Since they were flooded out of their Memorial-area mansion by Hurricane Harvey two-and-a-half years ago, John and Becca Cason Thrash have concentrated more on the clean-up than on hosting their legendary fundraisers that always have the city’s society set buzzing.
But the couple who make philanthropy fun were back in style Tuesday night, taking over the trendy Steak 48 restaurant for a glamorous seated dinner to raise funds for restoration efforts of Notre Dame de Paris, the iconic cathedral that was heavily destroyed by fire last year.
The invitation asked guests to dress “UP,” and the FOBs (Friends of Becca) eagerly complied, sporting glittery designer party dresses and tailored cocktail attire accessorized with eye-popping jewelry. “When I said ‘dress UP,’ y’all totally pulled it off,” Cason Thrash said.
The hostess sparkled in a form-fitting, long-sleeve sequined dress that she bought at Zara for $49 and paired with “zillions of dollars” worth of Van Cleef & Arpels jewels. “It’s all about high/low dressing,” she explained.
After cocktails in the downstairs bar—packed with more than 200 guests who had to shout to be heard above the din—the crowd made its way upstairs for the seated dinner, generously donated by Steak 48 owner Jeff Mastro and chief branding officer Oliver Badgio.
Amid flickering tiered candles and white tablecloths, guests feasted on crab cakes; two choices of salad; entrées of filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, pan sautéed chicken, or Shetland Island salmon; corn crème brûlée; roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon; and executive chef Jeff Taylor’s famed au gratin potatoes.
Attendees table-hopped with abandon between courses to admire one another's outfits and discuss how 2020 has gotten off to a roaring start in Houston with so many social activities.
As the evening stretched toward midnight, they shared desserts of s’mores in a jar and warm vanilla caramel cake with toasted pecans. Those who didn’t have to go to work the next day—or who just threw caution to the wind—then headed to the downstairs bar for a nightcap.
Cason Thrash, who is well-known in Paris for her prodigious talents in organizing several high-dollar fundraisers to benefit the Louvre, was approached by Notre Dame officials about leading an effort to raise money for restoration even before the fire happened.
She told them, “I’d love to help with your restoration, but I’m actually doing my own,” she recalled, referring to her home in Harvey's aftermath. “And then the fire happened.”
She eagerly agreed to enlist her Houston friends in the restoration efforts with the dinner, which quickly sold out at $400 per person.
“Over 15 million people a year visit Notre Dame," she explained in brief remarks. "It’s a landmark. It’s a refuge. It’s a beacon of hope. We’ve all had our personal moment there.”
She also served as auctioneer, encouraging guests to bid on an oversized painting by noted artist Hunt Slonem. After a spirited bidding war, Andrew and Raquel Segal snagged the artwork with a winning bid of $38,000.
In all, the evening raised more than $150,000.
The see-and-be-seen crowd included socialites, fashionistas, entrepreneurs, and politicos alike. CBS Sunday Morning contributor Mo Rocca, who was in town to sign copies of his new book, Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, stopped by, too.
While the party was not in his honor, “by the end of the night it will be,” he joked.