Foodie News

A farmers market showdown: Top Houston chefs battle — with a secret ingredient

A farmers market showdown: Top Houston chefs battle — with honey

Food Day Chef Throwdown Chef Greg Gordon
Greg Gordon shows off his winning dish of sweet potato, roasted corn and fig relish with grilled bok choy, smoked eggplant and a honey vinaigrette arugula salad served atop crispy, chewy grilled bread. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Farmers market ingredients honey figs and kale
Market ingredients included honey figs and leafy greens. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Roshni Gurnani, from left, Rob Frias, Greg Gordon and James Ashley
Roshni Gurnani, from left, Rob Frias, Greg Gordon and James Ashley at the Food Day Chef Throwdown at City Hall Farmers Market. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Gracie Cavnar, from left, Laura Spanjian and David Leftwich
Gracie Cavnar, from left, Laura Spanjian and David Leftwich at the Food Day Chef Throwdown at City Hall Farmers Market. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Chef Roshni Gurnani and the secret ingredient – honey!
Roshni Gurnani and the secret ingredient: Honey! Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Chef Rob Frias
Rob Frias served a sweet potato lyonnaise with masala beneath a wilted green salad with roasted habanero dressing, honey-candied figs and goat cheese infused with red wine and blueberries. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Market patron supporting Food Day
A pretty patron shows her support for Food Day. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Group shot with judges and chefs
The judges and chefs at Food Day Chef Throwdown at City Hall Farmers Market. Photo by Jenna White
Food Day Chef Throwdown Chef Greg Gordon
Food Day Chef Throwdown Farmers market ingredients honey figs and kale
Food Day Chef Throwdown Roshni Gurnani, from left, Rob Frias, Greg Gordon and James Ashley
Food Day Chef Throwdown Gracie Cavnar, from left, Laura Spanjian and David Leftwich
Food Day Chef Throwdown Chef Roshni Gurnani and the secret ingredient – honey!
Food Day Chef Throwdown Chef Rob Frias
Food Day Chef Throwdown Market patron supporting Food Day
Food Day Chef Throwdown Group shot with judges and chefs

Food Day is a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies, which was established in 2011. Thousands of community events take place throughout the country and Food Day hit Houston's city hall this week.

Now in its third year, the Food Day Chef Throwdown at City Hall Farmer’s Market has become an annual affair that celebrates Food Day and the abundance of local produce. Houston chefs who embrace the philosophy of “Eating real, from seed-to-plate” are chosen for the throwdown, according to officials from Houston Food Day organizer, Recipe4Success Foundation. The group was founded in 2005 by Houstonians Gracie and Bob Cavnar to combat childhood obesity via a comprehensive seed-to-plate education program in collaboration with area chefs, gardeners and nutritionists in area schools.

 Competition was fierce at the market, with all chefs utilizing honey as the not-so-secret, secret ingredient. 

To date more than 20,000 students have been able to experience the program.

Competition was fierce at the market, with all chefs utilizing honey as the not-so-secret, secret ingredient as a way to call attention to the importance of bees to our food systems, and the alarming decline in bee populations worldwide.

A group of judges including last year's winner chef Kiran Verma selected chef Greg Gordon from La Vista as the winner of the Throwdown for his dish of sweet potato, roasted corn and fig relish with grilled bok choy, smoked eggplant and a honey vinaigrette arugula salad served atop grilled bread.

Chef Rob Frias  from Gladstone Taverns LLC served a sweet potato lyonnaise with masala beneath a wilted green salad with roasted habanero dressing, topped with honey-candied figs and goat cheese infused with red wine and blueberries.

Chef James Ashley from Bare Bowls Kitchen created sweet potato “tornados” fried in a chestnut flour batter and complete with a dipping sauce of fresh honey butter.

Chef Roshni Gurnani from the Art Institute (also known for her TV appearances on Hell’s Kitchen and Chopped) served a honey and Indian-spiced bread pudding topped with honey kale butter and two sauces — arugula honey chutney and a honey roasted red pepper coulis.