Tastemaker Awards 2016 Houston
A Taste of Tastemakers

Foodies toast Houston's top restaurant and bar talent at biggest Tastemakers yet

Foodies toast Houston's top restaurant and bar talent at Tastemakers

With 10 delish food stations, bartenders creating cocktails featuring Herradura tequila, and a flock of Porsches to dream over, the annual Tastemaker Awards celebration was the best ever, transforming Asia Society Texas Center into foodie heaven.

More than 750 guests coursed through the stately cultural center rubbing elbows with the city's top chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs. All were eager to learn who had won the coveted nod in nine categories from Tastemakers judges and who had won the CultureMap reader's bracket challenge for Best New Restaurant. Celebrity chef and restaurateur of Reef fame (just to name one of his eateries) Bryan Caswell joined this editor in presenting the awards.

You can read Eric Sandler's report on the winners here.

The awards presentation polished off the evening that was filled with tasty diversions, all played out to the tunes of DJ Special K from 104.1 KRBE. Celebrity bartenders Chris Frankel of Spare Key, Alex Gregg of Moving Sidewalk and Leslie Ross of Canard had guests swooning over their Herradura cocktails while Fluff Bake Bar's Rebecca Masson and Killen's Steakhouse's Samantha Mendoza tempted taste buds with their dessert offerings.

A portion of the proceeds from the Tastemakers Awards was earmarked for Women of Wine, which provided samples of white sangria. And that was just one of the adult libation offerings that included sips from Chloe Wine Collection and beer from Alaskan Brewing Co., while Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino kept guests hydrated.

Adding to the sweet allure of the evening were Lillian Vega of Macaw Confections, who offered samples of her chocolates, and Tiffs Treats which sent guests home with warm-from-the-oven cookies. 

As guests departed, they had a second look at the line-up of Porsches, by this time spotlighted for night drama. Porsche of West Houston sent over a Macan, a Boxter and allowed this editor to drive the splashy new 2017 911 (top down, thank you) from their Katy Freeway location to the Asia Society.

Savoring the evening were Tacodeli principles Roberto Espinosa and Eric Wilkerson from Austin visiting Houston in advance of opening their first location, Shepard Ross and Erin Hicks, Jennifer Caswell, Lilly and Harrison Cullen, Dr. Bradley Eisemann, Racheal Lewis, Nick Scurfield, Michelle Wuerch, and Dan Koo.

Tastemakers Houston 5/16 exterior
More than 750 foodies and CultureMap fans poured into the Asia Society Texas Center for the Tastemaker Awards. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Shelby Hodge, Bryan Caswell, Matt Crawford, Bobby Matos
Shelby Hodge, Chef Bryan Caswell, Best New Restaurant champs State of Grace GM Matt Crawford, chef Bobby Matos.  Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Suzy Pittman, Justin Turner, Richard Kaplan
Suzy Pittman, Justin Turner, Richard Kaplan of Weights + Measures, Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year.  Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16, Richard Knight, Carrie Schroeder
Hunky Dory executive chef Richard Knight, Carrie Schroeder. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Suzy Pittman, Justin Turner, Richard Kaplan
Sweet treats from State of Grace.  Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16  Porsche
Porsche of West Houston provides a line-up of yummy sports cars. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Jennifer Caswell, Bryan Caswell
Jennifer Caswell, Bryan Caswell.  Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16,  Melissa Fuller, Mary Kimmitt, Jessica Hartman
 Melissa Fuller, Mary Kimmitt, Jessica Hartman. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Efan Hsu, Jorge Olivas, Michelle Wuerch, Dan Koo
Efan Hsu, Jorge Olivas, Michelle Wuerch, Dan Koo. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 food
Pax Americana's caviar-topped delights. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Elsa Anariba, Kari Hester, Haley Hester-Ramirez, Ana Lucero
Elsa Anariba, Kari Hester, Haley Hester-Ramirez, Ana Lucero. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Moving Sidewalk
Herradura cocktails from Moving Sidewalk. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Claudia Trevino, Pamela Angeles, Jiin Phan, Sara Trevino
Claudia Trevino, Pamela Angeles, Jiin Phan, Sara Trevino . Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Asia Society Houston
Asia Society Texas Center rocks with 750 Tastemaker Awards partygoers. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16  pours
Beverages flow at the Tastemaker Awards evening. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Tastemakers Houston, 5/16 Bonnie Lee, Eddie Yuen
Bonnie Lee, Eddie Yuen. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 food, Chloe
Chloe provides bubbly and wines for tasting. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Tastemakers Houston 5/16, Shafik Rifaat, Shelby Hodge
Shafik Rifaat, Shelby Hodge arrive in the 2017 Porsche 911 from Porsche of West Houston. Photo by Killy
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 exterior
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Shelby Hodge, Bryan Caswell, Matt Crawford, Bobby Matos
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Suzy Pittman, Justin Turner, Richard Kaplan
Tastemakers Houston 5/16, Richard Knight, Carrie Schroeder
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Suzy Pittman, Justin Turner, Richard Kaplan
Tastemakers Houston 5/16  Porsche
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Jennifer Caswell, Bryan Caswell
Tastemakers Houston 5/16,  Melissa Fuller, Mary Kimmitt, Jessica Hartman
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Efan Hsu, Jorge Olivas, Michelle Wuerch, Dan Koo
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 food
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Elsa Anariba, Kari Hester, Haley Hester-Ramirez, Ana Lucero
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Moving Sidewalk
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Claudia Trevino, Pamela Angeles, Jiin Phan, Sara Trevino
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 Asia Society Houston
Tastemakers Houston 5/16  pours
Tastemakers Houston, 5/16 Bonnie Lee, Eddie Yuen
Tastemakers Houston 5/16 food, Chloe
Tastemakers Houston 5/16, Shafik Rifaat, Shelby Hodge