National Recognition

Culinary superstars pick Houston chocolatier for major national food award

Culinary superstars pick Houston chocolatier for major food award

Annie Rupani Cacao Cardamom
Cacao & Cardamom owner Annie Rupani is an Eater Young Gun. Courtesy photo

A Houston chocolatier is on her way to Los Angeles to receive a major award. Annie Rupani, owner of Galleria-area chocolate shop Cacao & Cardamom, has been selected as one of only 17 Young Guns by national website Eater. 

Now in its fourth year, Young Guns are selected by a national panel of culinary superstars that includes James Beard Award winners like Atlanta chef (and Top Chef judge) Hugh Acheson, Chicago's Rick Bayless and Boston's Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer. More than 700 people were nominated for the awards, which are given to those either under 30 or who have been in the culinary industry for fewer than five years and "show extraordinary promise." 

More than 700 people were nominated for the awards, which are given to those under 30 or who have been in the culinary industry for fewer than five years and "show extraordinary promise."  

Rupani, 26, is one of only two Texans on the list, as well as its only chocolatier. Rachel DelRocco, beverage director at Qui restaurant in Austin, is the other Texan. 

Rupani joins Ryan Lachaine, formerly of Reef and Underbelly, and Felipe Riccio, a bartender at wine bar Camerata who's also cooked professionally at The Pass & Provisions, as Young Guns from Houston.  She tells CultureMap that she was very surprised when she found out she'd be chosen. "It was not expected in any way," she says.

In a profile of her, Eater touts Rupani's unusual path to the culinary world that started with her making chocolates while studying for the LSAT, as well her all-natural approach, as having helped set her apart. 

Rupani says she's looking forward to Monday night's awards party. "It's going to be so cool to meet other people in the industry. I've spoken to Felipe about it. He said, 'go, have a great time.'"

Rupani says she's optimistic that the recognition can help her boost her business through increased online sales. Cacao & Cardamom started as a mail-order concern, but, since the shop opened last year, most people buy the carefully made, elaborately decorated bon-bons at the shop. As the store nears its first anniversary, Rupani says she's looking to add chocolate bars, more beverage options and even gelato-filled bon-bons to her offerings. 

In addition, she hopes to grow the business' physical presence. "I'm definitely looking in the next six months for another store. I want to take Cacaco & Cardamom further" Rupani says. 

Sounds like an ambitious agenda, but that's what makes Rupani a Young Gun.