An indefinite shelf life, a dubious ingredient list and a suspiciously square shape has given SPAM a bad name for decades, but Theatre Under The Stars and the Saint Arnold Brewing Company recently teamed up to elevate the canned meat at Houston's first-ever "Saint Arnold's Spam Off."
The event benefited TUTS and highlighted the upcoming production of Spamalot - The Musical, at the Hobby Center May 14-26.
Chefs from Beaver's Icehouse, food trucks Craft Infusion and Phamily Bites, Hollister on Washington, Fat Bao, Reef, Underbelly and Saint Arnold's showed off their skill at the throw-down on Wednesday.
"There was everything from SPAM sushi to smoked SPAM potato salad. I also remember some SPAM tacos and some SPAM cuts that were covered in a coffee-based rub," Sam Byrd, public relations manager for TUTS, explained to CultureMap.
Guests each received a ticket upon entry and voted for their favorite SPAM dish by dropping it into a coconut shell placed on the table of the chef whose dish they liked best.
Craft Infusion won for....well, let's let their culinary masters explain in their own Monty Pythonesque way:
Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh. Stop. What... is your name?
King Arthur: It is 'Arthur', King of the Britons.
Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?
King Arthur: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
Bridgekeeper: Huh? I... I don't know that.
[he is thrown over]
Sir Bedevere: How do know so much about swallows?
King Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know.
Were you king you would also know that, Wednesday Evening the 1st of May year of our lord 2013, Chefs Joe Apa of Rudyards and Troy Witherspoon of Craft Infusion collaborated on a Spam and cheese biscuit sandwich so sublime as to be voted the favorite among those in attendance at this royal gathering.
Said biscuit was comprised of sweet potato dough baked to flaky perfection and filled with whipped cream cheese, Spam seared with Saint Arnold root beer BBQ sauce and crowned with a cucumber, carrot and Serrano pepper summer pils slaw.
No shrubberies or Llamas were harmed during the preparation of this sandwich.
CultureMap editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh took KHOU Channel 11 News behind the scenes at the Saint Arnold brewery to see what dish newly-installed chef Ryan Savoie entered in the contest for this week's CultureMap Moment. Take a look at the video below — we think you'll be righteously shocked by the transformation.
The brewery and TUTS are pairing up again on May 16 for a Saint Arnold Night at Spamalot - The Musical. Tickets start at $44 and include a pre-party at the Saint Arnold Brewery and a school bus ride to and from the Hobby Center.