Thirteen of Houston's best chefs assembled to present their best version of roast pig, with the winner earning bragging rights, a totally awesome trophy and an upcoming trip to Japan with the Houston Sushi Club.
Despite a muggy heat that neither a breeze nor the air conditioning inside could stifle, crowds lined up at the large tent for the varied bites, which included a grilled dashi-brined pork with cherry blossom sticky rice and red miso sauce from Kata Robata, pork tamales by Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse, a cool pork wrap from Mike Potowski of Benjy's on Washington and a perfectly portioned sandwich of mortadella-stuffed porchetta on olive bread from Seth Siegel-Gardner of the forthcoming The Pass & Provisions.
The people's choice award went to Ronnie Killen, whose expertly roasted pork satisfied even after he ran out of tamale wraps.
While a few chefs decorated their booths with the roasted heads of the piggies sacrificed for the event, the cutest pigs on display were either the giant pork-filled brioche pig by Michael Pellegrino of Max's Wine Dive (complete with eight baby brioche piglets) or the pink pig sugar cookies supplied by neighboring Dessert Gallery.
A pork-only event would have been fine, but Kata Robata really impressed with incredible bites going out to the crowd, from soba noodles and Kobe beef banh mi bites to sashimi and shrimp tempura on a stick over cheese grits.
The judges — Greg Morago of the Houston Chronicle, Houston Press's Katharine Shilcutt, My Table's Teresa Byrne-Dodge, Pat Sharpe of Texas Monthly and Underbelly's Chris Shepherd — named Ryan Pera of Revival Market the winner for his Americanized take on a Korean bibimbap, a smoked pork rice bowl with local greens and quail egg. The people's choice award went to Ronnie Killen, whose expertly roasted pork satisfied even after he ran out of tamale wraps.