Gather ’Round!

June’s Perfect Party

A Toast to New Beginnings

By Catherine Matusow June 2, 2014 Published in the June 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

From top left: Maclean Smyth, Eric Berger, Nikenya Rochester, Romeo Santos, Jessica Kuster, Abinadi Meza, Joann Takasaki, Damian Mandola

Ah, a month of fresh starts at our summer table. Now that Houston Makerspace has finally opened its doors, what better time to extend an invitation to Maclean Smyth and ask her how the making’s going at our city’s new creativity incubator? Another new thing: hurricanes, courtesy the season, which begins June 1, hence our interest in the Chron’s Eric Berger, everyone’s favorite weather expert/haiku artist. High school student Nikenya Rochester is embarking on a whole new adventure, having secured a $4,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Houston after winning a cooking competition—something she was destined for from the moment she fell in love with her Easy Bake Oven. Never heard of Romeo Santos? You will. The stadium-filling Bronx-born Latin singer—whose recent album Formula, Vol. 2 features collaborations with Drake, Nicki Minaj, Marc Anthony, Carlos Santana, Tego Calderón, and Kevin Hart—is rapidly on his way to world domination (and the Toyota Center, June 4–5). There’s a new all-time high-scorer in women’s basketball at Rice—Jessica Kuster, who just graduated with an economics degree. UH art professor Abinadi Meza is off to Italy soon—it was recently announced that he received the prestigious, super-competitive Rome Prize. Local food and travel writer Joann Takasaki is just out with a Hawaiian cookbook, Luau Like a Local: The Easy Way, with her mother Susanna. If you roast up the pig for our party, Joann, we’ll do the mai tais, though we simply must have wine with dinner. And so we sympathize with our guest of honor, Damian Mandola, the famed local restaurateur recently busted for breaking into Duchman Family Winery, allegedly, to steal a bottle of vino and begin a life beset by legal troubles. No worries, Damian. Wine fugitives are always welcome at our table.

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