Houston’s culinary scene seems to largely fly under the national radar, but it looks like there's a new Top Chef in town. Or two.
It’s true —pastry chef Rebecca Masson, a.k.a. the Sugar Hooker, and Vanarin Kuch from Tiny Boxwood’s are two of the contenders in the upcoming season of Top Chef Just Desserts. Houston's dynamic duo and 12 other candidates — including a Dallasite and Amanda Rockman, who's repping Chicago but was raised in Katy — will strut their sugar stuff in front of a tough judging panel. The season begins airing Aug. 24 on Bravo.
Do Masson or Kuch have what it takes? Can they out-sweeten, out-pudding, out-brulee-la-la the opponents? We sure hope so — the winning chef will receive $100,000 from KitchenAid, plus a feature in Food & Wine magazine and a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Cayman Cookout.
Bravo says it has designed an extra-difficult, uber-creative set of challenges — “from fairytale showpieces and edible room décor to high-class gingerbread houses and carnival delights.” And you might recognize a few of the guest judges too: Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz from the Beastie Boys, "the cast" of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, renowned pastry chef Francois Payard and celebrity chef Cat Cora.
Kuch is a Houston up-and-comer, the child of Cambodian refugees who attended the Art Institute of Houston. He worked with Bryan Caswell and Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Bank before stints at Hotel ZaZa, Rice University and lately Tiny Boxwood's. Kuch was one of two Houston pastry chefs recognized in 2011 as a StarChefs.com Rising Star.
Masson brings a solid resume to the contest. She has sweetened the kitchens at Vic & Anthony’s, Catalan, Stella Sola, Ibiza, Perry’s and *17. But it’s much easier to taste her work now that she’s behind the dessert case at Revival Market. But she had one significant disadvantage on Top Chef — for the entirity of the filming, she had a hot pink cast covering a broken wrist. Could she have won it all with one hand tied behind her back? Stop by for some of her famous Fluffernutters, magical macarons, puddings, pies and pastries to see if you can guess.
Just don’t ask Masson or Kuch about the Top Chef details — their lips are contractually sealed. We hope, though, that she’ll at least join us for a watch party here and there, perhaps one stocked with her famously addictive sweet treats.
It’s been a year since Houston chef Bryan Caswell dazzled us as a viable contender on the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. We’re proud to have two more Houston kitchens spotlighted.