Hurricane Harvey may have pushed back some of this fall’s food events, but the next two months offer tempting experiences almost every weekend through Thanksgiving. Whether a person wants to hobnob with James Beard Award-winning celebrity chefs or sip carefully selected fine wines, this roster should suit almost any taste.
Best of all, every event listed has some sort of charitable component. After all, what is the point of eating well if one is not also doing some good?
The Butcher’s Ball - October 15
This meaty event is stepping things up in its second year. In addition to a culinary competition featuring 18 chefs — participants include Monica Pope (Sparrow Bar + Cookshop), Ryan Hildebrand (FM Kitchen & Bar), and Bobby Matos (State of Grace) — the Butcher’s Ball will feature butchery demonstrations by Bryan Butler (Austin’s Salt & Time) and Richard Knight (Hunky Dory), panel discussions on culinary topics, and live music headlined by Dale Watson and His Lone Stars. Proceeds from a silent auction will benefit Foodways Texas and Urban Harvest, while proceeds from ticket sales will benefit area farmers and ranchers affected by Harvey.
New this year, the Le Boucherie vs. La Matanza will feature two teams of chefs competing to break down and utilize as much of a whole pig as possible. Attendees to this portion of the event will have the option to assist the chefs in their work.
Location: Rockin’ Star Ranch, Brenham. Tickets: $100. Boucherie vs Matanza: $50 supplement. Round-trip transportation: $30 supplement.
Southern Smoke - October 22
For the third year in a row, Chris Shepherd has gathered two of the nation’s top pitmasters (Aaron Franklin and Rodney Scott), a few of his fellow James Beard Award winners (Ashley Christensen, John Besh, etc.) and some of Houston’s best chefs (Ryan Pera, Justin Yu, etc.) for a barbecue-themed bash. New this year are VIP areas at Hay Merchant and Blacksmith with premium wines and spirits. An affiliated silent auction has already gone live with a wide range of memorabilia, fine wine, trips, and culinary experiences.
For this year's edition, Southern Smoke has partnered with Legacy Health to help hospitality industry workers who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Those who wish to apply for grants can do so here.
Location: 1100 Westheimer. Tickets: General Admission, $200; VIP, $350.
Chefs Unmasked - October 28
Speaking of all-star chefs raising money for hospitality industry workers, a very special event is coming to downtown’s Four Seasons Hotel. Local James Beard winners Chris Shepherd and Hugo Ortega will be joined by celebrity chefs Richard Sandoval and Michael Mina as well as acclaimed local chefs Alejandro Di Bello (Four Seasons Hotel) and Danny Trace (Potente) for a one-night-only event that will benefit the Greater Houston Restaurant Association’s Houston Hospitality Employee Relief Fund.
In keeping with the theme, diners are encouraged to bring their own masks. ABC13’s Katherine Whaley will serve as emcee and will help facilitate a silent auction.
Location: Four Seasons Hotel. Tickets: $250.
Depressed Cake Shop - October 29
Over two dozen of Houston’s top chefs and bakers are participating in this event that’s designed to raise awareness for depression and mental health issues. In addition to a bake sale featuring cookies, macarons, bars, cakes, and cupcakes, attendees will be able to bid on special grey cakes prepared by these top talents. Participants include Jillian Bartolome (Aqui), Adam Dorris (Presidio), Martha de Leon (Pax Americana), and organizers Jody Stevens (Jodycakes).
Location: Underbelly. Tickets: Free to attend, bake sale items vary.
Urban Harvest Sunday Supper - November 5
Weights + Measures chef Richard Kaplan will host this dinner that benefits the Urban Harvest Farmers Market. Attendees will feast on a dinner created by market regulars Ara Malekian (Harlem Road Texas Barbecue), Martha de Leon (Pax Americana), Ryan Hildebrand (FM Kitchen & Bar), Kevin Naderi (Roost), Peter Garcia (El Meson), and Dylan Murray (Local Foods). Those chefs will use vegetables and proteins from local farms including Loam Agronomics, Plant It Forward Farms, Blue Heron Farms, and more.
Location: Weights + Measures. Tickets: $150.
La Nuit du Caviar - November 7
Indulge in an evening of luxury at this event, which features a menu of 10 caviar-laden dishes created by chef Danny Trace, along with truffles, champagne, and vodka. Proceeds will benefit The Astros Foundation and The Astros Harvey Relief Fund.
Location: Potente. Tickets: $200.
Iron Sommelier - November 9
Oenophiles won’t want to miss this event that features 14 of Houston’s top sommeliers competing to display their expertise. This year’s competitors include Samantha Porter (Oporto Fooding House), Adele Corrigan (13 Celsius), Matt Crawford (State of Grace), Sam Governale (Emmaline). Proceeds benefit the Periwinkle Foundation, which develops and provides programs that positively change the lives of children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
Location: Houstonian Hotel. Tickets: $200, $225 day-of.
Risotto Festival - November 12
Sample creative and classic takes on risotto at this popular event. Now in its 12th year, competitors include Bryan Caswell (Oxbow 7), Jose Hernandez (Lucienne), and Manuel Pucha (Maison Pucha Bistro). Proceeds will benefit Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, which offers a safe place for children in crisis due to abuse, neglect, or the effects of HIV
Location: Houston Design Center. Tickets: General Admission, $75; VIP, $175.