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The Master Chefs are coming! Mysterious Houston chef lures a major international food event to town

Philippe Schmit presents Master Chefs of France
Schmit presents at the Master Chefs of France conference in Las Vegas.  Philippe Schmit/Facebook
Philippe Schmit and Jean-Louis Dumonet master chefs of France
Schmit with MCF president Jean-Louis Dumonet Philippe Schmit/Facebook
Master Chefs Conference of France
Schmit reports that the chefs are looking forward to visiting Houston.  Philippe Schmit/Facebook
Philippe Schmit presents Master Chefs of France
Philippe Schmit and Jean-Louis Dumonet master chefs of France
Master Chefs Conference of France

At last, celebrated chef Philippe Schmit can reveal the project that's kept him from pursuing his next restaurant. The Master Chefs of France will hold the 51st annual meeting of its United States and Canada branch in Houston June 6 through June 9, 2015.

Schmit spearheaded the effort to bring the meeting to Houston and he can't wait to show off his adopted hometown to his colleagues. "The conference is a chance for Master Chefs to get together and discover a new city," Schmit tells CultureMap. He explains that it's a way for Houston to say "this is a culinary town, and we want to be part of it."

Although Schmit is currently Houston's only member of the society, he has nominated Philippe Verpiand of Etoile and David Denis of Le Mistral for induction to the society. They'll have to write a letter (in French, obviously) to the society to explain why they're worthy of induction. "It took me a year to write the letter. You have to be very creative," Schmit notes.

 Schmit makes it clear that he doesn't want the event to be about him. He wants to show Houston to his colleagues and promote French cuisine.  

In addition to the letter, a chef's resume has to stand out as someone who has promoted French cuisine in America. A chef's food "has to be classic, not too fusion or avant garde," Schmit says. American chefs will also participate in the dinners and other events. Schmit makes it clear that he doesn't want the event to be about him. He wants to show Houston to his colleagues and promote French cuisine in Houston. 

Since the event is more than a year away, Schmit and his event planner are still working on the schedule, but the itinerary will include a tour of NASA, lunch at the Culinary Institute LeNotre and a trip to Killen's BBQ. Presumably, Schmit will allow them to skip the line. 

He's also working with the mayor's office to designate June 8 as Master Chefs of France day in Houston. 

When Schmit made his presentation at the conference, many chefs had traveled to the event from France to celebrate the U.S. organization's 50th anniversary. The president of the French society has already promised to come to Houston, and Schmit thinks his presence will help make the event in Houston the best attended one ever. 

Will high-profile celebrity chefs like Daniel Boulud and Hubert Keller make the trip? Schmit isn't making any promises, but he's planning to make personal appeals to the chefs. 

"It's a lot of work, but it's very exciting," he says.

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