Go Pig! or Go Home! returns for its third year Sunday at Kata Robata. While ranking Houston's various chef competitions is always tricky, Go Pig is one of the best, thanks to the sheer quantity of high-quality Houston chefs who compete to make the best dish that utilizes a whole suckling pig.
Among the 16 participating chefs are 2012 Grand Champion Ryan Pera (Revival Market, Coltivare), 2013 Grand Champion Ronnie Killen, 2013 People's Choice Award winner Gabriel Medina (Soma), Kaz Edwards (Uchi), Ryan Hildebrand (Triniti) and Richard Knight (Hunky Dory). The result is some of the tastiest food in the city, as each chef tries to one-up the others and impress their host.
In addition to bragging rights, the chefs are helping raise money for The Last Organic Outpost, a charitable organization that generates healthy communities and establishes a local food economy in Houston's under-served neighborhoods through urban farming and farm-based art and education.
Hori-san explains that the event grew out of conversations he had with his chef friends who visit Kata Robata to eat lunch. "I talked to Chris (Shepherd), Seth (Siegel-Gardner) and Justin (Yu). We all agreed we should do something."
While Shepherd and Yu will be attending the James Beard Awards banquet in New York Sunday night, the spirit of the competition lives on in both the quality of the talent that's participating and the mix of Kata's signature cocktails and 8th Wonder Brewery beer that's included with the $95 ticket.
As someone who prepares fish for a living, Hori-san says considers the opportunity to serve pig "an adventure."
Go Pig is about "getting chefs together and letting them cook for people," general manager Blake Lewis adds.
A panel of judges that includes recently hired El Big Bad chef Jonathan Jones, Masterchef winner Christine Ha, Brennan's general manager Carl Walker and two food writers will select a Grand Champion. The 500 or so attendees will select a People's Choice winner. Everyone will have a good time and eat a lot of pork.
Tickets for Go Pig! or Go Home! are still available but selling fast. Buy them online.