An impressive roster of Houston's best chefs will join forces for a one-night only event that's sure to be one of 2015's most talked about culinary events. Dubbed the "Houston Culinary All-Stars," the December 6 dinner will raise money to offset medical expenses incurred by Liz Fenton, a local dining enthusiast who's known for her prodigious appetite, eclectic tastes and generous spirit.
Underbelly chef/owner Chris Shepherd will host the event, and he will be joined by fellow luminaries who will each serve one family-style course (Fenton's favorite way to eat): Adam Dorris (Pax Americana), Manabu Horiuchi (Kata Robata), Ronnie Killen (Killen's Steakhouse, Killen's Barbecue), Hugo Ortega (Hugo's, Caracol, Backstreet Cafe), Ryan Pera (Coltivare, Revival Market), Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan (The Pass & Provisions) and Justin Yu and Karen Man (Oxheart).
Pastry chefs Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar) and Philip Speer (formerly of Uchi) will handle dessert. Sommelier Justin Vann (Oxheart, Public Services) will offer wine pairings. The menu is still up in the air, but expect a mix of greatest hit dishes like Killen's barbecue beef ribs and Shepherd's Korean fried chicken, with a couple of one-offs unlikely to be seen, or tasted, ever again.
Organizer Jenny Wang tells CultureMap that she approached Shepherd about hosting a fundraiser after she realized that Fenton, who has been suffering from a rare neurological disorder called transverse myelitis for over a year, was struggling with the financial pressures from both her medical expenses and time away from work. With the James Beard Award winner on board, Wang and co-organizer Lea McKinney didn't have much trouble recruiting the other chefs to pitch in.
Fenton is only 33, but she's made an indelible mark on the culinary community. Her appetite is legendary; I once watched her polish off 2/3rds of Kenny & Ziggy's massive Zellagabetsky before giving up as the sandwich began to get soggy. She still had room for a bowl of ice cream after.
Additionally, she's always willing to lend a hand to others in need, playing a key role to help organize fundraisers on behalf of bartender Linda Salinas, pastry chef Jodi Stevens and the annual Valentines for Veterans event. Now that she's facing the prospect of a lengthy treatment at M.D. Anderson, the time has come for others to help her.
With only 120 seats available at $300 each, the event will likely sell out quickly. Tickets may be purchased at Fluff Bake Bar starting Tuesday (cash only).
Thanks to underwriting by F.E.E.D. TX co-owner Lee Ellis and other sponsors, all $36,000 raised will go directly to Fenton. Those who are unable to attend may consider contributing via the GoFundMe page Wang has set up, which has already raised an additional $28,000 in only five days.
The usually boisterous Fenton has been keeping a low profile since the fundraising kicked off, but she did offer one indication that all this support has helped raise her spirits.
For the tweets, RTs, donations, efforts & well wishes, thank YOU. 💛 Gonna do my damndest to hold up my end of this & get well, stay strong.— liz,liz,liz (@married2food) November 14, 2015