' most VIP couple scores top spot in this week's 5 hottest headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Dallas' most VIP couple leads all-star gala for Perot Museum 10th anniversary. The 10th anniversary of a Dallas landmark deserves a star-studded party and a few fireworks, too — and that's exactly what the Perot Museum of Nature and Science did to celebrate its milestone birthday. Dallas' most VIP couple led the festivities. Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki co-chaired the 10th anniversary Night at the Museum Gala on Saturday, November 12.

2. Dallas hires Martine Elyse Philippe as new director of arts and culture. The city of Dallas has a new Arts boss: Martine Elyse Philippe, who has worked in arts administration and the nonprofit world, has been appointed Director of the Office of Arts & Culture, a division of the City Manager's Office that fosters partnerships and support with arts and cultural organizations.

3. Record store in Dallas' Oak Cliff to spin off hip new restaurant-lounge. There's a hip new lounge bar restaurant opening in Dallas' Bishop Arts: Called Ladylove, it's going into the favorably located space previously occupied by Dallas Grilled Cheese Co., and is forecast to open in early 2023. Ladylove, whose subhead is "Lounge & Sound," is from David Grover and Kate Siamro, the same amazing team who own Spinster Records, the vinyl record store in Bishop Arts.

4. New Uptown Dallas movie theater sets opening date in time for the holidays. A little over a year after it was first announced, Violet Crown Cinema will open its first Dallas theater in West Village in early December. The theater is located in the former Magnolia Theater, which closed when the pandemic hit in March 2020 and never reopened.

5. Dallas university among best in U.S. for entrepreneurship programs, says Princeton Review. Dallas entrepreneurs, take note. The University of Texas at Dallas is near the top of its class among the country's best entrepreneurship programs. UTD's Naveen Jindal School of Management appears at No. 12 for best graduate entrepreneurship program and No. 25 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program on new lists from The Princeton Review.

Longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum closes, breastaurant on the way

Deep Ellum News

A longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum is closing: Maracas Cocina Mexicana, which has been in business at 2914 Main St. in one form or another since 1992, will close this weekend, to be replaced with another concept whose identity is still to be (officially) announced.

The restaurant is going out with a goodbye party on November 25, at 5 pm, with a DJ and its signature cheap drinks.

They've already started clearing out equipment and this will be their final weekend. A staffer speaking for the restaurant said that current owner, who asked not to be named but also owns a number of Mexican sandwich shops around DFW, is doing a rebranding.

"It's re-opening as a breastaurant, and the menu will be more focused on Mexican seafood," the staffer said.

The working title for the new concept is La Toxica Mariscos Y Micheladas.

Maracas' long history began in 1992 when it was was founded as Monica's Aca Y Alla, named for founder and veteran restaurateur Monica Greene, who opened it on what was then the eastern, rather sleepy edge of Deep Ellum. (Actually, it was originally Eduardo's Aca Y Alla, founded prior to Monica's transgender transformation in 1993.)

By 2012, Greene became restless after 20 years with what she perceived as sluggish development in Deep Ellum — a sad irony since the neighborhood started to blow up just a couple of years later.

She handed over the reins to managers Jose Sanchez and Angel Borjas, who kept much of what it had been — cheap and affordable Tex-Mex, a laid-back party atmosphere — and rebranded it as Maracas. The current owner came on board in 2014.

At 30 years, the restaurant is easily one of the longest running in Deep Ellum. When it opened, restaurants were somewhat of a minority in a neighborhood dominated by live music clubs. Now restaurants are the majority, and clubs have become the minority instead.

Some of Maracas' employees have worked there for decades, and are reportedly being given the option to work at the owner's other establishments.

The Friday night party will be $15 at the door, which gets you appetizers. Otherwise, patrons can order off the menu. House margaritas will be $4.50 and beers will be $5.

The restaurant will be be open as Maracas for the remainder of the weekend, including brunch: from 11 am-11 pm Saturday and 11 am-9 pm on Sunday.

"It's been a watering hole for many of us for so many years!" says Kendell Liptrap, a regular.

Where to eat on Christmas 2022 at Dallas restaurants

Holiday News

It seems impossible to fathom but we've reached that point where we are starting to think about Christmas, and restaurants are already cooking up options, whether you're looking to dine out or grab something to take home.

This list has a little bit of everything: places that are open on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, or places doing take-out only. As the holiday draws nearer, the list will surely grow, so check back for updates, which we'll make as they come in.

Here's our list of Christmas dining options:

Dive Coastal Cuisine. To-go items include mini potato latkes, bruschetta ciabatta crostinis, charcuterie, chicken, beef tenderloin, whipped or whole sweet potatoes, holiday everything salad, and whole key lime pie. Order by December 21. 214-891-1700. Closed Christmas Day.

Dolce Riviera. Special edition Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. $85. December 19–December 24. 469-458-6623. Closed Christmas Day.

Mercat Bistro. Christmas Day brunch with festive 3-course menu. $68. Make reservations to sit in the restaurant’s famous Polar Bear section. 10 am–3 pm. 214-953-0917.

Magnolias Sous Le Pont. Open Christmas Day morning with winter themed beverages including Toffee Crunch Affogato, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and frozen peppermint mocha. 469-249-9222.

Postino WineCafe. Family-size to-go menu feeds up to 15, including two starters, bruschetta platter, and salad. Add-ons are available for an additional cost. $285, Order by December 23. 972-210-2102. Closed Christmas Day.

Tacodeli. Chile En Nogada and Spiked Horchata, available for dine-in or to-go.Available through December 23. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. West Dallas – 214-760-1930; The Hill – 214-206-8980; Park & Preston (Plano) – 972-200-5101; Parkwood (Plano) – 214-997-6047.

TJ’s Seafood Market. Holiday to-go menu includes holiday platters, shrimp, smoked salmon, oysters, and gumbo. Order by December 23 for pickup December 24. Preston Royal – 214-691-2369; Oak Lawn – 214-219-3474.

SusieCakes. Christmas desserts include chocolate candy cane cake, holiday cupcakes, cupcakes, frosted sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, and decorating kits. Order by December 24. Preston Center – 214-983-2253; Hillside – 945-245-2253. Closed Christmas Day.

Ten50 BBQ. To-go smoked meats, sides, and desserts. Order by December 21. 1-855-QUE-1050 or email catering@ten50bbq.com. Closed Christmas Day.

City Hall Bistro. Restaurant at the Adolphus has a three-course menu featuring squash & kale salad, honey baked ham, cornbread dressing, candied yams, pumpkin pie, and Texas praline crunch brownie. Additional items are available for an extra cost including prime rib and salmon. 12–8 pm. $70. 214-651-3686.