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Major barbecue festival brings an Australian flair to Houston — and chef competition

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Staci Davis
Radical Eats chef Staci Davis. Photo by Joel Luks
Chef Soren Pedersen
Soren Pedersen, formerly of Sorrel Urban Bistro. Photo by Kimberly Park
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Jason Gould of Cyclone Anaya's. Photo by Matt Callahan
Susie Jimenez Food Network Trenza restaurant Houston
Susie Jimenez of Trenza. FoodNetwork.com
Staci Davis
Chef Soren Pedersen
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Susie Jimenez Food Network Trenza restaurant Houston
Hermann Square Park - City Hall
Get Directions - 900 Smith Street Houston

Things are heating up for Celebrate Australia, the VIP party at this year's Houston International Festival that takes place Thursday May 1 at Hermann Square Park in front of City Hall. As CultureMap first reported back in March, organizers have enlisted some of Houston's highest profile chefs for a friendly competition of barbecue vs. barbie.

Fittingly for iFest, the chefs are bringing a variety of international flavors to the competition. People hoping for smoked brisket and pulled pork should look elsewhere.

Ten chefs are set to compete at the event. In addition to previously announced participants like Eleven XI's Kevin Bryant and Cyclone Anaya's Jason Gould (an actual Australian), a couple of new Houstonians have joined the party in the form of Trenza's Susie Jimenez and Bob Iacovone of Fish & The Knife. Here's the full list of chefs and dishes:

Kevin Bryant, Eleven XI: Jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped pork shank with heirloom tomato creamed corn

Donald Chang, Nara: Spicy Korean pork ribs stew

Jason Gould, Cyclone Anaya's: Mountain pepper-rubbed grilled lamb loin with raisin chutney

Susie Jimenez,  Trenza: Spiced pork ribs with papaya chipotle barbecue sauce

Soren Pedersen, Upcoming Danish restaurant: Gulf prawns with achiote and avocado

Bob Iacovone, Fish & The Knife: Sake-marinated pork rib with sweet heat sauce and Creole coleslaw

Joe Gerardi, Fleming's: Thai marinated filet skewers served with an Asian vegetable and soy nut slaw  

Staci Davis, Radical Eats: Barbecue brisket on sweet potato waffle

Patricia Alvarez-Burdette, Mr. Peeples: Bourbon baby back ribs with apple slaw

Dwayne Carrington, Fiesta Mart: Aussie Outback barbecued lamb breast

A panel of media judges that includes Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, 790 AM morning show host Lance Zierlein, Houston magazine publisher Peter Remington, Houston Press food critic Kaitlin Steinberg and me will evaluate the entrants and declare who wins the bragging rights. 

The event will benefit the Houston Festival Foundation’s year-round arts and education programs that reach up to 900,000 students in the Greater Houston area and beyond.

iFest sponsor Fiesta is providing Lone Star Legacy Beef, seafood and other animal proteins for the competition. CultureMap is a media partner of the event. 

The $75 tickets include food, drinks and live entertainment from the Down Under Band and FrenetiCore Dance Company. Only 250 tickets will be sold — you might want to act fast.

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