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Hot young professionals, TV news stars and top chefs mingle at a foodie carnival: When fair food gets inventive

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Culinary Carnival Chase Williams, Jordan Sturdevant, Erica Cochran, Justin Richards
Chase Williams, left, Jordan Sturdevant, Erica Cochran and Justin Richards. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Eleven XI Joe Welborn and Vicki Scarpato
Eleven XI general manager Joe Welborn and fiancee Vicki Scarpato.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Big Eyed Fish Megan Adam Paola Greenleaf
Upcoming restaurant Big Eyed Fish bartender Paola Greenleaf, left, and owner Megan Adams. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Susie Jimenez Trenza
Trenza's Susie Jimenez celebrates her People's Choice victory.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Eleven XI Kevin Bryant Soma Gabriel Medina
Host chef Kevin Bryant, left, with judges' winner Gabriel Medina of Soma. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival El Big Bad Sheridan Fay
El Big Bad bartender Sheridan Fay used liquid nitrogen in her chicken and waffles cocktail.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Jackie Paulino, Morgan Cates
Jackie Paulino, left, with Morgan Cates.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Triniti Greg Lowry Ryan Hildebrand
Triniti chefs Greg Lowry, left, and Ryan Hildebrand.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Eleanor Curry, Cheyenne Campbell
Eleanor Curry, left, and Cheyenne Campbell Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival David Silva
Traci Scott barber David Silva plied his trade on the patio.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Arash Kharat
Arash Kharat gets into the carnival spirit.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Eric Sandler
CultureMap's Eric Sandler stumped attendees with Houston restaurant trivia.  Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Culinary Carnival Chase Williams, Jordan Sturdevant, Erica Cochran, Justin Richards
Culinary Carnival Eleven XI Joe Welborn and Vicki Scarpato
Culinary Carnival Big Eyed Fish Megan Adam Paola Greenleaf
Culinary Carnival Susie Jimenez Trenza
Culinary Carnival Eleven XI Kevin Bryant Soma Gabriel Medina
Culinary Carnival El Big Bad Sheridan Fay
Culinary Carnival Jackie Paulino, Morgan Cates
Culinary Carnival Triniti Greg Lowry Ryan Hildebrand
Culinary Carnival Eleanor Curry, Cheyenne Campbell
Culinary Carnival David Silva
Culinary Carnival Arash Kharat
Culinary Carnival Eric Sandler

What: The Culinary Carnival

Where: Eleven XI Restaurant & Bar

The 411: The spring season of tasting events and chef competitions drew to a close Saturday with the first ever Culinary Carnival. Seventeen chefs from some of Houston's highest profile restaurants competed to serve the tastiest possible food on a stick, while some of Houston's best bartenders served up refreshing libations to beat the heat. Proceeds from the event benefited PULSE, the St. Luke's Foundation that CultureMap recently named one of Houston's Top 10 Young Professional organizations.

Two of the participating restaurants, Big Eyed Fish and Oporto's Midtown expansion, provided attendees with the chance to review restaurants that won't open until August. Other than eating and drinking, the 400-plus attendees who packed the Eleven XI parking lot indulged in carnival games, face painting and a culinary trivia contest.

A panel of media judges selected Soma chef Gabe Medina's Sapporo/miso-braised Kurobuta corn dog as the winner, while attendees chose ceviche on a stick from Trenza chef Susie Jimenez as their favorite. Other popular dishes included a watermelon/mint popsicle from D&T Drive Inn chef Steven Ripley, and frozen gazpacho pops from both Boheme's Rishi Singh and Triniti chefs Ryan Hildebrand and Greg Lowry — anything cool and refreshing to combat the 90-degree temps was a hit. Eleven XI's own Anna Large took the cocktail prize with a twist on the buttery nipple. 

Who: Retired soccer star Brian Ching, Hot 95.7's Sarah Pepper, KHOU anchor Lily Jang, Elizabeth Weiss, Roz and Allen Pactor, KHOU's Courtney Zubowski and Eric Haas, Mark Sullivan, Michael Briggs, Marcy de Luna, Lindsay Pearce, Greg Decker, Robert Tijerina, Andrew Sarofim, Lauren Barrash, and chef Philippe Schmit.

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