Chef showdown

Competition for steak supremacy gets heated at Fort Worth Symphony fundraiser

Competition for steak supremacy gets heated at FWSO fundraiser

Juan Rodriguez, James Gaines, Rena Frost
Juan Rodriguez, Rena Frost, James Gaines Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
Pascaline Berghmans, Erica Gibbins
Pascaline Berghmans, Erica Gibbins Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
Keith Cerny, Pascaline Berghmans, Dwayne Smith, Greg Gibbins
Keith Cerny, Pascaline Berghmans, Dwayne Smith, Greg Gibbins Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
Swang Lin, James Gaines,  Molly
Swang Lin, James Gaines, Molly Baer Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
Keith Cerny, Jennifer Cerny
Keith Cerny, Jennifer Cerny Photo by Katie Kelly
Molly Norcross, Juan Rodriguez, Marilyn d’Auteuil
Molly Norcross, Juan Rodriguez, Marilyn d’Auteuil Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
JB Huck, Rena Frost, Tim Raetz
JB Huck, Rena Frost, Tim Raetz Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
FWSO Steak of the Arts
Guests get their meat samples to vote for their favorite. Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
FWSO Steak of the Arts
The event took place at Mopac Event Center. Photo by Lawrence Jenkins
Juan Rodriguez, James Gaines, Rena Frost
Pascaline Berghmans, Erica Gibbins
Keith Cerny, Pascaline Berghmans, Dwayne Smith, Greg Gibbins
Swang Lin, James Gaines,  Molly
Keith Cerny, Jennifer Cerny
Molly Norcross, Juan Rodriguez, Marilyn d’Auteuil
JB Huck, Rena Frost, Tim Raetz
FWSO Steak of the Arts
FWSO Steak of the Arts

What: Steak of the Arts 

Where: Mopac Event Center

The 411: The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra took its on-stage sizzle to the party set on May 3, throwing a meaty fundraiser to benefit music education for children around the city.

More than 130 guests mingled with cocktails courtesy of Acre Distilling — the Acre Ginger Peach Tea Vodka was a hit — and posed for photos in front of a gorgeous giant flower wall in the courtyard before the main event began. They could also purchase tickets to win two different "Lush Wagons" — "his" or "hers" — filled with luxury items ranging from Kendra Scott jewelry, to TCU and SMU sports tickets, to $150 Goody Goody Liquor gift card.

At the appointed hour, grills were heated, ingredients were prepped, and smoke began to rise. Three of Fort Worth's top chefs — Rena Frost of Mac's on Main, Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena's, and James Gaines of Reata Restaurant — went head to head in a grilling showdown for steak supremacy. Serving as sous chefs were FWSO musicians Molly NorcrossMarilyn d’AuteuilSwang Lin, and Molly Baer, along with JB Huck and Tim Raetz from presenting sponsor Bank of Texas.

Attendees lined up for samples, then voted for their favorite and headed inside for a hearty buffet of steak, potatoes, and veggies, courtesy of City Kitchen.

The symphony's new CEO Keith Cerny, attending with wife Jennifer, recognized event co-chairs Pascaline Berghmans and Dwayne Smith and their committee, sponsors, and supporters. "Because of all of your unwavering support, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will continue to be a cultural treasure for the city of Fort Worth," he said.

Then it was time for the moment of truth: the announcement of the winning chef. Triumphant by just 13 votes was "Team Juan" — Rodriguez with sous chefs Norcross and d’Auteuil — whose steak preparation included a peanut sauce and chimichurri. (The victory came only days after Rodriguez was named Fort Worth Chef of the Year at CultureMap's prestigious Tastemaker Awards.)

Trays of cake balls were passed around for dessert, and those who wanted to continue to party lined up at the bars again and took a twirl on the dance floor. The Nolan Pick Band kept things lively from beginning to end.

All proceeds from Steak of the Arts benefit the FWSO's Adventures in Music program, which brings music to 60,000 children each year. Since its inception, the program has provided free and low-cost programs to more than 1 million youngsters in Tarrant County and surrounding areas.