Thursday, October 01, 2015

High lunch

People speak of high tea. Well, I had “high luncheon” today (and I so wish I’d taken a picture because the presentation was skillful). A friend brought me lunch—chicken salad made with tarragon and lemon, smoked salmon rolled around a seasoned cream cheese filling, and a salad of dark greens with roasted peaches and blue cheese. Dessert was small strawberry tarts with whipped cream—and I don’t usually eat dessert. I poured wine, and on this lovely fall-like day we lunched on the deck, with Sophie occasionally trying to snatch our food—she didn’t succeed.

The story behind this lunch is as interesting as the food was good. Heather Hogan (now Heather Hogan Holt—since last Saturday, but that’s another story) was an intern in the TCU Press office at least 15 years ago. She went on to work at Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich when they opened a branch downtown, and when they began to eliminate positions and people she was one of eight survivors—but she could see the future. To stay with Harcourt, she’d have to relocate to some unappealing places…and she didn’t want to leave Texas. Publishing didn’t have much future for her—low pay, precious little chance of advancement.

But she had a cooking history. As early as the age of ten, she’d been attempting Julia Child’s recipes. She says the results were probably fairly awful, but her parents were tolerant. So looking for a new future, she turned to food. Even in bad times, she figured, people would go out to eat. She went to the Cordon Bleu School in Austin and then worked in a winery in the Hill Country. Great place for tourists, not much social life for a single girl in her late twenties. She came back to Fort Worth.

Melinda, from TCU Press, and I met her for lunch, early after her return, at Lili’s Bistro, one of my favorites—and Heather loved it. Next thing I knew she was cooking on the line there. Then to Live Oak, where they serve good food and better music. Next her dream job: kitchen manager at the Presbyterian Night Shelter. She loved helping the homeless people, meeting the challenges of creating a meal out of donated food, etc. But to her great disappointment, it didn’t work out. Now she’s on the line lunch time at the Modern Art Museum.

The homeless remain a cause dear to her heart. For a long time she had a friend she knew only as “Old School,” but she met him only on the street and tried to help him turn his life around. Today she said there’s a vacant, dilapidated building on Hemphill that would make a great halfway house. She can see asking men to use their skills to repair it against their rent in the future.

So there are two passions in her life—food and the homeless. And the third is her new husband, Morgan Holt. They were married Saturday, Sept. 26 at a small chapel in the mountains near Jackson Hole. I wish them every happiness. Heather is a remarkable person, and she deserves the best life can give her.

And thanks, Heather, for the elegant lunch.

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