My Friday lunch at Galatoire’s last July was one of the most unique dining experiences of my fairly storied life. Between the Texan socialite’s birthday featuring boas, tiaras and a brass band, the deposed Governor who’d just been released from a over-10 year sentence and was showing off his 50 years younger bride, and the coffee service where the tuxedoed waiter sets the table on fire – it was like a diamond encrusted 3 ring circus. So, I was delighted to attend the 6th Annual Christmas Auction at Galatoire’s Monday Night.
Established in 1905, the line for Galatoire’s Friday lunch is legendary. The Fridays before Christmas and Mardi Gras are so coveted that people used to sleep in lawn chairs on the sidewalk to get a table. Since Katrina, the tables for those Fridays have been auctioned off at a minimum of $100 per seat, raising more than $630,000 for local charities since 2006.
This year’s recipients of the proceeds of the auction are Crimestoppers and Raintree Children and Family Services. I’m as excited to reduce crime in the city as the next citizen and, as readers of this blog know, I have a sweet spot for Raintree. Raintree offers a variety of services but specializes in foster care services and has a wonderful group home providing a haven for a dozen teenage girls who, after suffering separation from their family of origin, were unable to find a home in foster care. As we all spend the holidays with our families, my heart goes out to children who, after being abandoned or ripped from their homes for their own welfare, find no relief in foster families. What a lot to overcome everyday.
Mr. Ashton Avegno, the president of Raintree’s Board of Directors gave a great speech and truly puts his money where his mouth is, having adopted 7 special needs children along with his wife of 40 years, Royanne. Then, wonder woman Lana Duke shared a bit of her story. An amazing marketer, she has accumulated several Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses and is the co-owner of the Palace Truck Stop and Casino in NOLA. But, she started life as a foster child. I admire her greatly for all she has built for herself, for her many contributions to the community and for the stamina it takes to come from so little and become so much for so many.
The auction was like the ones my parents took me to as a child but with fancy hors d’oeuvres and plenty of champagne and cocktails. Some kind soul spent $800 for a 2-top table, a 4-top went for $1600, a 6-top for $2600, but the real cash flew for the 8 and 12 seat tables. I heard numbers like $5000! That’s before they spend one penny on the delicious food, beverage and service they will enjoy that Friday night before Christmas.
There were also some wonderful pieces generously donated by local artists, including one of my favorite’s, Louis Sahuc. All the photos on the Galatoire’s website were taken by Louis and are available for viewing (and sale) in his Reflections of Gal’s collection. I was privileged to spend much of my evening with him and his friends, including charmer Christine Breaux of Wedding Style Magazine, best known for her spectacular parties.
The tables have been auctioned and all those who won bids promise to have a legendary night, but you can still help the children of Raintree to have a wonderful Christmas. Make your tax deductible donation to this wonderful 85 year old institution here.