How do you attract donors to a benefit for the Youth Development Center in the Fifth Ward? It may help to tell them that the after-school academic program for at-risk kids in first through sixth grades is improving students' skills. Last year, 100 percent of first grade participants have improved their independent reading skills. But a more selfish but no less important reason is to give is attendance at Bon Vivant Houston.

Subtitled "A Culinary Experience to Remember," the event is just that. On March 27, diners gathered at the Royal Sonesta Hotel for prix-fixe meals cooked by many of Houston's most sought-after chefs. For fan boys and girls, it's the perfect way to get to know a chef better—every dish is cooked tableside for an intimate group of 10. But that doesn't mean meals were any less formal an affair than they would normally be: La Table's famous heritage chicken, appropriately carved à la table, was presented just as it is at the restaurant, for example.

The event raised $200,000 for the Youth Development Center, and satisfied numerous bon vivants.

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