May in Houston means two things: an end to daytime patio dining as the summer heat kicks in and, in happier news, the return of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, in which we honor the top talent in the Houston restaurant and bar industry.
We asked a panel of industry insiders to submit their picks for the people and places that are leading Houston's culinary scene. They represent both previous Tastemaker Awards winners and people who know the best of what's going on around town. Then the panels selected winners in every category, except for Best New Restaurant, which will be determined by readers in a bracket-style competition in May.
Those categories include Rising Star Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Sommelier of the Year, Bar of the Year, Brewery of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year. You can view the full list of all of the nominees here.
The program culminates in a party on May 18, 7-10 pm, where we will honor the nominees and announce the winners. We'll sample bites from some of the nominated chefs and sip cocktails made by our bartender nominees with spirits from our presenting sponsor Tequila Herradura.
New for 2016, we are offering early admission to anyone willing to pay a wee bit more. That ticket price, to get in 30 minutes early, is $60. General admission is $50, and a special young professionals ticket (35 and under) is $40. (Yes, we will be checking ID’s!) More complete event details can be found here.
Also new this year, we have listened to our attendees and promise you will know exactly who the winners are. Renowned chef Bryan Caswell will serve as the emcee and will preside over a short ceremony to bestow honors on the Tastemaker Award winners.
So buy your tickets now, and we’ll see you on May 18. Between now and then, we will celebrate all of the nominees in a special editorial series, so stayed tuned.
CultureMap network editor in chief Jennifer Chininis contributed to this article.