Food News

Chef Erling Jensen will be spearheading the annual March of Dimes Signature Chef's Gala at The Peabody hotel December 12th. Jensen and chefs from the Grove Grill, La Tourelle, Café 1912, Felicia Suzanne's, Mélange, and many others will be on hand to discuss their signature dishes. Proceeds will go to the West Tennessee chapter of the March of Dimes, which raises awareness about birth defects.

"Erling Jensen is the featured chef because he's so active in organizing the event," says Cindy Conner, a volunteer for the Chef's Gala.

There will be an auction, music from the Gamble Brothers, and comedy from Lenny Clarke.

The March of Dimes hosts similar dinners in other cities, but this one, says Conner, is one of the organization's premier fund-rasing events nationally. "It usually sells out. It was one of the top 10 last year."

The cocktail hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the Peabody's mezzanine level where guests can peruse auction items. Tickets cost $125 per person. Call 385-8580 for reservations.

As part of its continuing wine-dinner series, Grill 83 in the Madison Hotel presents a four-course prix fixe menu on the second Tuesday of every month.

"We have a featured wine every month, but December is special," says Erica Fleming, catering sales manager. "The price is $65, so it's a little more expensive. We serve our bone-in tenderloin as the entrée. Paradise Ridge wines will be featured, and the winemaker will be there."

For the December 14th dinner, chef Antony Field will also prepare baked oysters Arcadian. The entrée will be accompanied by grilled vegetable risotto and brandy mushroom sauce followed by a white chocolate mousse with mixed berries for dessert.

The dinner begins at 7 p.m. in the Iris Ballroom. For reservations, call 333-1209.

The Baking Boutique, 5846 Stage Road, puts the icing on the cake. This Bartlett business specializes in candy making, cake baking, and decorating supplies, but it also offers classes.

One of the first classes, perfect for the holiday season, is "Build Your Own Gingerbread House." The two-hour class begins at noon on December 12th and costs $10, plus $12 for supplies.

"We will supply extra candy, because if the students are like us, they like to eat candy as they go," says owner Shannon Hamlin, who teaches the increasingly popular skill of cake decorating.

"Going into the early '90s, people ran out and bought cakes and let somebody else do the work. Now they're stopping and taking time to learn to decorate and coming up with some of the most beautiful cakes I've ever seen. Some do it for personal satisfaction, and some go into business for themselves," she says.

She and her husband, Scott, opened the store November 22nd, though he still maintains a full-time career with the Navy as a human-resource officer.

"He handles all the business, and I'm in charge of everything creative," says Shannon, who has been decorating cakes since age 19.

The Hamlins have also created a signature series of chocolates to buy in the store or to learn to make at home.

"People can learn to make chocolate-covered cherries, peanut butter cups, or any kind of candy you can buy in the store," Shannon says.

For more information, call 372-8779.

Another recently opened business in Bartlett, A&R Bar-B-Que, will celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony December 17th at 1 p.m. The new location is in the Stage Coach Collection, 7174 Highway 64.

It's time for the Holiday Tasting and Gift Fair at Wild Oats Marketplace December 11th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This annual open house lets the national grocer showcase its whole-food products while customers get ideas for holiday menus and entertaining. •

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