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    Two events offer public first look at Beale Street Landing

    Jennifer Biggs - The Commercial Appeal -

    Beale Street Landing hosts its first events this week with two fundraisers that are open to the public: "Meat Me in Memphis," featuring 13 local chefs, and ArtsMemphis' annual ArtaFactor party.

    These events are the first opportunity for the public to see the Beale Street Landing project, which will open in spring 2013, said Riverfront Development Corp. communications director Dorchelle Spence. The space is now available for special events.

    "You walk in and it'll blow your socks off," said Karl Schledwitz, chairman and CEO of Monogram Foods. "It's very powerful."

    The $42.5 million riverfront project includes a riverboat terminal, restaurant and park.

    On Thursday, "Meat Me in Memphis" features local chefs preparing dishes with a twist:

    They'll be using Monogram meat products, such as King Cotton bacon, sausage and bologna.

    "Alex Grisanti is doing baby sliders with King Cotton original smoked sausage," Schledwitz said. "Michael Patrick of Rizzo's is doing King Cotton Cajun sausage seafood gumbo, Erling Jensen is doing PEI mussels with King Cotton smoked sausage, diced potatoes, parsley butter and wine."

    And James Gentry of L'Ecole Culinaire is smoking bologna for bologna asada tacos.

    In addition, the chefs will prepare a signature dish.

    Tickets are $125, and proceeds benefit the Monogram Loves Kids Foundation.

    "This is our first fundraising event, and we've already received over $100,000 in sponsorships" Schledwitz said. The foundation makes grants of $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 to children's charities in Memphis, where Monogram is based, and in other cities where it has plants.

    "The plant workers vote on the charities," Schledwitz said

    On Saturday, ArtsMemphis expects about 600 people for the "ArtaFactor: Go With the Flow" party, which wraps up the organization's culinary series. Since June, small dinners featuring lavish meals prepared by local chefs have been held in private homes, with proceeds benefiting ArtsMemphis. Tickets are available for purchase for $75 and include food as well as beer, wine and spirits provided by Budweiser and Buster's.

    "Karen Carrier is doing the food, and it's amazing," said ArtsMemphis president and CEO Susan Schadt. "We've got a full New Orleans oyster bar, miniature mac and cheese, a dessert station."

    Passed hors d'oeuvres also include mini bruschetta topped with prosciutto Parma and figs, New Orleans-style grit cakes topped with shrimp, and brisket with blackberry preserves.

    In each of the past three years, ArtsMemphis has awarded $4 million to arts organizations.

    "Meat Me in Memphis" and ArtaFactor will feature live entertainment, with students from the Stax Music Academy performing at both. The ArtaFactor party will also feature performances by Ballet Memphis, Playhouse on the Square, Artistik Approach and Jesse Frank & The Blues Bandit, featuring Miss Nickki.

    At "Meat Me in Memphis," the entertainment will be provided by all children's groups: Stax, the New Ballet Ensemble and Watoto Performing Arts.


    Meat Me in Memphis

    5:30 p.m. Thursday at Beale Street Landing, on the southern end of the riverfront, between Tom Lee Park and the historic cobblestones. Tickets: $125 all-inclusive; call 901-259-6625.

    ArtaFactor: Go With the Flow

    7 p.m. Saturday at Beale Street Landing. Tickets: $75 all-inclusive; call 901-578-2787.