Feb 8, 2013 | 8:57 am
Something between Cinderella and Sweeney Todd, the Fifth Annual Butcher's Ball is a must-attend weekend for meat lovers concerned with ethics and sustainability. This collaborative festival is a blow-out event featuring 50 Texas culinary talents, but despite the big names in cooking, this one is centered around farmers and ranchers no longer behind the scenes.
This will be a drive for Austinites, as the weekend takes place at Rockin’ Star Ranch in Brenham, about an hour and 45 minutes directly east of the Capital City. It’s a compromise with Houstonians, who also have to drive about an hour and 15, and who make up the majority of the lineup. Visitors from either city can enjoy a road trip out to the country venue, or relax on a $50 round-trip bus, including drinks and snacks. Eat your heart out, Greyhound.
The event kicks off on Saturday, November 12, with a hayride, a farm-to-table dinner prepared by a dozen chefs, and music by unbounded pedal steel player Will Van Horn and the metal-bluegrass Fiddle Witch. The opening bites and following five courses are prepared by pairs of Texas chefs:
Sarah Heard is the only Austin chef on the Saturday lineup, while Dylan McShan travels the farthest, from Marfa. Half of the Saturday chefs are from Houston, and most of the others are from surrounding cities:
The ball itself, on Sunday, is the main event. Most of Saturday's featured chefs are competing for the "Golden Cleaver," alongside 14 other Texas chefs. Jo Chan of Chan Hospitality is visiting from Austin, along with Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats. The “best bite” will be determined by guest voting. There will also be non-competitive programming, like live fire cooking, butchery demonstrations, and panel discussions about sustainable sourcing.
Throughout the weekend, the ingredients are the star of the show. They’re all coming from local Texas makers, such as Marfa Meats (as famous as most ranchers get), Good Thyme Farm (just north of Austin), Whitehurst Farm (local to Brenham), and more.
All proceeds from the weekend will go to Urban Harvest to support its farmers market program, which allows more than 100 local vendors to sell in Houston year-round on Saturdays. The market has lasted 18 years so far, and grown from just 7 vendors, now sourcing goods from a maximum of 180 miles away.
There are several options to buy tickets to Butcher’s Ball Weekend events, including just the ball ($175), just the dinner ($200), and a package of both ($350). There is also a kid's cooking class on Sunday for guests 6 to 17. All tickets are available on Eventbrite.
for your consderation
As locals who’ve visited the chic Conservatory in New York’s buzzy Hudson Yards are aware, the store boasts urbane, elegant looks, accessories, scents, and lifestyle products — all with a sense of “considered luxury” (oh, and the tearoom is not to be missed).
Now, for consideration, The Conservatory is opening a new in tony River Oaks District on Thursday, September 29, marking the third boutique in Texas (Dallas is home to two). Savvy shoppers can browse a spacious, 3,300 square-foot, natural light-filled space home to myriad brands and products that all focus on founder Brian Bolke’s vision of slow fashion, sustainability, shared economy, and innovation.
In keeping with the store’s artful eye, the Thursday opening will also feature an exhibit of large-format abstract painting by noted Dallas artist William Atkinson, courtesy of Erin Cluely Gallery.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Houston community at River Oaks District,” Bolke tells CultureMap. “We have carefully curated our favorite brands and we can’t wait to introduce them to the city. Some exciting new launches as well as long-time favorites of The Conservatory that we know Houston will be excited to discover. Most importantly, I'm confident that Houston is going to embrace our belief in ‘Considered Luxury' — our passion for beautiful products that also make the world a better place.”
Women can pursue city suiting, purses, loungewear, and elevated, innovative looks. Diamond jewelry, baubles, accessory pieces, and even pinky rings abound, as do bath and body products, skincare, fragrances, and candles for that perfect zen.
Men can find hip, urban, comfortable jackets, polos, tops, pants, and shoes — plus slim wallets. Home goods include haute decor items and objects, books and paper wares, and countless gifts.
Brand-conscious buyers can look forward to fashion labels such as Gabriela Hearst, Maison Margiela, and Courréges (all exclusive to Houston), as well as Mugler, Lapointe, Philosophy, Michael Kors Collection, and Brandon Maxwell.
Accessories include Metier, Paul Andrew, and Neous (all exclusive to Houston). Sidney Garber, Mallary Marks, Tabayer, Shihara, Lisa Eisner (all exclusive to Houston) and more can be found in jewelry.
Men’s looks include Maison Margiela, NN07, Aspesi, and Ron Dorff. Scents include Perfumer H, DS and Durga, The Harmonist, Costa Brazil, Susanne Kaufmann, and Frama. Fans of Georg Jensen, Saved Cashmere, and Phaidon Books will be pleased with the home goods collection.
Pushing a fluid, blended approach to brick and mortar and online, Bolke has won high praise for his curated offerings, design, and forward-thinking approach to retail and fashion. (Vogue called his NYC Hudson Yard presence a “true tipping point for retail.”)
Bolke opened his two Dallas “galleries” in Highland Park Village, along with a pop-up in Napa Valley, California. No doubt, Houstonians will consider his “considered luxury” offerings a considerable boost to the local shopping scene.
The Conservatory; 4444 Westheimer Rd., F 100 in River Oaks District. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm and Sunday noon to 5pm. For more information, call 713-299-0903 or visit the official website.