PaperCity Magazine

September 2017 - Houston

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Page 129 of 195

128 Jackson Hicks — Houston's most revered caterer, party planner, and holder of the rulebook of manners and decorum, the man at the helm of most every swank Houston event for more than three decades — quietly closed his datebook at the end of last year, easing out of the social swirl and into retirement. There is indeed much to be mused over, as the Prince of Parties has served heads of state, European royalty, and political leaders. With so many extraordinary events under his belt and now more time on his hands, Hicks is considering putting pen to paper to reminiscence about his colorful career. But don't expect a tell-all. Ever the gentleman, Hicks once told Texas Monthly's Mimi Swartz, "I never gossip about my clients. Part of the privilege of being a fly on the wall is that flies don't talk." Relaxing on the burgundy velvet couch in the living room of his early-20th-century Greek- Revival home in the historic Westmoreland District, he says of a book possibility, "I haven't really considered the exact format. But I have some things I'd like to say. After 35 years, there are events that people are interested in." Hicks' discretion, perfectionist ways, and gracious comportment have earned him best- friend status not only with the city's swans but also with the presidential Bush family. He annually celebrates former President George H.W. Bush's birthday with the family, and he and his partner, Milton Townsend, are regulars at the Bush family compound in Kenebunkport, Maine. His firm, Jackson and Company, was the caterer for Jenna Bush's Crawford Ranch wedding in 2008, and annually serves the 2,000 guests that attend the Barbara Bush Celebration of Reading fund-raiser. "Jackson was and is the most generous of people," Barbara Bush says. "The luncheons and receptions he has donated to literacy are unbelievable. He did Jenna's wedding at George and Laura's ranch where a storm blew everything over, and he raced all night to get replacements up." Fans can thank Barbara Bush for the prevalence of Jackson and Company's heavenly strawberry shortcake. It's her favorite dessert, and if he is catering for the Bushes, you can count on that confection at dinner's end. Crossing party lines, the shortcake was on the menu when Governor Ann Richards tapped Hicks to cater the 1991 dinner in Austin for Queen Elizabeth. From the early days, Jackson and Company jump-started the Houston era of the celebrity caterer, along the way expanding Houston's party oeuvre. "When we started there were so many things that didn't occur to people that they could do with entertaining," he says. "No one really thought of doing really large seated dinners outside of a hotel or the country club. No one thought of doing dinner for 400 in the backyard … We just took the position that if you want it, we'll try to do it." THE PRINCE OF PARTIES RETIRES HIS CROWN AFTER 35 YEARS SERVING ROYALTY OF ALL RANK, JACKSON HICKS SLIPS OUT OF THE KITCHEN. SHELBY HODGE SAVORS A TASTE OF HIS GLORY. Dominique de Menil, Jackson Hicks, at the Grand Opening of The Menil Collection, 1987 Jackson Hicks eases out of the social swirl into retirement. JENNY ANTILL CLIFTON

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