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Dinner of a Lifetime-Houston Notables “Dish” about a “Dream Dinner!”

Dinner Of A Lifetime 8up Image Template

Dinner of a Lifetime-Houston Notables "Dish" about a "Dream Dinner!"

“Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner?” as some of Houston’s most notable share their “Dinner of a Lifetime.” The Social Book’s Scott Evans asked them the following question: If you had the opportunity to have a glorious group of guests for a “once-in-a-lifetime” dinner, who would you include at this grand feast, and why? Also, what would you serve? We gave them a table of six to eight guests and instructed them that their guests could be anyone in history that intrigued them, anyone in their sphere of influence, and lastly, that the person(s) could be alive or dead. Enjoy their choices and delight in their comments. Who would you choose?

Warner Book Photo In Red Hands Clasped

Warner Roberts

Photo by Debbie Porter
Prominent freelance fashion model, award-winning television journalist, stage and film actress, philanthropist, community volunteer, writer, publisher, speaker, wife, mother, grandmother, and Houston’s “Sweetest Sweetheart!”

WARNER ROBERTS: Host and Seat 1:

Dinner Guest 2:  Jesus
Jesus would be my number one guest because He spoke to me when I was 12 and has been speaking to me every day of my life since. I speak to him all the time.

Dinner Guest 3:  Ophelia Warner-SuperMom
My hero, my mom, Ophelia Warner, because she will have so much fun with these guests and contribute so much to the conversation.

Dinner Guest 4:  Reverend Billy Graham
Billy Graham would enjoy this dinner because he could ask Jesus: “Do you think I did a good job?”  I loved interviewing Billy Graham and think he was such a good man.

Dinner Guest 5:  First Lady Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush would be so very entertaining, and I think she would enjoy all the guests. What a great sense of humor she has and what great stories she can tell. I loved my interviews with her. Mrs. Bush and my mother have similar personalities and would love each other.

Dinner Guest 6:  Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein would be so much fun, and maybe we could all learn a little something.

Dinner Guest 7:  Bob Roberts, “The Phantom”
My husband would be a great guest since he and Albert each have a genius IQ. And, Phantom would have a joke for everyone! If you would like to see one happy hostess, I would include my sons, daughter-in-laws and my 5 Grandsons … I’M GOING TO NEED A BIGGER TABLE!

Dinner Guest 8:  Mother Teresa
Mother Theresa always said you should never go to anyone’s home without taking some sort of gift. I know what she would bring to my table and pour it all over everyone:  LOVE!

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?
I would serve anything from Mom’s cookbook, Supermom’s Country Cookin’ Cookbook. That might be Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Biscuits, or Chicken and Dumplings with Turnip Greens and Cornbread; Or, something simple like Salmon and Asparagus. Everything Supermom cooked was delicious. I would, of course, serve my favorite wine, Puligny-Montrachet

Deborah Duncan W Logo

Deborah Duncan

Photo courtesy of Channel 11
Beloved media personality and host of KHOU-TV Channel 11’s ‘”Great Day Houston.” Deborah has just celebrated 20 years at the station and is the recipient of many local and national awards for television excellence, including two Emmy Awards, two Gracie Allen Awards and a Telly Award. She is also a wonderful mother to her son Duncan. 

DEBORAH DUNCAN: Host and Seat 1:
I am officially starting to sound like my mother. Is it my imagination, or are things getting more ridiculous by the day? Overdoses, mass shootings, abuse, and hatred all seem to be in overdrive but are things really worse or are we just more in touch with every bad moment because of access through social media? Maybe I just need a reset to remind me that humans are no different today than they were decades or centuries ago, which is why our work will never be done and we must always remain vigilant and hold ourselves accountable. My dinner guests will remind us that humans are very much still a work in progress. They have seen the best in humans but they have also seen the worst.

Dinner Guest 2:  Harriet Tubman
Ms. Tubman was born a slave around 1820. Despite suffering from injuries delivered by an angry overseer, Tubman was not deterred in her efforts to escort over 300 slaves to freedom through the underground railroad … and as she pointed out to Frederick Douglass, “I never lost a single passenger!” She could have just gotten herself out, but Tubman felt a higher calling to risk her life and get something priceless in return, freedom for others.

Dinner Guest 3:  Elie Wiesel
Wiesel wrote the first book that ever touched me in a profound way. I was in 6th grade and I had to read the book “Night.” It was Wiesel’s firsthand account of the Holocaust and the atrocities he endured and witnessed as his family was torn apart and taken to different concentration camps. He was just a little boy and that resonated with me at the time. What child should ever have to endure such inhumanity? Years later, I was able to interview Mr. Wiesel and share the difference I hope this book made in the world. To this day, it still teaches such valuable lessons. As Wiesel once said, “In any society, fanatics who hate, don’t only hate me—they hate you too. They hate everybody.” Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he felt, “An injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere.”

Dinner Guest 4:  Nelson Mandela
When the U.S. was engaged in the modern Civil Rights Movement to end discrimination, in 1948, South Africa passed Apartheid which implemented racial segregation. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in America, Mandela at first tried peaceful resistance. He later resorted to the beliefs shared by Malcolm X, “By any means necessary”. Mandela was arrested several times and finally issued a life sentence. Mounting pressure from around the world resulted in his release and amazingly his election as President of South Africa. Despite calls to get even for the treatment of Black South Africans, President Mandela worked to resolve and dissolve the hatred spawned by racism. Quotes by Mandela on forgiveness include, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” and “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear.”

Dinner Guest 5:  Stephen Hawking
We are so quick to define people by what they can’t do, that we can easily overlook the amazing things they can do. When diagnosed with a motor neuron disease, Hawking eventually became paralyzed to the point where he could no longer speak, but he didn’t let that stop his bright mind from communicating with the world at the highest levels. His means of communication was eventually the use of just a cheek muscle and minute movements. His persistence and acceptance that he would just do things differently meant the sky was the limit. Actually not even the sky limited him. He is noted for some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs.

Dinner Guest 6:  Condoleezza Rice
During a town hall meeting I was moderating with her, someone asked if she thought we were at “The end of times.” She smiled and said, “No matter how hard it may seem at times, history has taught us that we can get through it. The example the former United States Secretary of State gave was the U.S. Civil War. The entire nation was in chaos and bent on destroying each other. We came through it and built one of the strongest nations in history.

This is why it’s important to study history and the people who made it. Along the way, my dinner guests have all served as society’s reset button. When something horrible enough happens personally or in society, God’s gift is the people willing to step out, challenge it and not accept it as our fate but remind us of the power of faith.

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?
My daddy’s Fried Chicken, Mama’s Collard Greens, Hot Water Cornbread and Sweet Potato Pie. That alone should be enough to set the world straight, but apparently not.

Rose Cullen

Rose Cullen

Photo by Gittings
One of Houston’s most adored citizens and philanthropists. She is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. The Cullen family’s legacy is engrained in Houston’s history and our community and our lives are the better for it.

ROSE CULLEN:  Host and Seat 1:
I would love to be the only woman at the dinner and converse with the men one-on-one and see what makes each of them tick.

Dinner Guest 2:  Bob Hope
One of the world’s great entertainers. He always made me laugh!

Dinner Guest 3:  Arnold Palmer
I always had a crush on this golfing legend.

Dinner Guest 4:  Hugh Roy Cullen
His family was very important to him and his elegant dinner parties always included a gathering of the family.

Dinner Guest 5:  Harry Cullen, Sr.
I miss our dinners at home and dining out. He could converse with anyone on any topic and everyone loved him.

Dinner Guest 6:  Elvis Presley
Who wouldn’t love to have the “King of Rock ‘n Roll” at the dinner table? I was thrilled with his music and stage presence.

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?:
Arugula with shaved Parmesan and Roasted Pine Nuts topped with a Wine Vinaigrette dressing, Beef Wellington, Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus Bundles with Red Pepper Wrap, Yeast Rolls, and for dessert-Chocolate Mousse in Parfait Glass with dab of Whipped Cream. Such a low-calorie dinner but only the best for my very special guests.

Herring Joanne King Reduced

Honorable Joanne King Herring

Photo by Gittings
Some of the titles used to describe this Houston Royal are The Dame, Knight, Ambassador, U.N. Women for Peace Lifetime Recipient To Help Them Where They Are, Consulate General of Pakistan and Morocco, Medal of Honor Nominee, Texas Hall of Famer, international socialite, global political activist, philanthropist, author and television personality, mother and grandmother. Julia Roberts portrayed Joanne in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the film that documents her improbable and crucial support of the Afghans against the Soviet Union. The Afghans won without involving American soldiers. Joanne says, “Many others deserve equal recognition. Unending thanks and God bless all of them for what they have done and continue to do.”


Dinner Guests 2 and 3:  Nancy and Rich Kinder
This wonderful couple gives generously and anonymously, expecting nothing but the joy of seeing a severe need addressed and rectified.

Dinner Guests 4 and 5:  Susan and the late Fayez Sarofim
Just like the Kinders, this wonderful husband and wife team joined them in seeking and solving the needs of our vibrant city.

Dinner Guest 6:  George Washington
What could be better than having the “Father of our Country” as a dinner guest? He was the only American to turn down being asked to be King!

Dinner Guest 7 and 8:  Jim and Whitney Crane
Jim is a remarkable businessman. His acumen and persistence gave our city’s baseball team a World Series title–not once, but twice! They are a lovely couple!

Dinner Guests 9 and 10:   My Sons Beau and Robin King
My family is very important to me and they would add so much to the dinner conversation!

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?
A great steak is hard to find- they are getting harder to find than a good man!

Ward Laura Dave

Laura and Dave Ward

Photo courtesy of Laura and Dave Ward
This dynamic duo is a formidable fabric in the tapestry of our city. For over 50 years, Dave was “The Voice of Houston” and the “The Dean of Houston News” on KTRK Channel 13. He began every newscast with “Good evening, friends.” Talking to friends is how Dave thought about his nightly interaction with his viewers and his viewers felt the same way about him. Wife Laura has been a Founder and the Executive Director of Houston Children’s Charity since its inception in 1996. Through her remarkable efforts, for both the organization and other charities, millions of dollars have been raised for Houston’s needy children, families and worthwhile projects. What a legacy they have made!

DAVE and LAURA WARD:   Hosts and Seats 1 and 2:
Dave chose Laura as his treasured guest at the table, even though she is a host. He says, “She is the most wonderful person, inside and out, that I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

Dinner Guest 3 (chosen by Dave Ward):  Walter Cronkite
I have looked up to and emulated him throughout my career.

Dinner Guest 4 (chosen by Laura Ward):  Erma Bombeck
She was one the most entertaining people/authors that I’ve ever known, and she coined a phrase that I love so much – “Real women don’t pump gas, and real men don’t eat quiche.”  Dave and I live by this!

Dinner Guest 5 (chosen by Laura Ward):  Tony Bennett
He would entertain us throughout the evening with his heart and soul melodies.

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?:
Southern-Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes with Triple Cream Butter, Cajun Green Beans, Corn Pudding, Tabouli and Profiteroles for dessert.

manouse ernie

Ernie Manouse

Photo courtesy of Evin Thayer Studios
A very funny and engaging person who is loved and respected by many. He is an acclaimed television host, radio personality, writer and producer. Ernie currently hosts the interview show InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse, produced by HoustonPBS. His work has been met with critical acclaim in the southern United States, earning him numerous KATIE awards and regional Emmy Awards.

ERNIE MANOUSE:   Host and Seat 1:
Well, it’s my party – so I’d better be there! Plus, I’m a very entertaining dinner host, if I do say so myself!

Dinner Guest 2:  Tammy Faye Bakker-Messner
I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Tammy while she was still with us – always a ray of sunshine, and much smarter than people gave her credit for.  Often, when one is sweet and accepting, we interpret that as simple or naive … she was anything but—she knew the score, stood by her beliefs, and was able to defend and explain herself succinctly and assuredly … But never forgoing kindness, sweetness, and joy. She would lighten up, and brighten up, any gathering.

Dinner Guest 3:  Dr. Peter Hotez
Who doesn’t want a warm-hearted intellectual at your table? In a time when health concerns are paramount, how great to be able to ask an expert about health, medicine, science, research, environmental factors and even bio threats facing the human race. From childhood vaccinations to world water issues—Dr. Hotez is the expert we need to hear from now!

Dinner Guest 4:  Cher
Every interviewer has that ultimate wish list of guests they would love to interview—for me, one name that has always remained at the top of that list—Cher! A career that has spanned 7 decades (so far), racking up number-one hits in every one of them—that is an amazing career by any standard – Actor, producer, director, humanitarian, philanthropist, and worldclass entertainer. From the ability to stay current and change with the times—she has an uncanny ability to “read the room.” Genuine and real—you always know what she is thinking. Plus, she has just launched her own Gelato line (“CHERlato”), so she could bring dessert!

Dinner Guest 5:  Eartha Kitt
Again, another artist I had been lucky enough to work with over the years (she even joined me on my 90’s Chicago radio show to give her take on the O.J.  Trial). Not just a strong woman from a time when her strength was seen as a threat, she also possessed an amazingly inquisitive mind. When asked in the mid 50’s one person she would like to meet—her answer was not one of the hot stars of the day but was Albert Einstein. A delightful storyteller—when she shared with me the tale of meeting the famed theoretical physicist, it was more a full-on performance, than simply sharing a memory. I would love to see her engage with Dr. Hotez on the science behind vaccine development! You have to earn Eartha’s warmth, but when you do, strap in for a wild ride! (and quite a few purrs thrown in for good measure).

Dinner Guest 6:  Czar Nicholas II
A man greatly misunderstood by history—I have always been fascinated by the story of his life … Ruler of the largest land mass on the planet during his time, the Czar held total responsibility, down to the smallest detail—even divorce decrees needed to be signed off on by the Czar himself. With the lives of millions dependent on his every move, the pressure to rule his empire, the belief he was God’s chosen, and the encroachment of the modern age—Nicholas ruled during the crossroads of humanity, yet he was ill-equipped to deal with the challenges and changing times, the massive poverty, and the growing resentment. In reality, all he wanted was to be a loving husband and father.  A real, and flawed man, he lacked the skills and understanding to hold his nation together … In a quest to better understand this man, I invite him to my dinner (but he has to leave Rasputin at home)!

Dinner Guest 7:  Benjamin Franklin
Founding Father, Great Thinker, Renowned Wit, and internationally recognized party animal (at least by the standards of his time)—bring me Benjy Franklin! Always a favorite of mine, I was so inspired, I even played him in my junior high production of the Broadway musical 1776 … Now thanks to The Social Book, I get the chance to actually enjoy his company and pick his brain!  We might even run outside and fly a kite (weather permitting … or not!).

Dinner Guest 8:  Joanne King Herring
Honestly, can you have a dream dinner in this town without Joanne? With grace, class, a sharp wit, and a zest for life the size of Texas—how could I bring this group together without her?  More than a guest, I hope she would agree to co-host this gathering—and I’d be curious to see her seating arrangement, understanding it will be shifting and changing throughout the courses. Always on top of current events and issues of the day, she never lacks curiosity or thoughtful questions, and insight. I’m guessing that is one of the reasons she was so successful as a TV talk show host in one of her many past lives … Plus, Cher needs someone there to show her how to continue to stay vibrant and elegant throughout the ages!  I mean honestly, at some point, they are going to be the only two people left on this planet!

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?:
Years ago, a food and lifestyle magazine asked me for my favorite meal to prepare for a dinner party.  At that point in life, I was new to Houston, not much of a foodie, and still a little “wet behind the ears.”  In a panic, I reached out to dear friend Jackson Hicks for help—he said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” and he did.  He reached out to the magazine and submitted “my” recipes, and even photos of my dishes. It wasn’t until the issue came out that I saw what I would be serving! A fresh seafood cocktail (served in a martini glass), a big Texas-sized steak, and for dessert Crème Brûlée—quite a menu for someone who wasn’t sure how his stove even worked! So why not? Let’s celebrate Jackson’s kindness and generosity in making me look good, and actually make the meal I was credited with all those years ago!



Frank Billingsley

Photo courtesy of Evin Thayer Studios
For over three decades Frank has been forecasting Houston weather. Six of those years were spent at KTRK Channel 13 and since 1995, Frank has been the “Face of Meteorology” at KPRC Channel 2, which Houstonians have come to trust! He is also a best-selling author, having written the story of his adoption and search for his family, entitled “Swabbed and Found.” Franks says, “Like everyone, I hold the titles of husband, step-father, son, brother, nephew, cousin. And now, author.”

FRANK BILLINGSLEY:   Host and Seat 1:

Dinner Guest 2:  Bette Midler
Bette would be there for the LAUGHS!

Dinner Guest 3:  Eva Perón
Eva would be there for fashion and economic advice.

Dinner Guest 4:  Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson’s presence would be for PERSPECTIVE!

Dinner Guest 5:  Ernest Hemingway
“Papa” Hemingway would join the table to impress my English teachers.

Dinner Guest 6:  Leonardo da Vinci
My last table guest would certainly be Leonardo da Vinci. His appearance would undoubtedly make me smarter!

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?:
I’m serving breakfast for dinner. That’s safe because everyone likes breakfast for dinner!

Gittings Photography Hf55476

Beth Wolff

Photo by Gittings
This self-made superstar, mother and grandmother created one of Houston’s most successful real estate companies. Beth collaborated with business, civic and social stakeholders and has helped shape Houston’s growth, vitality, and quality of life. Her numerous accolades reflect the respect given for her lifetime of accomplishments.

BETH WOLFF:   Host and Seat 1:
As a woman whose life took unexpected challenges and who experienced being a woman in a man’s world, these dinner guests come to mind, who are ideally capable of lending wisdom to today’s issues.

Dinner Guest 2:  Ima Hogg
She was one of the most influential women in our city’s history. She was a society leader, philanthropist, patron of the arts, and mental health advocate. She would be an outstanding dinner guest.

Dinner Guest 3:  Cleopatra
Cleopatra was one of the most powerful women in the world. She was well educated and her ability to address many subjects make her a perfect dinner guest.

Dinner Guest 4:  Jacqueline Kennedy
Jackie was well known for her intellect as well as her grace. Her life experiences would make her an excellent dinner guest.

Dinner Guest 5:  Susan B. Anthony
Paving the way for the 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote earns Susan B. Anthony a seat at this table. She was another woman before her time and did not live to see this become law.

Dinner Guest 6:  Marie Curie
Marie Curie entered the traditionally male field of science and was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize.

Dinner Guest 7:  Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth also led an exceptional life! Her untimely rise to power as well as her ability to address issues over her 70-year reign would make her an interesting guest.

Dinner Guest 8:  Oprah Winfrey
Oprah represents a contemporary influencer. She is the first female African-American billionaire and a great conversationalist.

Dinner Guest 9:  Martha Stewart
Martha would be on this list and also host my dinner at her 63-acre Maine home, Skyland. She became successful by creatively applying the traditional “women’s world” to modern culture. As a guest, she would lend her expertise and could converse over many topics.

What food would you serve at this “Dinner of a Lifetime”?:
Fourth-generation and Michelin-star chef Anne-Sophie Pic from Paris would prepare the multi-course dinner to allow all the guests the opportunity for discussion.

Restaurant Poll Img

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