September 2008 Archives

The Culinary Community Pulls Together to Benefit the Koonce Family

Gracie Cavnar
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The community spirit shone brightly through the last ten days as Houstonians pulled together to deal with the aftermath of Ike. Although the disaster has been widespread, few have suffered like James Koonce and his daughter Katherine who were both badly burned in the fire that destroyed Brennan's restaurant. James is best known to patrons as "The Wine Guy" and his four-year-old daughter, Katherine are both in specialty burn units in San Antonio and remain in critical condition. Through this tragedy, the extended Brennan's family has gathered round to help.

The moment he regained power and reopened Catalan, partner & chef (former Brennan's sous chef and Wine Guy himself), Chris Shepherd designed a special menu that pays homage to Brennan's cuisine. Each order generates $10 for the Koonce Family Relief Fund. The menu will continue indefinitely.

This week Jason Gould follows suit at Gravitas with a wine tasting on Monday afternoon from 1:20 to 4:00 September 21 with all funds collected going to the relief fund. For more details, call David Maib at 713-962-9085 or email

On Wednesday, September 24 at the complimentary fete Singapore Slings and Asian Street Fair hosted by Gigi's Asian Bistro and Dumpling Bar for Recipe for Success from 6:30-8:30 we will collect donations for the Koonce Family Fund. RSVP to

On Sunday, September 28, Del Frisco's is hosting a wine tasting fundraiser from 6-9. Dozens of premium vintners are participating in this event which costs $50 per person with all proceeds going to the Koonce Family Fund.

Other chefs, including Monica Pope, are planning events and we will keep you posted as they unfold.

For those who want to help but unable to attend an event, please go to for a list of bank branches. You can make a donation at any of the branches by simply giving the account name: Fund for Denise Koonce in Trust for James and Katharine Koonce.

Don't Be Fooled by the Corn Producers Association's New Ad Campaign

Gracie Cavnar
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I couldn't believe my eyes and ears the other night as I was monitoring coverage of Hurricane Ike on CNN. The scene: young couple in the park on a blanket under a big tree--the quintessential idyllic picnic setting. She offers him a Popsicle, which he initially refuses because "It's filled with corn syrup sweeteners." She smiles lovingly at his silly ideas and says "But why is that bad? Corn is natural and corn syrup is no different that sugar--it's fine in reasonable amounts." After which he sees the error of his foolishly misinformed ways and accepts the yummy treat. A voice-over says "know the facts."

Good idea. What it doesn't say is that often times high fructose corn syrup is the dominant ingredient in soft drinks and snack food. I don't think anyone would consider eating 16 teaspoons of sugar at a sitting, while they think nothing of downing several sodas a day, each one with the corn syrup equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar. But the FACT is that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is much worse than sugar in the way it interacts with our body chemistry.

Our bodies function through a series of chemical interactions that act as traffic signals and everything we ingest has an effect. When operating properly, our systems generate one chemical to signal our brain that we are hungry--ghrelin, and another to signal that we are full --leptin. HFCS plays havoc with these two important message systems. First, it inhibits the secretion of leptin, so your brain never gets a full message. To make matters worse, it never shuts off ghrelin, so even with a full tummy, your brain keeps getting a hungry message.

Knowing the facts is an excellent idea.

Gigi's throws a party for the Blue Plate Special Cafe's event Chairs, Committee and Sponsors

Gracie Cavnar
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RSVP for party on September 24
to Nancy Heitshusen at

Turn Up the Heat Raffle offers 5 Great Prizes

Gracie Cavnar
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To buy your tickets

Don't wait!