Update 3/1: Information about the finale dinner at One Fifth and a cocktail pop-up at UB Preserv has been added to this article.
By any measure, Southern Smoke has become one of Houston's premier food events. Chris Shepherd's one day festival attracts top culinary talent from across the country and raises a lot of money for charity — over $1.3 million in four years.
Now, Shepherd and team have launched a spring edition of Southern Smoke. Instead of a one day bash, the week-long event will feature a series of guest chef dinners and a citywide steak night sponsored by Texas beef purveyor 44 Farms. Southern Smoke Spring will take place from Sunday, April 14 to Thursday, April 18; proceeds will benefit the Southern Smoke Foundation, which provides emergency financial assistance to people in the restaurant industry.
“We’re really fortunate to work in an industry that enables us to give back,” Shepherd said in a statement. “I love cooking with my friends, and I love cooking with them even more when we’re raising money to take care of our own. Southern Smoke Spring will give our guests the opportunity to spend more time with our visiting chefs than is possible during the festival. Instead of one bite, you’ll get multiple courses and a lot of conversation. Each dinner will be a celebration—of friendship, great food and wine and community. Let’s do this!”
Tickets for the guest chef dinners go on sale March 5 via the Southern Smoke website. Here's the schedule:
Sunday, April 14: Steak with Aaron Franklin at Georgia James. One week after Texas' most famous pitmaster publishes a cookbook devoted to steak, he will host what a press release calls "the ultimate steak dinner" at Shepherd's Montrose steakhouse. Attendees will also receive a signed copy of Franklin Steak. $350.
Monday, April 15: Dinner with chef Jamie Malone at UB Preserv. Like Shepherd, Malone is a member of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chef class of 2013. The three-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Midwest owns The Grand Café and Eastside Restaurant in Minneapolis. She'll demonstrate "her modern interpretation of classic French cuisine" with a dinner at Shepherd's Montrose restaurant. $200.
Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17: Citywide steak night. At least 20 top Houston restaurants will serve steak dishes featuring 44 Farms beef during this two extravaganza. Participants include most of the chefs in the HOUBBQ Collective that contributes to Southern Smoke. They include: Beaver's, Brennan's, Cafe Annie, Quattro at the Four Seasons, Goodnight Charlie's, Coltivare, Hugo's, Xochi, The Pass & Provisions, Kata Robata, The Original Ninfa's on Navigation, Uchi, Tris, and all four of Shepherd's restaurants.
Wednesday, April 17: Bar Takeover with Dave Arnold at UB Preserv: For one night only, one of the country's most inventive culinary minds will pop-up behind the bar at UB Preserv. Arnold, known for his work at acclaimed New York cocktail Booker and Dax and inventions such as the Searzall, will serve cocktails from his bar Existing Conditions. Walk-ins are welcome, so expect a crowd.
Thursday, April 18: Finale dinner with Jamie Bissonnette and Chris Cosentino at One Fifth: To wrap up the week, Shepherd has invited two of the country's most-acclaimed chefs, both of whom will be cooking in Houston for the first time, to join him for an epic meal at One Fifth. Bissonnette is the chef and co-owner of Boston restaurants Toro, a tapas bar, Coppa, an Italian enoteca, and Little Donkey, a global tapas restaurant; he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast in 2014.
Cosentino is best known for Incanto, the San Francisco restaurant devoted to charcuterie and whole animal cooking that he operated for 12 years. Currently, he owns Cockscomb in San Francisco, Jackrabbit in Portland, OR, and Acacia House at Las Alcobas, a hotel in Napa Valley. He won season four of Top Chef Masters, raising over $140,000 for the The Michael J. Fox Foundation. $250.