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Nathan Shea, Bonnie Shea, Diana Crawford, Kenneth Nathan Shea, Bonnie Shea, Diana Crawford, Kenneth Fuquay, Georgia Lyons, and Marc Lyons

The 7th Annual Symphony of Chefs benefitting KidLinks was held on February 27, 2017 at the newly renovated and renamed Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station. This culinary evening was led by Honorary Chairs D’Andra Simmons-Lock and Jeremy Lock, Event Co-Chairs Georgia & Marc Lyons and Bonnie & Nathan Shea and Honorary Chef Chair, Salvatore Gisellu with Urban Family Restaurants. The unforgettable night began with an hors d’oeuvres reception featuring Rising Star Chefs: Jan Loov of Texas Spice, Benjamin Maulsby of Happiest Hour, and Juan Orocio of 4R Ranch Vineyards & Winery. DSQ Electric provided a live musical performance from the balcony in the Stationmasters Lounge lending a romantic flavor to the start of the night.

Guests then entered the ballroom for a seated 4-course dinner prepared tableside by Featured Chefs (see complete list below) and each course of the evening was paired with wine selected by winemaker Willem Johnson of 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery and a specialty cocktail using luxury cognac Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège crafted by Joshua Hendrix, Hennessy Brand Mixologist. Each of the 24 tables had a designated chef and each chef prepared their own unique menu tableside. Each of the 240 guests truly had a unique experience getting to see their chef in his or her element, preparing a specialty menu just a few feet from where they sat! DSQ Electric played throughout dinner providing guests with a wide array of musical offerings from classical to pop.  Good Morning Texas Co-Host Jane McGarry served as emcee for the evening and even got in on the action when she joined Tim Willett on stage for the culinary experiences live auction. Their job was made easier after guests viewed a beautiful video called “Griffin’s Song”, bringing KidLinks’ work to life through the eyes of one young patient.

The evening concluded with a decadent dessert reception by incredible Pastry Chefs Dunia Borga of LaDuni Baking Studio, Tina Miller of Proper Baking Company, and Tida Pichakron + Gianni Santin of Haute Sweets Patisserie. Attendees left with a custom cookbook featuring recipes from each of the participating chefs. Hamilton A Sneed and the team at HAS Events truly took this evening to new heights, making the 7th anniversary of Symphony of Chefs exciting for all in attendance. 

The event was made possible in part by Presenting Sponsors: Mason & Allen Custard, Emily & Bruce Robson and Kaari & James Wicklund.  Funds raised from the evening will support KidLinks efforts to provide healing experiences for the special needs of children through the therapeutic power of music - a unique mission that seeks to enrich the lives of children everywhere through songs of health, healing and happiness.

For decades, KidLinks has provided healing experiences for the special needs of children through performing arts and media.   The support of donors has enabled KidLinks’ musicians to perform in hospitals and special care centers across the country, has funded university-level Music Therapy training and has provided free/low cost treatment programs for children in need.  Through Therapeutic Music Entertainment and clinical Music Therapy programming, KidLinks is guaranteeing access to all children of any ability level.  Funds raised go directly to the creation of content for the Hugworks Children’s Network (HCN) – content that can improve the daily experiences of children when they need it most as well as provide educational resources for the adults who care for them. To learn more , visit KidLinks online.


CHEFS by course                                                


Jan Loov, Texas Spice

Benjamin Maulsby, Happiest Hour

Juan Orocio, 4R Ranch Vineyards & Winery



Kevin Ashade, Celebrity Chef

Andrew Bell, Saint Ann’s

Justin Box, The Cedars Social

Richard Chamberlain, Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House

Robert James Clifford, Nick & Sam’s

Tiffany Derry, The Cupboard by Tiffany Derry

Fitzgerald Dodd, Celebrity Chef

Francesco Farris, Zio Cecio

Salvatore Gisellu, Urban Family Restaurants

Gorji, Canary by Gorji

Joshua Troy Harmon, Kitchen LTO

Josh Healy, Filament

Chad Houser, Café Momentum

Nick Hurry, Proof+Pantry

Uno Immanivong, Chino Chinatown

John Kleifgen, Nick & Sam’s Park Cities

Dan Landsberg, Dragonfly

Juan Orocio, 4R Ranch Vineyards & Winery

Ken Patrick, Celebrity Chef

Jared Robinette, Le Bilboquet

Jeramie Robison, Uchi Dallas

Steven Torbron, Asador

Jacob Williamson, Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck

Yutaka Yamato, Yutaka Sushi Bistro



Duni Borga, LaDuni Latin Cafe

Tina Miller, Proper Baking Company

Tida Pichakron + Gianni Santin, Haute Sweets Patisserie

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The 2nd Annual “It’s A Jungle Out There” benefit kicked off with the Warriors Games, a NEW family-friendly event which was held on the grounds of the Embassy Suites Love Field Hotel.  Despite a soggy start to the day, participates were fired up to compete and attendees were able to watch teams comprised of former players from Survivor, The Amazing Race and Big Brother and young adults from Cheer 4 Your Life’s teen Warrior program compete in challenges similar to those seen on the hit CBS show, Survivor. The teams were hit with twists and turns as the games progressed. In true Survivor tradition, the final challenge to determine who would be crowned the Sole Survivor was a fire-making challenge. Congrats to Baylor Wilson from Survivor, Season 29 for using a flint and creating a fire big enough to burn through the twine to raise her flag, making her victorious!!

Proceeds from this event raised funds for Cheer 4 Your Life, a non profit organization 501(C)3 that helps empower youth by providing supportive funding as needed for individual participation in various clubs and school programs including but not limited to athletic programs, performance based programs and service projects. “The most touching part of the Cheer 4 Your Life journey (for me) so far has been the Warriors project, which is a leadership program for teens encompassing community outreach and personal growth while raising money through healthy competition in monthly challenges,” said Missy Payne. “To see these kids meet today – the Teen Warriors who have raised money all year to help teens they didn’t even know pursue their dreams – it’s just so rewarding!”

That evening, Event Co-Chairs Leslie Madden and Laura Powell gathered with supporters at the Frontiers of Flight Museum for an adult only benefit, which included a concert, dinner, silent and live auction. Guests began the evening with dinner and live entertainment from talented teens from area Performing Arts High Schools, Competitive Club Cheerleading and Dance programs, and Acrobatic troupes illustrating what Cheer 4 Your Life is all about – helping teens pursue their passions and talents. The evening culminated with a rousing performance from rising Country music star, Hudson Moore. 

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This June, cousins Gilbert Cuellar, Jr., John Cuellar and Cory Cuellar will extend the boundaries of traditional Tex-Mex and incorporate true Texas flavors with their newest concept, Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch. When asked to describe the concept, the term “Ranch-Mex” is what the Cuellars’ are using - which they define as Texas ranch casual cuisine served in a Hill Country atmosphere. This blend of Texas ranch food and Tex-Mex will allow guests to pair cheese enchiladas with a side of mashed potatoes and cream gravy, or delve into chicken fried steak covered in chile con queso, or create fajitas using fresh vegetables and their choice of sauces.


The Cuellar family is primarily responsible for the popularity of Tex-Mex in America. The family created the El Chico’s brand in the 1940’s and in 1981, Gilbert Cuellar Jr. introduced fajitas to the Dallas market, which soon became a favorite of Ronald Reagan and are now a Tex-Mex staple across the country. In 2013 cousins John Cuellar and Gilbert Cuellar, Jr. opened the award-winning vintage Tex-Mex restaurant, El Corazon de Tejas, in the Bishop Arts district of Oak Cliff and the pair are excited to take the best of what they have created there, infuse the flavors of traditional Texas ranch fare and bring a twist to the traditional fare they helped create.


“Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch is an opportunity to provide diners with the most popular things that I grew up enjoying as a child. Growing up on our family’s ranch in Glen Rose, Texas, my father grilled steaks and chicken and my Mother made chicken fried steak and fried chicken so what Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch does is bring that all together,” says Gilbert Cuellar Jr. “I am not looking to innovate, but rather reflect back on my family’s history with this concept and give guests the opportunity to dine on what my family considers traditional Texas Ranch-Mex cuisine.”


Cuellar plans to delight cocktail lovers with seasonal margaritas, which they serve at  El Corazon de Tejas, using fresh fruits gathered at a local Farmers Market located directly behind the restaurant. Staples like strawberry and mango will be available along with cantaloupe, blackberry or peach – depending on what fruits are in season. Connoisseurs can create their own unique drink by choosing from a list of specialty tequilas and orange liqueurs.


The 6,500 square foot venue is decorated in Hill Country ranch house style with lots of wood features a spacious dining room that will seat 175, a dedicated bar area and a private dining room for up to 25 complete with A/V and a private patio. A 3,000 square foot outdoor patio will open later in the Fall that can hold up to 100 additional guests and feature Mariachi and Texas Country live music.


Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch is located at 3310 North Central Expressway (at Parker) in Plano, Texas, 75074, 972-905-5638. is coming soon. 

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Local nonprofit Dallas Challenge hosted the 7th Annual ART FROM THE HEART Celebrity Art Auction & Benefit, a fundraising event featuring the artwork of many local and national celebrities, select professional artists and designers on Friday, April 29, 2016 at Lofty Spaces.  Co-chairs for this year’s event were Carmen Surgent and Lindsay Lee McCain. Attendees had the chance to mix and mingle with many of the celebrities, artists and designers who donated art pieces available for auction. 1920’s attire had been requested and guests took delight in dressing in their Gatsby best. Among those in attendance were Steve Kemble, Tiffany and Aaron Hendra, Jane McGarry, Phyllis and C.J. Comu, Ann and Donald Short, LeeAnne Locken and Larry g(EE). One of the evening’s highlights was a live performance piece created on site by Dallas-based Leighton Autrey. Autrey is best known for his Biblical artwork where he turns scriptures from the Holy Bible into modern contemporary works of art. He has shown all over the world including events such as Super Bowl XLV (45) and 2012 London Olympics.  Leighton has done and continues to do many personal commission pieces for high profile clients such as professional athletes, entertainers and for companies like Red Bull.

“Dallas Challenge provides a therapeutic art class to help many at risk youth from Dallas. To hear the stories of the young lives that have been changed for the better is inspiring! I am continuously amazed by the success stories!” says event co-chair Lindsay Lee McCain. “I could not be more excited about how much this year’s Art From The Heart benefit raised,” says event co-chair Carmen Surgent, “With the caliber of artists we had participating this year, guests and collectors were delighted with the variety and quality of artwork up for auction! We believe this to be our most successful event yet!”

Since 1984, Dallas Challenge has been a leading provider of programs to help youth stay in school, off drugs and alcohol and out of the criminal justice system. These programs and services are supported by the Annual ART FROM THE HEART Celebrity Art Auction & Benefit.  This signature fundraising event featured an array of exciting highlights that included artwork from local and national celebrities, personalities and athletes. Artwork from select professional and young artists (most from Dallas Challenge youth programs) were also up for auction. Wearable art in the form of luxury, designer and fashion items were a unique and interesting twist to the auction line-up. For additional information, please visit

Photos c/o Thomas Garza and Bob Manzano

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On March 29, the Ally’s Wish Boots and Blessings Gala host committee and local designer Esé Azénabor welcomed more than 125 guests to the gorgeous home of honorary chair Tricia Sims for an evening of fashion and philanthropy.  “A Venetian Dream,” was the collaboration of Ally’s Wish and local designer, Esé Azénabor that commenced the countdown to the Flower Mound-based organization’s second annual gala to be held at Gilley’s Dallas on April 30, 2016.  After enjoying sweet treats by The Jenny Layne Bakery and sips courtesy of Sweet Beat Vodka and Community Beer, the glamorous Gina Ginsburg, Ken Weber, Chuck Steelman, Melissa Rountree, Dawn Mellon, and Allison Mitchell took their seats. All eyes turned to Mistress of Ceremonies, Real Housewives of Dallas star LeeAnne Locken and gala chair Laura Downing who thanked sponsors before introducing Ally’s Wish president, Missy Phipps.

Inspired by the loss of their dear friend, Allyson Hendrickson, to ovarian cancer, Missy Phipps, Holly Reed, Melissa Cary and Heather Bryan founded Ally’s Wish to grant a last wish to young mothers battling terminal illnesses. In just two years, the women have raised more than $150,000 and granted wishes like helicopter rides over the Grand Canyon and adventures swimming with dolphins to sixteen mothers. “When dreaming up Ally's Wish, I asked myself, what would want if I were terminally ill? And the answer was obvious; memories and time with my children,” Phipps said. “Getting to know these strong moms is rewarding and bitter sweet.  We get to be in their lives long enough to grant their wish, and it's a precious time that we don't take for granted.”

After Phipps’ heartfelt remarks, Locken announced the organization was only $40,000 away from reaching their gala sponsorship goal of granting eight more wishes. After dozens more raffle tickets sold out in minutes, the house lights were dimmed and the models who were primed by Blushington and The Hair Bar prepared to strut the runway. Esé Azénabor recently showcased her 2016 spring collection, Garden of Eden, at New York Fashion Week, but guests were in for a special treat as they got an exclusive preview of the Fall 2016 looks from her Venetian Dream collection. The models were accessorized in bags by D'Monti and jewelry by Couture Rocks. Cheers ensued as the runway host, Carmen Surgent, sported an incredible gown that would turn heads at Chrystal Charity Ball and the moment was captured on video by GoMan Productions.

“I love the way fashion empowers me and I am thrilled to be able to showcase my current collection in Dallas to inspire other women,” says Esé Azénabor.  It was clear by the crowd’s reaction to the collection, that they were dazzled by the looks walking the runway. This new Fall/Winter 2016 collection is 100% hand sewn with custom fabrics created specifically for this collection. The inspiration originated from the desire to incorporate a Venetian flair into her own home. Throughout her research on Venetian inspired homes, she became fascinated with the antic plasterwork, dramatic moldings and the unique architecture. She successfully emulated those elements in her collection through intricate beading and embroidery. Core components of her collection include materials such as silk crepe, silk mesh and silk tulle. Known for her detailed beading and embroidery work, in this collection the designer utilized a combination of Japanese glass beads, sequins and Swarovski crystals.  Her last collection inspired by the Garden of Eden was very colorful whereas the Venetian Dream Collection consists of golds/blacks, white/blacks and white/gold. For more information, visit

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Larry North gives the thumbs up of approval to the renovations at Solana

Larry North of Larry North Fitness held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and public celebration on Wednesday, February 10 to officially debut the newly refurbished Solana Club after a $1.8 million dollar renovation. Westlake Mayor, Laura Wheat, did the honor of cutting the ribbon to officially launch the new club while other city officials looked on and cheered in support. Larry North presented Mayor Wheat with an honorary annual membership to the club and some personal training sessions. Solana, which means “sunny place” in Spanish, is a 233-acre master planned office park campus located in the Texas communities of Westlake and Southlake.  In keeping with that “sunny” theme, the 38,000 square foot health club now offers the very best in full-service health and wellness amenities and provides members with the latest in high-tech equipment in a new modern and energized atmosphere. 

“After 35 years in the business, I believe that the Solana Club is the crown jewel of my career. From the size of the facility, the amenities we are offering, location, members and, of course, my staff, the Solana Club marks my greatest achievement since building my first club in 1989,” says Larry North, founder of Larry North Fitness.

Although the Solana Club opened in 1991, Larry North Fitness took over the location in 2013. In August 2014 Equity Office Properties, an affiliate of the Blackstone Group L.P., purchased the Solana property. To date, Equity Office Properties has invested more than $65 million in property-wide renovations. In the fall of 2015, Equity Office Properties and Larry North Fitness partnered to update the club and bring the Westlake and Southlake community a facility of unparalleled excellence. Larry North Fitness at Solana is located at 2902 Sams School Rd., Westlake, TX 76262. Learn more at

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Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities Host Free Dental Clinic at Bush Elementary

On Saturday, September 26, Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities partnered with DECA Dental to host a dental screening for over three hundred 3rd – 5th grade students at George H.W. Bush Elementary School in Addison. The school gym was converted into a “dental lab” for students where they were screened by dentists. Ongoing dental treatments will be available at three DECA Dental locations over the next six months, free of charge.

“Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Teaching children about brushing and flossing today may help them avoid complicated dental procedures tomorrow.” said Emmitt Smith. “We are thrilled to be working with DECA Dental to provide hundreds of children with a winning smile and the gift of good dental health as they start a new school year.”

Parents were able to visit with DECA Dental staff about their children oral health while the children played games, had their faces painted out in the courtyard and enjoyed fresh fruit and food provided by Albertson’s. Inside, the DECA Dental staff put on performances for the kids to illustrate the importance of brushing and flossing and to answer questions from the kids themselves about how to best care for their teeth.

“DECA Dental is a local dental company that believes in giving back to the surrounding communities, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We truly believe that children deserve the opportunity to achieve their own goals in life. DECA wants to give that child the first chance to have the beautiful smile they deserve. This is a golden step in achieving the self confidence the child needs to achieve their goals and be successful in school and life,” Dr. Sulman Ahmed, D.M.D. CEO/Founder.

About Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities:

Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities (PESC) is a 501(c)(3) public charity that creates and funds unique educational experiences and enrichment opportunities for underserved children. Focusing primarily in North Texas, PESC’s TEAM 22 program partners with established organizations to provide a multi-year curriculum for underserved students, accessing and funding opportunities such as a summer camp, tutoring and leadership training.  In addition, PESC funds existing children’s programs in North Texas through its annual grant application process. Learn more at