For the Love of Coconut

The coconut tree has been called the ‘tree of life’ because of its multifarious uses- the leaves for matting, weaving, and hatching; the fibrous husks for making rope; the oil for soap, shampoo, and cosmetics; and, of course, the edible part of the coconut for ingredients in countless sweet and savory recipes.

Health benefits of coconut have garnered much attention in recent press. Last year India, one of the top coconut producing countries, experienced a 130% increase in consumption of “tender coconut.” The coconut water found in tender coconut is gaining popularity because its fat free, naturally sweet and electrolyte-rich. In other words, it’s the perfect energy drink. In addition to the elixir-like coconut water-the fleshy, edible part of the coconut, also known as “coconut meat” is much healthier than other fruits. Coconut meat contains less sugar and more protein than popular fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges. As well, the health benefits of coconut oil include stress relief, weight loss, increased immunity, relief from kidney problems, diabetes, and maintaining cholesterol levels to name a few (I can already hear lines forming at Whole Foods). The coconut, it seems, is quickly achieving, rock star status.

I appreciate all of coconut’s non-food uses and its healthy benefits but I love coconut for one reason, I love to cook with it. From Thai-styled Massaman curry with coconut sauce to a sprinkle on my cupcakes, coconut provides a subtle nutty sweetness that I adore. Below is a recipe that I especially like, popular in the Northern region of India called “Coconut Ladoo.” It’s a simple recipe that’s doesn’t require a lot of time. Translated literally, “Coconut Ladoo” means “balls of coconut.” Combined with condensed milk, and powdered sugar these melt-in-your-mouth treats are truly unique.

Photo courtesy of Philip Shone Photography

Coconut Laddoo Ingredients:
3 cups fresh dry coconut (shredded)*
¾ can condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugarHow to make Coconut Laddoo:
Boil ¾ can of condensed milk in a pan.
When it starts boiling, add 2 cups shredded coconut and mix well.
When the milk gets absorbed in coconut, add the powdered sugar.
Stir continuously on medium flame until mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Remove and make small balls (about the size of a table tennis ball).
Roll the balls in the remaining coconut.
Refrigerate Coconut Laddoos for 30 minutes before serving.
*Depending on taste, add 1 level tsp of cardamom powder to shredded coconut.

Shredded coconut is also a wonderful garnish to any type of leafy green salad composed with fruit and nuts. Recently, we created a Toasted Coconut and Blood Orange Salad as the salad component to a four course Tapas platter for a poolside party. We dressed the salad with a Coconut Rum Vinaigrette. The salad was a perfect sweet and tangy blend and paired beautifully with the other courses.

Coconut black tea and coconut flour are two more wonderful coconut products. Blended with tropical coconut, coconut black tea is a hearty and tasty twist on classic black tea and is making its presence known among tea drinkers for its subtle sweetness. For extra nuttiness, coconut black tea can also be served with almond milk.

Another relatively new coconut-based product is coconut flour. Although not readily available in every supermarket, coconut flour is receiving growing acclaim. Prior to the availability of coconut flour, those with certain dietary restrictions were forced to forego many desserts and baked goods. Alas! Imagine the tragedy of a life lived devoid of chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins and German chocolate cake. Since coconut flour is 100% gluten free, those with wheat allergies are finding coconut flour to be the perfect substitute. As well, since coconut flour already has a mildly sweet taste from the naturally occurring sugar from the coconut meat, baked goods need less sugar added. Now that coconut flour has arrived on the market, it has become much more than a substitute for traditional flour; it’s become an essential dietary element for a growing number of health-conscious consumers.


We have been busy elves here at Legendary Events during the 2009 holiday season and have been fortunate enough to have many events on our December calendar.

One of the exciting design and floral events that we produced on the 1st of December was a Client Appreciation Party for the St. Regis. The St. Regis Astor Ballroom is gorgeous with its ivory painted mill work, custom chandeliers, silk embroidered fabric walls and the silver leaf ceiling. This architecture makes our job easier (and harder); while we have great bones to work with, we have a high standard to live up to.

photo courtesy of

The ballroom was draped off into 6 sections with gorgeous sheer white fabric. The focus of the space was placed in the center of the room under the magnificent hand made crystal chandelier. A tree full of holiday red berries was created by our floral director, Jeanna Graham and our infamous creative director, Steve Welsh. Surrounding the tree were over 50 glass containers filled with berries, amaryllis, ruby water and, of course, candles.

photo courtesy of

The entrance to the ballroom was draped with sheer white fabric then tied back with magnolia leaf and large sweet pine cone garland and finished with a luscious red ribbon. A large silver urn filled with over 300 red roses sat on this gorgeous mahogany table. The entrance alone was enough to take your breath away!!

Overall, this turned out to be a wonderful and gorgeous evening!!


photo courtesy

From The St. Regis Hotel and A Meal to Remember to The Ritz Carlton and Around the World in Eighty Days, A Legendary Event provided unique décor for two marquee Atlanta Gala events this weekend. On Friday night, 500 guests gathered for “A Meal to Remember” benefitting The Senior Citizens of Metropolitan Atlanta. Incorporating the chairs’ vision, the tables were draped in rich Chocolate Dupioni linen and topped with alternating fuchsia and orange roses, peonies, and Gerber Daises. A Legendary Event Floral Designer Jeanna Graham described the look as “chic, contemporary and classic.”

The following night at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead, The Shepherd Center Foundation celebrated their annual “Legendary Party” under the direction of Gala Chair Cyndae Arrendale. This year, the theme was “Around the World in Eighty Days.” After the 450 guests received their “passports,” they crossed a large wooden boardwalk and were greeted by Phileas Fogg and other characters straight from the pages of the Jules Verne classic.

The décor in the main ballroom featured a handmade patchwork hot air balloon and a 12’ x 32’ map from the late 1800’s. Each table was pin-spotted and centered with a one-of-a-kind vignette composed of old clocks, hat boxes filled with pavéd roses, and nautical enhancements. President and owner Tony Conway said, “We are so honored to have been selected to provide the design and floral for these two worthy causes.”

Tony’s “Tips from the Pros” featured in current issue of Delta Sky Magazine

(Photo by Dawn Brewer)

If you’re flying this Thanksgiving season, be sure to check out some of Tony’s Recession-Busting Tips featured in the current issue of Delta Sky Magazine. Instead of a sit-down dinner, Tony suggests inviting friends over for a low key “game night” where one couple brings the wine, one brings the game, and one brings the dessert. This gives the host a chance to pick up a wonderful wood-roasted gourmet pizza or to try his or her own hand at pizza-dough making. He also recommends incorporating a multitude of candles to help set the mood and suggests offering a signature drink in lieu of going to the expense of a fully stocked bar.


Atlanta’s own Ryan Seacrest hosted the “Hearts and Hands” Charity Gala Saturday night to benefit The Ronald McDonald House. Six hundred and fifty guests attended this black tie affair held at The World of Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company was also the presenting sponsor for this exciting new event. “American Idol” season six finalist Melinda Doolittle performed two sets of music to the sold out crowd and A Legendary Event provided the catering and floral décor for this much anticipated event.

President and Owner of A Legendary Event, Tony Conway remarked, “It was so great working with the Ronald McDonald House team. This particular organization does so much for families and it was wonderful to have an opportunity to support their efforts.” The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities provide a home away from home for families with seriously ill and injured children who must travel to receive treatment at Atlanta area children’s hospitals. To learn more about The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House go to:

A Legendary Event was also a sponsor for Ron Clark Academy’s Gala Awards Celebration. The Ron Clark Academy teamed up with Great American Financial Resources, Inc. to present and host the inaugural Great American Teacher Awards that celebrates excellence in education. A sold out crowd of 400 were in attendance at The W Midtown Atlanta on Friday night. Conway said, “We’re so fortunate to have been selected by The Ron Clark Academy for provide the design work for this Gala. We are so impressed with Ron Clark and what he’s done for the education industry.” The Ron Clark Academy is committed to celebrating exemplary teaching that is challenging, innovative, and creative. For more information on The Ron Clark Academy go to:

A Legendary Event Featured in Today’s Peach Buzz

(Above photo courtesy of Rich L. Eldrege and AJC Staff; Below is an excerpt from today’s Atlanta Journal and Constitution)

As always, the annual Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS Dining By Design benefit was a stylish outing for attendees Monday night at Atlanta Decorative Arts Center in Buckhead. This year, Buzz was invited to sit at Atlanta caterer Tony Conway’s A Legendary Event table. Conway’s executive chef Lincoln Stevens and executive pastry chef Charles Barrett created the lavish menu for the evening.

A Legendary Event’s creative director Steve Welsh told us he was going for “romantic and comfortable” with his candle-lit woodsy theme complete with trees and real moss that covered the table. We happened to be seated next to Legendary Events floral director Kim Vasil who helped to create the beautiful setting (”We completely washed all the moss used on the table so utensils could be placed on it at dinner,” she whispered to us about the crazy amount of prep work that went into the table).
“We liked the idea of creating a quiet little getaway for our guests this year,” Welsh explained. DIFFA attendees always peruse Welsh’s creation each year as he attempts to top himself after creating a table made out of chocolate a few years ago at the fund-raiser. Joked Welsh: “People still talk about that table. It was a lot of fun but I don’t think I would do it again. The dry cleaning bills were too high!”

“We liked the idea of creating a quiet little getaway for our guests this year,” Welsh explained. DIFFA attendees always peruse Welsh’s creation each year as he attempts to top himself after creating a table made out of chocolate a few years ago at the fund-raiser. Joked Welsh: “People still talk about that table. It was a lot of fun but I don’t think I would do it again. The dry cleaning bills were too high!”
Click here for more picture of last night’s DIFFA event:

Tony Conway honored by CHRIS Kids

On Saturday night, over 400 guests gathered at the Buckhead Grand Hyatt for the 9th annual CHRIStal Ball to benefit CHRIS Kids. Tony Conway, owner and president of A Legendary Event, was recognized for his philanthropic contributions to CHRIS Kids with a CHRIStal Vision Award. “I just want to say that I’m so honored to be this year’s recipient along with Price Waterhouse Coopers. This has been such a wonderful, heart-warming event―I can’t think of a better organization than CHRIS Kids to be affiliated with,” Conway said. In addition to Mr. Conway, Global Accounting Firm Price Waterhouse Coopers was awarded the CHRIStal Vision Award for outstanding leadership and service to children, youth, and families in the state of Georgia with special emotional, residential, and mental health needs.

WHITE HOT COOL slideshow from Open Hand’s Party in the Kitchen

Please enjoy the “WHITE, HOT, COOL” slideshow from last week’s “Party in the Kitchen” featuring 17 of Atlanta’s Top Chefs, co-chaired by Sally Dorsey, Tony Conway, and Todd Tautfest. Photography and slideshow by Laura Stone of ArtStar Photography.


Last night, approximately 300 guests attended “Party in the Kitchen,” at the Mason Murer Main Gallery to benefit Open Hand. Guests enjoyed delicious cuisine from seventeen of Atlanta’s Top Chef’s including A Legendary Event’s Executive Chef Lincoln Stevens, Dogwood’s Shane Touhy, Gary Mennie of Livingstons, Peter Kaiser from Twist, Rathbun’s Kevin Rathbun, Craft’s Kevin Maxey and Shaun Doty of Shaun’s.

Some of the menu items included Bacon Molasses Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Foie Gras Mousse, Grilled Calamari with Peeled Pea Salad, traditional European Bangers and Mash, and a plethora of delicate and delicious desserts. Framed iconic images, stainless steel chef stations, white carpet runners and modern lounge furniture exemplified the party’s “White, Hot, Cool” theme.

Live auction items included travel and entertainment packages, fine dining experiences, and one-of-a-kind items such as eco-vintage jewelry by Mark Edge and an acoustic guitar autographed by the South African grunge-pop band Seether.

Party in the Kitchen Co-chairs Sally Dorsey, Tony Conway, and Todd Tautfest were overjoyed with the turnout. “I was so honored to be asked to co-chair this event. Working with Sally and Todd is always a wonderful experience and it touches my heart to see so much support for such a worthy cause,” Tony Conway said.

Proceeds from “Party in the Kitchen” directly benefit Open Hand―a nonprofit organization that provides Comprehensive Nutrition Care for a diverse population of men, women and children with unique nutrition needs. For more information please go to

Key New Positions at A Legendary Event

A Legendary Event is pleased to announce the addition of Gregory Lofton as company Controller. Lofton comes to Legendary from Dickey Publishing, where he was head of accounting and finance. Prior to that, he held various accounting and finance positions in the Southeast. Lofton holds a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from UNC Wilmington, NC. Mr. Lofton is currently working on the completion of his M.B.A.

Charles Barrett has also been announced as our new Executive Pastry Chef. Prior to coming to Legendary, Barrett was Executive Pastry Chef at The Cobb Galleria. As well, he trained extensively under acclaimed Pastry Chef Abby Ryland. Mr. Barrett is excited to continue his pastry design career at A Legendary Event.

Leah Stephens has accepted the position of Catering Sales Manager. Leah comes to us from her most current position as Catering Sales Manager for Divine Events. Prior to that, she was Catering Sales Manager at Cobb Performing Arts Center.

Sophia Lin has been promoted to Design and Catering Sales Manager. Lin has worked at A Legendary Event for approximately three years. She has been an integral member of the design, sales, and production teams. Lin has extensive industry experience along with a B.S. degree in Hospitality Management from Cornell University.

Legendary’s Summer Intern Jessica Porter will take on the new role of Junior Event Manager. She did an outstanding job with the company over the summer months and A Legendary Event is looking forward to her continued growth.

Tony Conway, Owner and President of A Legendary Event said, “I’m so excited about the new promotions and additions to our talented crew.”