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.