The Nitty Gritty

A who's who of Houston chefs & Matt Schaub "Kiss My Grits" for Young Texans Against Cancer

A who's who of Houston chefs & Matt Schaub "Kiss My Grits" for Young Texans Against Cancer

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Matt and Laurie Schaub with Jason Gould Photo by Claire Learned/Last Night Pics
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Winning grits chef Seth Siegel-Gardner with his team Photo by Claire Learned/Last Night Pics
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Young Texans Against Cancer board members Photo by Claire Learned/Last Night Pics
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Randy Rucker presents his dish to judge Jay Ducote. Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Second-place chef Jeramie Robison with Drew Zimmerman Photo by Claire Learned/Last Night Pics
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Celebrity judge Matt Schaub discusses a dish with his wife, Laurie. Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Seth Seigel-Gardner's winning kimchi grits Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Rucker's instant grits and eggs were an unlikely hit. Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Anyone who thought grits were a one-trick pony learned a thing or two on Thursday night at the first-ever "Kiss My Grits" Gulf Coast Throwdown by Young Texans Against Cancer at Winter Street Studios.

As guests played Lone Star dress up and sipped on "John Daly" cocktails (like an Arnold Palmer, except dangerously alcoholic due to the Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka), 10 of Houston's best chefs created grits-centric dishes that ranged from the classic to the unconventional.

The panel of judges — including this writer, Houston Chronicle food writer Greg Morago, Jay Ducote and celebrity judge, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub — sampled dishes like a classic shrimp and grits from Ouisie's Table's Elouise Adams and a duo of Singaporean grit congees from Randy Evans of Haven.

After all the votes were tallied, the overall winner was Seth Siegel-Gardner of Kata Robata, whose kimchi grits with pickled ramp were as flavorful as they were creative and beautifully presented. Jeramie Robison of Cinq and Randy Rucker of Bootsie's tied for second with their more traditional takes.

Robison offered a perfectly cooked grouper and a poached quail egg over jalepeño grits, while Rucker, who proudly boasted that he used instant grits, earned a surprise win with his comfort breakfast dish of grits mixed with a scrambled egg mousse, a touch of dashi and a hint of maple syrup in a mason jar.

Third place among the judges and first place according to the crowd was Cyclone Anaya's Jason Gould, who created a bacon, herb and cheese grit cake with a delicious arugula and apple salad.

"Kiss My Grits" also served to celebrate YTAC's 10th anniversary, and did it with flair, featuring a totally sold-out crowd of over 350 and raising $45,000 to spread cancer awareness.