Recently in Dinner Conversations Category

Kicking off 2019 with VegOut!

Recipe for Success
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Gracie and Maggie Vegout 2019.jpgMaggie Flecknoe and CW39 showed up at RecipeHouse to get some delicious VegOut! recipe inspiration from Chef Greg Martin of Bistro Menil. From a Super Veggie Bowl to Braised Chinese Cabbage and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Balsamic Vinegar, Greg helped us check off 13 Veg right off the bat. Maggie started a CW39 team so you can join her in the fun as part of your new years resolution to get healthy, but we warn you--she's pretty competitive. Jump in the fun of #VegOut2019 at and see the entire segment with Maggie HERE.

Delivering Hope to Veterans

Recipe for Success
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DeliveringHope2.jpegWith Welcome Home Baskets brimming with fresh food and kitchen supplies, the Recipe for Success Team hit the road today at noon to Deliver Hope to six veterans and their families who were particularly hard-hit by Hurricane Harvey

In 2017, along with so many Houstonians, these Veterans battled the raging floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey and so many who lost their homes are still in the arduous process of rebuilding their lives. The Foundation was particularly concerned with the interruption of home cooked family meals.

"Our kitchens are the hearts of our homes-where our families and friends share meals and stories, and where life is anchored and celebrated. We wanted to help restore our neighbor's kitchens, filling them with healthy food and the means to cook and serve it," says Recipe for Success Founder, Gracie Cavnar. "Now six families can enjoy these moments again and begin building new memories."

Recipe for Success put out a call for help throughout its network of chefs and supporters and many responded. The first Delivering Hope Welcome Home Baskets are brimming with just-harvested produce from Hope Farms and supplies donated by Chef Thomas Keller and AllClad, along with personalized favorite cookbooks presented by global members of the International Women's Forum and pantry staples donated by Executive Women International.

Beginning today, the families, which include grandparents and grandchildren, a husband-and-wife-veteran duo, and a single father and his son, will receive regular deliveries of fresh produce from Hope Farms for a year, so now these Houstonians who have given so much can focus on cooking, celebrating life and making memories in their new homes.

Recipe for Success Foundation worked with Combined Arms to circulate an application for assistance for Harvey-impacted Veteran families with children under twelve in the home. Here is what one veteran said about his life after Harvey:

"The hurricane forced me to evaluate life in a number of ways, what is and is not important, priorities, belongings and lifestyle. I have since been eating better and cooking more at home for my son and I. I have very little in decorations, as it feels less like a home and more like a temporary situation since we had to leave. I believe having my own new items will aide that sense of "home." I have been blessed to receive used dishes and pans from others, and as I can I buy replacement items, so this would be a great blessing to replace those with something of my own. I know there are a number of people who had it worse than me and I am blessed that I have a place, I can cook, and have managed to get by. So I would request that if I am considered and it came down to me and another family, they be considered first. I am grateful for this opportunity."

Dress For Dinner is a Wrap

James Brock
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D4D for blog.jpgWhat an evening it was. Guests assembled at Neiman Marcus on February 28 to meet Lela Rose, enjoy cocktails and a fashion show, and support our programs. Our VIPs ended the evening in Mariposa restaurant, where they dined on tomato tartare, sous-vide halibut, and panna cotta, a three-course meal created by A Fare Extraordinaire's executive chef, Ryan Bouillet.

candids-43.jpgLela Rose loves food and entertaining, so she was an ideal partner for Dress For Dinner. Her enthusiasm was evident throughout the evening, and she spent a lot of time conversing with our guests, whose generous support allowed us to raise more than $30,000, all of which will go toward funding our missions. Houston Chronicle Fashion Editor, Joy Sewing began the show with an interview of Rose and then we were treated to a look at her spring collection, which met with enthusiastic applause.

candids-27.jpgCo-chairs Ally Shell-van Koolwijk and Jeff Shell put on a great show, and spoke with pasion about the importance of teaching children how to eat well. Some of our notable guests included Karen Lerner, original founder of A Fare Extraordinaire, and the catering firm's current owner, Rachael Volz and her husband, Jason; Diane Lokey Farb; Dr. Wissam Khan and Fatema Khan (in photo); Dr. Sippi Khurana and Ajay Khurana; Curry Glassell and her son, Nathan Glassell; Kimberly Miller and Carolyn Tanner; Tammie and Andy Johnson; BJ and Bob Shell; Stacey and Al Lindseth; Sheree and Norman Frede; Jennifer Swallen and Melissa Sugulas; Roz Pactor; and Marsha Montemayor.

IMG_0525.jpegWe were blown away by Neimans' support--even transforming a major window in honor of Hope Farms.

Read some of our fabulous media coverage in PaperCity, The Houston Chronicle and My Red Glasses. Click here for our own post event release, and make plans to Dress For DInner in 2019!

Beauty from Within

Recipe for Success
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Beauty from within.jpgExcited to partner with instaglamhouston in thier Instagram #VegOut2018 CampaignBecause beauty really starts from within, they have teamed up with us to help spread the word of the importance of nutrition and to let you all see just how they are doing it here in Houston. Follow them on stagram to keep up:

Eggplant Street Tacos

Justin Kouri
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Eggplant Taco_4x5.jpgWe love to honor our Mexican roots and culture with tacos made of every imaginable ingredient.

Have you tried using eggplant? This kid-friendly recipe cooks in the oven giving you time to prep the other fixings. It's part off our Eat the Rainbow curriculum from Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ culinary classroom lesson plans. If a 4th grader can do it, we are confident that you can too!

Get the recipe from our or HERE.

"Pie", a poem by Rich Levy

Recipe for Success
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Dinner Convo2 post #1.jpgHow mollifying, late afternoon, when one is alone
and lunch is long over, to stop at the cafeteria

for a slice of key lime pie. You take a table
by the window and turn your back to the room

as if you have much to think about, when in reality
you are staring blankly at an almost rainy blank

sky and the windblown gestures of trees. You don't
linger, eating deliberately, carving each forkful

into equal parts topping and filling, which
together create tiny bifurcated hillocks of cloud

and meadow with a sandy crust below,
the topping the color of fine creamery butter,

the filling a green so pale, so diluted, its hue
is almost invisible. The ice water you sip

with your pie lends an appropriate austerity
to the occasion. There are others here:

the tall bleached blonde and her mother stirring
their coffee, the khakied group from an office

overearnestly eating a late lunch, the cashier
leafing through her newspaper. When you rise,

brush off your lap, and pause to take stock
of the one untouched dollop of cream

on your plate (obeisance to the pie gods),
your crumpled napkin, fork, and the old

airport parking tag you fished out of your
wallet when you paid the cashier, it is as if

you were never here, you never ate this slice
of pie, you never sat in this chair, chewing

and watching nothing out the window, thinking
of nothing except how finite pie is.

Patrick Summers of the Houston Grand Opera

Shannon Smith
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Patrick HS.jpgMy greatest culinary experience was made all the more so by being in a completely unexpected time and place. 

In 1991 I was conducting a production of Bizet's Carmen that was touring from San Francisco Opera touring to three different Japanese cities, Nagaoka, Sendai, and Tokyo. I was in Japan in advance of the rest of the cast rehearsing an amateur chorus in lovely Nagaoka, and near the end of my few days there I was told by my hosts that they would be taking me to lunch from 11am until around 4. Since 5 hours had been allotted, I assumed we were traveling some distance but actually we traveled only to nearby Niigata, on the northwest coast of Japan, where I was taken up the hill on a snowy morning to a restaurant called The Three Cranes. 

It feels perfunctory to call it is restaurant, for it was aesthetically unlike anything one might associate with the word. The large property sloped up quite a steep hill and was an immaculate Japanese garden interspersed with small shoji-screen and glass houses, each of which was a 'table'. We climbed to a distant part of the hill and entered our little house, removed our shoes and were each escorted to a changing room where we exchanged our clothes for warm and comfortable robes. Inside the dining area, we all sat together on the floor around the table, and I was surprised to find an open area below, unseen, where my legs could dangle as though we were seated on chairs. The area below the table was warmed by a small underground fireplace, and as we sipped the first course of the lunch, a ginseng tea, it began to snow. There surely can have been no more peaceful and delicate place. 

Then the food courses began: each of them quite small and exquisitely prepared and fresh. The courses alternated between cold and hot. Each, mostly fish and vegetables, was accompanied by a different tea or small amount of sake. A great deal of time stretched between the courses so that one never felt either rushed or hungry. I cannot imagine the depth of the preparation required for a meal that was over 30 courses, each on its own set of perfectly-chosen porcelain. Never has the experience of a meal been so perfectly balanced and understated. 

That gorgeous hillside is no longer a restaurant, the land having been developed for real estate. But I treasure the pristine perfection of each of those dishes, sitting in what felt like another world and time, blanketed by the silently falling snow. 

For the Love of Brazilian Cake

Shannon Smith
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Alex Blair: Dinner Conversations
Alex Blair shares her love of a chocolate Brazilian Cake that she can only eat when she is home in Brazil. 

Can you wax poetic about your favorite food or the memory of a meal? Then, we want to hear about it! Join our Dinner Conversation and tell us your story or write a poem. We are spending the year capturing Houstonian's culinary remembrances, treasured food traditions and life-changing meals; stories of family, friends, travel and community; threads of food memories that bind our cultures, weave communities and create generational customs. Email us:


Shannon Smith
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DeliciousAlchemySaveTheDateDelicious Alchemy is the ultimate expression of our vision: A world where healthy eating is the norm and a culture where nutritious food is shared, appreciated, and celebrated. A fête in four partsDinner Conversations, The Banquet, The Art of Food and The Community Supper. Join us as we celebrate our 10th anniversary and spread our vision and culture of healthy eating.  

The Banquet, Thursday, May 19. One hundred guests will gather 'round one long exquisitely set table under the sparkling chandeliers of The Dunlavy to dine on a sumptuous ten-course Banquet prepared by ten of Houston's iconic chefs and founding members of the Recipe For Success Foundation's Chef's Advisory Board. $2,500 per person, space is limited. 

Dinner Conversations is our year-long multi-media project of collecting personal essays, written, recorded and video interviews and photography capturing Houstonians sharing their most powerful food memories, life changing meals and fondest family food traditions, which will be published throughout the year and honored for posterity in an online archive of Houstonians at the Table. 

The Art of Food, Friday, May 20. An evening that tickles all your senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, featuring a juried art exhibit and silent auction, "We're Cooking Now! The Cookbook" signing, music, poetry, performance art and delectable nosh prepared by our town's most creative chefs offered in a free flowing party that promises to last until the wee hours.   VIP Salon   with table service $250, or General Admission $150 per person.  

The Community Supper, Sunday, May 22 4-7 pm. A Sunday afternoon of music, food and friends at Leonel Castillo Community Center, on where we will pay homage to the kind of shared community meals--pancake breakfasts, spaghetti suppers, chicken dinners, church picnics and block parties, upon which the towns and cities across America were built. $25 per adult; $10 for kids. 

Steak (R)evolution Panel Discussion at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Shannon Smith
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Community_Steak at MFAH-Panel.pngIn mid-October, Recipe for Success Foundation collaborated with MFAH Films, the film department at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for the screening of the documentary film Steak (R)Evolution. Directed by Franck Ribière, the film takes viewers around the world with farmers, chefs, butchers, and food journalists to uncover the art and culture of red meat.  

Following the film, Recipe for Success Foundation's Founder & CEO Gracie Cavnar led a panel discussion on the topics featured in the film. Panelists Glen & Honi Boudreaux, owners of Jolie Vue Farms and Chef Kris Jakob, of Kris Bistro at Culinary Institute LeNôtre, offered their perspectives of farming and beef production. Here are a few comments from the discussion: 

"Small-scale farming is bringing young people back into farming," said Glen Boudreaux. "I see that as a good thing, considering most farmers are over the age of 60. I'm glad to see that small-scale farming has grown exponentially over the years, and that's good for producers as well as consumers." 

Community_Steak at MFAH-Marian Luntz.png"As a chef, I am pleased that quality beef and other meats are accessible to restaurants and that more restaurants are serving cuts from nose to tail," said Chef Kris Jakob. "As restaurants, we have to do some marketing of the lesser-known cuts, but that's easy because many customers are asking about the products and wanting to know more about the food they're ordering."   

 As a small-scale farmer, Honi Boudreaux explained that she appreciates building relationships with customers. "We get to do direct sales, which connects the customer to the farms," said Honi. "Now the big meat industry is looking to farmers like us to learn how to go about that. I feel we must connect people to the land. That's what Recipe for Success gardens at schools do - they connect kids to the land. We have the capacity to grow all year, so no one should have to go hungry."  

Beefing Up the Big Screen

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MFAH_Steak (R)evolution; Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.jpg

There's no satisfaction quite like cutting into a perfectly succulent, marbled piece of steak.  But how does that cut of deliciousness get from farm to plate?  In his critically acclaimed documentary Steak (R)Evolution, director Franck Ribière takes viewers around the world with farmers, chefs, butchers, and food journalists to uncover the art of red meat. 

Ribière's goal is not only to find the best steak out there, but also to decipher what differentiates the best steaks and makes them notable, and how the shift to smaller-scale farming organizations is affecting the beef industry.  Highlights of his scrumptious steak odyssey include the Angus country of Scotland, the Kobe beef ranches in Japan, and some of New York City's most revered butcher shops and steakhouses.

Recipe for Success is co-sponsoring a screening of Steak (R)Evolution at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on Friday, October 9th, at 7pm, and a panel and Q&A with Glen Boudreaux from Jolie Vue Farms will immediately follow the screening.  We will also be collecting stories for our Dinner Conversations project.  If you cannot make the Friday night screening and panel, there will be one additional screening of the film on Saturday, October 10th, at 7pm.  Watch the trailer here!

Steak Revolution 2.jpg


Take a Seat at Our Table

Recipe for Success
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The Dinner Conversation is a new dialogue that we are starting Houston to honor our tenth anniversary, designed to celebrate our vision of a world where healthy eating is the norm and a culture where nutritious food is shared, appreciated, and celebrated.  It will be a multi-media project of personal essays, written, recorded and video interviews and photography that we will collect throughout the year.
Dinner Convo2 post #1.jpg
We have plans to capture Houstonians from every neighborhood and walk of life sharing their most powerful food memories, life changing meals and fondest family food traditions, which will be honored for posterity in an electronic book.  There will be some special sections including, A Taste of Home, where we ask immigrants to divulge where in Houston they find that special ingredient, and Food of Our Grandmothers--multiple generations remembering their family food traditions creating an oral and written history of life around their dinner table.  And on one special night, we will ask all Houstonians to take a group photo at dinner, capturing a moment in time in our diverse city for social media.  Pull up to our table and dig in!