Raising a Glass to the 2019 Leaders & Legends
By Evan W. Black, Photos by Jhane Hoang
Where better to celebrate the city’s rising stars and icons than at Tony Vallone’s iconic restaurant, Tony’s on Richmond. That’s where the who’s-who of Houston gathered last night for an intimate party toasting Houston CityBook’s second group of BBVA Compass Presents Leaders & Legends, sponsored by Deutsch Fine Jewelry, as seen in a dynamic portrait portfolio shot by Steve Visneau in the April issue.
BBVA and Deutsch welcomed 150 guests to the cocktail party, which took place in Tony’s private dining room. As one has come to expect from Tony Vallone, who was honored in the 2018 Leaders & Legends feature, the food and drink presentation was a conversation-starter: Trays carrying cocktail “spheres” — soft little bursting jelly beans filled with top-shelf Manhattans and Aperol Spritzes, served on a spoon — as well as tall glasses of chilled prosecco circulated the room. A tasting station for terrific Italian wines was offered, too. The bite-sized truffle-topped gnocchi, crispy almond-crusted shrimp and salmon-tartare-filled waffle cones were addicting; skewers of hot-pink cotton-candy-wrapped foie gras was easily the night’s (the year’s?) most unique nibble.
As the room filled with people, waiters carefully navigated the crowd carrying the restaurant’s famous whole salt-crusted Gulf red snapper overhead, making its entrance dramatically aflame; a ribeye carving station with housemade biscuits was also popular. VIPs — including Page Parkes, Giorgio Borlenghi, Jim and Jo Furr, and 2018 honorees Phoebe Tudor, Lauren Anderson and Houston Ballet star Connor Walsh — stood shoulder-to-shoulder as CityBook’s Executive Publisher Lisa Holthouse and Editor in Chief Jeff Gremillion praised the honorees for their contributions to their respective disciplines, and presented them with special gifts, courtesy of Events.
The 2019 Leaders & Legends, many of whom were in attendance, included gospel great Yolanda Adams; opera star Ana María Martínez; interior designers Lucinda Loya and Bill Stubbs; chef-restaurateurs Johnny Carrabba and Ronnie Killen; broadcast icon Dave Ward; podcast-network creator Luke Brawner; philanthropists Margaret Alkek Williams and Sofía Adrogué; civil rights warrior Bill Lawson; and Congressman Dan Crenshaw, who graced the cover of the issue.