The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas


September 14, 2013

COOKING WITH SIMON: Good food for a great cause

PALESTINE — This week I had the chance to appear on KYTX-CBS19 in Tyler to talk about the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala & Auction. It’s a privilege to be one of the chefs cooking for the event, and also have the opportunity to prepare on television the recipe I will be offering on the night of the gala.

This will be the fourth annual East Texas version of the Signature Chefs Gala & Auction and the March of Dimes will also be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the organization.

The event will be held Monday, Sept. 23 at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler and the menu features recipes from 12 other East Texas chefs. The evening will offer guests an opportunity to enjoy a great night out while raising funds and increasing awareness of the March of Dimes mission to improve the health of babies.

Another Palestine chef that will be participating is Jackson York from the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center. It should be a great evening and I am hoping to see some Palestine folks at the event. It’s a chance to get out for some great food that supports a great cause.

Funds raised will support lifesaving research and educational programs right here in East Texas. Six hospitals in Texas partner with March of Dimes to offer the NICU Family Support Program. The program addresses the needs of the families during their NICU hospitalization and their transition home. It also offers professional education opportunities to the NICU staff to support the care for families centered around their needs and experiences.

Premature birth is the most serious infant health problem in the United States today. It affects more than half a million babies nationwide each year, with one in every eight babies born premature in our community. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have lifelong disabilities. March of Dimes is committed to reversing this trend by funding research to find the causes of premature birth and developing strategies to prevent it.  

In addition to all the great food the chefs will be preparing, there will also be some unique auction packages and opportunities to mingle with the chefs, ask questions and learn more about the March of Dimes mission.

My dish will be a New Zealand lamb chop served on top of a polenta crouton and topped with a red onion sauce. What’s unique about the sauce is that the onions are caramelized in a jelly that was made with Lomanto red grapes from my vineyard.

My good friend, Linda Walton made a large batch of jelly with some of my grapes and it is some of the best jelly I have ever had – plus the most brilliant shade of purple you’ve ever seen.

Funny thing, I call it jam, because in New Zealand what we call jelly is actually what Americans call gelatin or Jell-o.  Sometimes, even in English, things get lost in translation.

Other chefs participating in the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala include Glen Terrell of Brookshire Grocery Co., Bernard Gautier of Bernard Mediterranean Restaurant, Whit and Lisa Bowman of Adalante’ Catering and Events, Carlos Villapudua of Villa Montez, Cedric Fletcher of Fat Catz, Tony Barrera of Lago del Pino and Dion Emanuel of Willow Brook Country Club.

Also, Bettie Smith-Desha, of Village Bakery, Rick Neal, of Eagles Bluff Country Club and Jack Lewis, of Rick’s on the Square in Tyler.

Hope to see you there. Come say hello, if you do.

For ticket information, contact Vicki Hargrove of the March of Dimes at 903-707-3584, or

And be sure to go to to watch the video of me cooking the lamb chops on CBS19. It’s a lot of fun to watch and might answer a few questions about cooking lamb at home.

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