Hotel Online  Special Report

 Celebrity Chefs Ham it Up at The Mansion
on Turtle Creek's Annual BBQ


DALLAS, July 12, 2004 - They came for the food and stayed for the music.  Or vice versa.  Regardless of what brought them, what kept nearly 600 visitors at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, A Rosewood Hotel, was the combination of delicious eats, musical beats and an overdose of fun -- and it raised money for a good cause to boot.  Proceeds from the event benefit TACA, an umbrella organization that provides funding for performing arts in North Texas.

"It just keeps getting more fun every year," said Chef Dean Fearing, the high profile mastermind behind the "Gourmet Magazine & Dean Fearing's Annual Summer Barbecue Fest '04, presented by Lexus and The Mansion on Turtle Creek" and which unfolded on the Mansion's circular drive July 10.

"By bringing in new tastes and flavors of both food and musicians, we keep making it bigger and better each time."

The fund-raising event, which began four years ago as little more than a jam session with food, has now become a national weekend-long celebration of three of Fearing's favorite things: barbecue, music and friendship.  The Barbwires, Fearing's band of musical chefs, took the stage shortly after filling guests' plates.  The event's tagline, "Where the music cooks and the food rocks," once again lived up to its promise, keeping guests satisfied with both.

This year's lineup of culinary virtuosos, 

Dean Fearing Chef of The Mansion
on Turtle Creek
led by Fearing on guitar and lead vocals, featured Robert Del Grande of Cafe Annie in Houston on guitar and vocals; Tim Keating of Quattro in Houston on vocals; and Norman Van Aken of Norman's in Miami on harmonica.  An all-star roster of non-cooking guests bolstered the band's sound as well.  Guest musicians Jimmy Messina and his former Poco bandmate Richie Furay added some well-known songs to the mix, and harmonica master Mickey Raphael, Tony Brown and local sax king Johnny Reno rounded out the powerful lineup.

"Richie has done this a couple of times. 

He called me and said I really needed to do it," Messina said.  "I have loved every moment of it!  You've got incredible chefs and incredible musicians together in a gorgeous setting.  I'm looking forward to doing this again."

Richard Baker, managing director of The Mansion on Turtle Creek, said the summer event has taken on a life of its own.  Gourmet Magazine partnered with The Mansion to present the Barbecue Fest, giving it national exposure and bringing in foodies from all across the country.  Lexus and American Airlines also signed on as sponsors.

"By bringing Gourmet Magazine on board, we've been able to turn this into a full weekend of events," Baker said.  "This really brings a whole new meaning to the term, 'hot ticket'!  This group of talented chefs, musicians and celebrities all took time out of their schedules to do this event and help raise money for the arts."

Baker said that several national and local networks filmed on location at The Mansion over the three days, including Al Roker's "Roker on the Road" program for the Food Network.  The filming began Friday morning, when "The Today Show's" Al Roker broadcast his weather segments live from the grounds of The Mansion.  Roker and "The Today Show" travel editor Peter Greenberg returned this year to man the live auction, which netted $75,700.

"This exceeds my wildest dreams," Baker said.  "It's become such a great event, and it's a lot of fun for everyone, including the staff."

Becky Young, executive director of TACA, said the boost to the organization is priceless.

"We raise and grant money to different groups, so to be able to be the beneficiary of something like this is such a huge gift," she noted.  "And because of this, we've received national exposure, so we've let a lot of new people find out who we are and what we do.  You can't even put a dollar amount on that."

For the second year, Al Roker and Peter Greenberg worked their comedic magic onstage, joined by Dallas sports broadcast icon Scott Murray.  Roker said there was never any question in his mind that he would return for the food fest.

"Dean is really what brought me back," he said.  "Once you've done this, you want to do it again.  It's the combination of good music, great food and a lot of fun -- all for charity."

Not everyone was a veteran of the festival; Laurent Gras of San Francisco's Fifth Floor restaurant and celebrity chef Bobby Flay were among those making their maiden voyage to Fearing's party.  It all added up to the perfect showcase of rising talent and culinary legends.

"It was easy to say 'yes' to something like this," Gras said.  "I'm excited just to be here.  To be a part of a great event like this -- it's something you don't want to miss."

Flay made time for the weekend, despite an enormously packed schedule, and conducted cooking demonstrations during the day on Saturday.

"Dean has been one of my mentors for a long time, so to be asked to come to something like this is exciting for me," Flay said.  "I had a pretty easy gig; I did some cooking demonstrations and now I get to walk around, eat a lot of food and listen to the music."

There was plenty of great food to be had; in addition to the chefs who cooked both onstage and off, guest chefs showcasing their edible masterpieces were Gras, Robert McGrath of Roaring Fork (Scottsdale, Austin); Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto (New York), Aaron Sancez of Palador (New York); Scott Conant of L'Impero (New York) and Ken Callaghan of Blue Smoke (New York).  Participating Dallas chefs were Amador Mora, Michael Morabito and James Wagner from The Mansion on Turtle Creek and Cory Groom of Cafe Mansion at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and Jamie Samford and Matthew Dunn of Central Market.

The weekend officially began Friday night with a VIP reception at Dallas' Nasher Sculpture Center, and wrapped up with a Sunday brunch at The Mansion on Turtle Creek.  For both newcomers and familiar faces, the weekend proved to be the best of Fearing's annual festivals to date, and returning chef and harmonica player Norman Van Aken said he isn't surprised to see it growing every year.

"There's a happy vibe you get when you're in a real place, not just some faceless hotel," Van Aken said.  "That's what this is.  It's real, it's friendly and it's just a whole lot of fun.

"He better invite me back next year."

The Mansion on Turtle Creek
Also See: Andres Araya Named Resort Manager of Rosewood's Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos / January 2004
David Kurland Named Managing Director and Deborah Yager Fleming the Director of Sales and Marketing for Rosewood's Acqualina on Sunny Isles Beach, Florida / May 2004

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