Foodie News

Cooking up some competition: Two chef throwdowns turn up the Iron Chef heat in Houston

Cooking up some competition: Two chef throwdowns turn up the Iron Chef heat in Houston

News_Janice Schindeler_Best of Decade Food_Monica Pope_chef
Monica Pope

So Top Chef Texas skipped over Houston. Don't fret: If you're looking for some hot culinary competition there are two contests over the weekend pitting chefs against one another for kitchen glory.

On Saturday, the Westside Chef's Showdown gets underway to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association and show off the culinary prowess of Houston's west side. The LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch event is free for all comers and includes live music, cooking demonstrations and kids’ activities, but with the purchase of a wristband for $20 ($10 for kids) guests can taste the competing dishes made by more than 30 competitors, like Las Alamedas, Ooh La La Sweets, Hasta La Pasta and Carmelo's Italian, plus treats from area food trucks.

Cheese is the featured ingredient for the 2011 competition, and a judging panel that includes Bootsie's Ben Rabbani and Houston Food Crawl's Hilary Hayden will select one overall winner.

The Houston regional of Texas competition Chefs Under Fire takes place on Sunday at the Rice University East Servery from 6:30-9:30 p.m. For $35, guests can watch four chefs including Azuma's Harold Wong and defending champion Christina Lee of Austin's Central Market to prepare a dish onsite using secret ingredients revealed Iron Chef-style just before the competition. Guests will also enjoy door prizes, bites from Rice University Dining and Whole Foods and complementary beverages from sponsors Fall Creek Vineyards, Hahn Family Wines, Saint Arnold Brewery, Smart Water, Tenuta San Leonardo, and Zuccardi.

Judges include Monica Pope of t'afia, David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern and Hugo Ortega of Hugo's, and the Houston winner will move on to the finals in October to face champions from the Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin/San Antonio regionals. Only one will be crowned the Chefs Under Fire champion and win a weeklong vacation to Cabo San Lucas.