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Rodeo Best Bites

The Houston Rodeo's best bites: Red velvet Twinkies, short ribs galore or bacon waffle — what's your favorite?

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RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
Haven chefs Allen Duhon, right, and Randy Evans took first place for their wild boar chili Frito pie.  Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
Bud Royer and team Royers Cafe celebrate another people's choice award.  Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
Annie Rupani of Cacao & Cardamom poses with her first place dessert Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
Chocolate Pizazz won first place in the audience voting.  Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
Brooklyn Athletic Club owner Shepard Ross poses with his team.  Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
The Reserve Grand Champion wine is Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2010. Pictured: Joe Van Matre, Show Vice President; R.H. “Steve” Stevens Jr., Show Chairman of the Board; Mick Schroeter; Greg Szajna; Christina Juarez, Joel Cowley, Show President; Sam Ray, Winery Relations Committee Chairman Photo credit: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
The Grand Champion wine is Marchesi Antinori Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri DOC Superiore, 2009. Pictured: Joe Van Matre, Show Vice President; R.H. “Steve” Stevens Jr., Show Chairman of the Board; Barbara Jurbala; Gabe Chiocca; Joel Cowley, Show President; Sam Ray, Winery Relations Committee Chairman Photo credit: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
Chef Kiran Verma took third place for her bison burger. Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
Chef Kory Clemens poses with team Katch 22.  Photo by: Brian Tafelmeyer
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
RodeoHouston Best Bites 2014
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014
Rodeo Houston Best Bites 2014

Rodeo season kicked off Sunday night with the 10th annual RodeoHouston Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition. While almost 5,000 people sampled food and drink from 82 restaurants and hundreds of wineries, a panel of "celebrity" judges from a variety of media outlets sampled the food offerings to determine winners in a variety of categories. 

As the judges weighed the merits of how a red velvet Twinkie compared to white chocolate bread pudding, the attendees lined up to sample some of the city's highest profile restaurants. Crowd favorites like Killen's Barbecue and Royers Round Top Cafe saw long lines, but, in general, people were able to get whatever they wanted quickly, even prized dishes like the lobster tacos from Memorial favorite Jonathan's the Rub.

 Short ribs proved to be the night's unofficial featured ingredient. 

Of course, attempting to sample all of the food would be impossible. Even with the small portions, the organizers noted that a person would consume eight pounds attempting to do so. 

Short ribs proved to be the night's unofficial featured ingredient. In addition to Killen's smoked beef ribs, Glass Wall, the Royal Sonesta Hotel and others all highlighted the protein. 

Although it didn't find favor with the judges, Eleven XI served my favorite dish: Smoked tomato soup with bacon waffle. On the dessert side, Ooh La La Dessert Boutique's fruit-filled white chocolate bread pudding stood out among the mostly chocolate-based offerings.

In the end, familiar names and familiar flavors ruled the day. Haven took the top spot for its long-celebrated wild boar chili Frito pie. Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant earned "Reserve Champion" status for cheese-filled meatballs.

Here are all of the winners:

Tasty Traditions Award: Mommas Meatballs from Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant

Rookie Award: Chocolate Truffles from Chocolate Punch

Showmanship Award: 1st place, Catering to Your Taste Buds; 2nd place, Mister French's Gourmet Bakery

Trailblazing Appetizer/Entree Award: 1st place, Wild boar chili from Haven; 2nd place, Mommas Meatballs from Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant; 3rd place, Bison burgers and French fries with chaat masala from Kiran's

Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese/Dessert Award: 1st place, Pineapple/Habanero chocolate from Cacao & Cardamom; 2nd place, White chocolate bread pudding from Ooh La La Dessert Boutique

Best Bites Popular Choice Award: 1st place, Chocolate Pizazz; 2nd place, Royer's Round Top Cafe

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