Shelby 's Social Diary

Bellies bulging, foodies give CultureMap's Last Chef Standing competition a tasty thumbs up

Bellies bulging, foodies give CultureMap's Last Chef Standing competition a tasty thumbs up

News_037_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_winners_Alex Bremont_David Guerrero_Sarah Rufca
Alex Bremont , David Guerrero , Sarah Rufca Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_012_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Carlos Vicente_Holly Cassard
Carlos Vicente , Holly Cassard Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_045_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Robert Del Grande_Rawad Semaan_Susan Bennett_Brad Ralph_Ryan Savoie
Robert Del Grande , Rawad Semaan , Susan Bennett , Brad Ralph , Ryan Savoie Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_040_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Denise Furlough_Darrell Bass
Denise Furlough , Darrell Bass Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_006_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Jessica Risley_Adrienne Joseph_Kristen Majewski
Jessica Risley , Adrienne Joseph , Kristen Majewski Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_046_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Gillian Richter_Daniel Lindenberg
Gillian Richter , Daniel Lindenberg Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_032_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Emily Hammer_Wesley Wilder_Emily Hoops Sanders
Emily Hammer , Wesley Wilder , Emily Hoops Sanders Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_038_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Karen Labuca_Willie Nwanguma
Karen Labuca , Willie Nwanguma Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_033_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Aristotelis Trikilis_chef_Sullivan's
Aristotelis Trikilis Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_035_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Caesar Lee_Adrea Gordon
Caesar Lee , Adrea Gordon Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_031_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Katy Mayell_Amy Popp
Katy Mayell , Amy Popp Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_009_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_John Sheely_chef_Mockingbird Bistro
John Sheely Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_029_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Kelli Kickerillo_Todd Forester
Kelli Kickerillo , Todd Forester Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_025_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Maurizio Ferrarese_chef_Quattro
Maurizio Ferrarese Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_020_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Earl Mitchell_Cleverley Stone
Earl Mitchell , Cleverley Stone Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_017_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Chef Junnajet "Jet" Hurapan_Blu
Junnajet "Jet" Hurapan Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_014_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_John Sikhattana_chef_Straits
John Sikhattana Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_002_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Samira Salman_Kristy Bradshaw
Samira Salman , Kristy Bradshaw Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_030_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Abby Griffith_Sarah Walters_Glinda Doskocil
Abby Griffith , Sarah Walters , Glinda Doskocil Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News_037_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_winners_Alex Bremont_David Guerrero_Sarah Rufca
News_012_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Carlos Vicente_Holly Cassard
News_045_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Robert Del Grande_Rawad Semaan_Susan Bennett_Brad Ralph_Ryan Savoie
News_040_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Denise Furlough_Darrell Bass
News_006_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Jessica Risley_Adrienne Joseph_Kristen Majewski
News_046_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Gillian Richter_Daniel Lindenberg
News_032_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Emily Hammer_Wesley Wilder_Emily Hoops Sanders
News_038_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Karen Labuca_Willie Nwanguma
News_033_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Aristotelis Trikilis_chef_Sullivan's
News_035_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Caesar Lee_Adrea Gordon
News_031_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Katy Mayell_Amy Popp
News_009_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_John Sheely_chef_Mockingbird Bistro
News_029_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Kelli Kickerillo_Todd Forester
News_025_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Maurizio Ferrarese_chef_Quattro
News_020_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Earl Mitchell_Cleverley Stone
News_017_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Chef Junnajet "Jet" Hurapan_Blu
News_014_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_John Sikhattana_chef_Straits
News_002_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Samira Salman_Kristy Bradshaw
News_030_Last Chef Standing tasting_April 2012_Abby Griffith_Sarah Walters_Glinda Doskocil

By the time Quattro's chef Maurizio Ferrarese had served several hundred Texas Akaushi meatballs and Mockingbird Bistro's chef John Sheely had depleted his supply of pork belly with seared scallop on sweet potato mousse, no one attending CultureMap's inaugural Last Chef Standing competition had room for another bite.

Of the 300 guests filling the Hotel ZaZa ballroom, we would say that most of them were delightfully stuffed after sampling gourmet bites from some 16 leading restaurants and cupcakes from Whole Foods.

"This is the most successful large multiple restaurant event we've been to," said David Aldrich, who worked the room with plate in hand. "The price is reasonable and the food is delicious."

 "We're sampling food from places that we would not have tried before."  

The competition began several weeks ago with an on-line bracket battle that concluded on Monday. Alto Pizzeria and chef Ryan Savoie took top honors as the Whole Foods People's Choice champion in the Internet voting. Monday night, Sullivan's Steakhouse and chef Teli Trikilis won the popular on-site vote for his chili-cured beef tenderloin with truffle mac 'n' cheese. The judges, however, bestowed top honors on Samba Grille and chef David Guerrero for his ceviche mixto with white fish, shrimp, calamari, octopus, corn, aji amarillo lime juice and sweet potato.

"Awesome," commented Laurel Douglas as she surveyed the bustling ballroom where Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Messina Hoff and others served liquid samplings paired with the chef dishes. Clearly relishing the event, her dining buddy Susan Baker said "We're going to tell only our really, really good friends about this event for next year."

Guests swooned over Hotel ZaZa's Monarch Restaurant (first runner-up against Alto Pizzeria) offering of Meyer lemon cured yellowtail with seabeans and quinoa. They salivated over Ava's crepinette of trout  with crab, scallop and asparagus and over Blu's spice-rubbed, charred rare tuna with citrus soy and sizzling oil.

And who could resist Valentino's fried caper crepe with scallop and chive butter in sundried tomato sauce or The Grove's house-cured beef with bone marrow foie gras mousse?

"Awesome," commented Laurel Douglas as she surveyed the bustling ballroom. 

As guest Jasmine Aldrich noted of the various culinary experiences available on this night, "We're sampling food from places that we would not have tried before." 

Leading the judging pool that sampled it all from Gigi's Asian Bistro dumplings to Liberty Kitchen's salmon was Sarah Rufca, CultureMap associate editor and foodie czar. Radio and TV foodie personality Cleverley Stone, author John DeMers, Houston Press food critic Katharine Shilcutt, Houston Chronicle food writer Greg Morago, MyTable founder Teresa Byrne-Dodge and celebrity guest Houston Texan Earl Mitchell rounded out the judging panel. 

A portion of proceeds from the evening benefit Houston Food Bank and Houston Public Media.

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