It was a magnificent, memorable evening at the elegant residence of Garrett and Beth Claybourn. The couple recently entertained 22 prominent guests to raise an admirable sum for the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. The lavish dinner, comprised of five exquisite courses and hors d’oeuvres prepared by nationally renowned Chef John Folse, was hosted as the result of Mr. and Mrs. Claybourns’ winning bid on a coveted auction lot during the Baton Rouge Symphony’s Mozart on the Lake fundraiser held at Chef Folse’s White Oak Plantation earlier in the year.
“Two dinners were actually sold the night of the auction,” explained Beth, “Another person was bidding along with me, and we were bidding rapidly against each other for the dinner. When the bidding got to a certain price, John Folse had the shrewdness to ask if we both wanted the dinner at the last bid price. We both agreed, which doubled the contribution for the Symphony,” she said.
“The partnership we have created with Chef Folse and the Baton Rouge Symphony has a unique Louisiana aspect,” said Maestro Timothy Muffit, who is currently in his ninth season with the Baton Rouge Symphony. The acclaimed conductor’s work has been marked by innovative, imaginative programming. “Beth Claybourn’s home is unique and it is a beautiful facet of south Louisiana as well,” he surmised. “The dinner was a unique blend of Louisiana food, music, and great hospitality in the magnificent home and care of the Claybourns.”
“My husband and I love the symphony. I thought it would be a wonderful way to do something for Timothy and the orchestra,” noted Beth. “Most of the guests we invited are major contributors to the culture of our city.”
Preceding the dinner, invited guests were presented with elegant, custom hand-torn invitations on 100 percent cotton paper, which were individually inscribed by calligrapher Sidney Vallon, an affiliate of Paper N Things in Baton Rouge. Owner Stacey Miremont of Paper N Things donated the unique invitations in addition to the calligraphic place cards and menu cards that were situated at each table setting during the dinner.
The guests who attended the elaborate dinner at the Claybourn residence included philanthropic business and community leaders such as Jim Bob Moffett and his wife, Lauree; Jim and Dana Bernhard; Ted and Carmen Jones; Buster and Cindy Quirk; and Nat Keifer, Jr. and his wife, Linda. Baton Rouge Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden and his wife, Lois, and Father Cleo Milano were also among the guests in attendance.
As the evening began, guests gathered at the outdoor bar to enjoy live chamber music and a selection of Louisiana canapés and cocktails amidst the splendor of the Claybourns’ gracious hospitality. Inside the stunning home appointed with an exceptional collection of fine antiques, art, and collectibles, the three dining tables were set with the finest china, flatware, crystal, and linen, assuring that Chef Folse’s dinner would be served in a style worthy of the Claybourns’ guests.
Chantilly lace table linens and napkins with delicate lace appliqués added an elegant touch to tables set with a blend of china from Beth’s collection. “It is a collection of family pieces from my grandmother, my mother, and Garrett’s mother,” said Beth. “I was so happy to use all of it.” Italian platinum and gold chargers complemented the lustrous Waterford Platinum and Waterford Gold stemware blended with Vintage Heisey crystal stemware at each place setting.
A banquet of royal dimensions was deployed on tables abundantly adorned with fresh all-white flowers by Jake’s on the Avenue located in Denham Springs. In the main dining room, the arms of two large sterling silver candelabras were dressed with wreaths that included white hydrangeas, Casablanca lilies, cream French tulips, white Lisianthus, freesias, phlox, Dendrobium orchid sprays, Queen Anne’s Lace, ivory Majolica roses, Vendela roses, Akito roses, and Eskimo roses. Small, all-white Pavé arrangements in crystal bowls were placed down the center of the table. The adjacent table featured an exquisite crystal vase and two majestic antique wooden candlesticks with white Dendrobium orchid sprays that rivaled another centerpiece in a beautiful crystal vase with a proliferation of French tulips.
Prior to dinner, Chef Folse presented the menu to the guests and compared the evening to an event held in France. “This night, in this home, is just as beautiful as a dinner I prepared for 250 guests at Versailles. The setting and the ambiance are just as wonderful.”
Father Cleo Milano bestowed the blessing on the meal. He also stated, “While I have been to many dinner parties I can assure you none of them have ever matched your magical evening. You set the bar very high with your gifted sense of style, beauty, and decorating.”
“What the Claybourns have accomplished in Baton Rouge is extraordinary,” added Jim Bob Moffett. “Their contributions to business and the arts in this city have been a tremendous asset to this community. Not only is Beth our designer, but we consider the Claybourns our friends.”
During the evening, several guests toasted Beth for all of her hard work. Jim Bernhard stated, “Beth took Dana and me to a whole new level in our homes. We didn’t know that our homes could be so fine and elegant but inviting at the same time. She helped with the architectural drawing as well as with every little detail down to putting the pictures in the picture frames.”
Ted Jones added, “While I have spent most of the last 30 years in Washington and have been to many dinner parties, this one will always stand out at the top of my list.”
Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden said, “We all have come so far and God has blessed our families.” He then thanked the Claybourns for sharing their beautiful home for everyone to enjoy.
“Their hospitality was magnificent,” said Maestro Muffit of the Claybourns. “An event such as this, which was for the benefit of the Symphony, is the kind of thing that makes it possible to enhance the quality of life in Baton Rouge. We are excited that the Baton Rouge Symphony is a part of this growing, progressive city.”