Four times a year, StarChefs.com picks a culinary destination and searches out the best up-and-coming chefs that are redefining a city's dining landscape.
This year the website (the Internet's oldest and most respected culinary community) has set its sights on Houston, with over a dozen local chefs earning a prestigious Rising Star Award to be handed out at the StarChefs.com Rising Star Revue Gala at The Four Seasons Hotel Houston on March 17.
"We were excited to finally make it to Houston — our visit was long overdue," said Will Blunt, managing editor of StarChefs.com. "We discovered such a tight-knit chef community whose efforts, plating concepts, and attention to quality mirror the standards of the country’s foremost dining scenes, without losing its Texan style.”
Among the Rising Stars winners are the acclaimed duo from Kata Robata, Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi and Seth Siegel-Gardner. After his Kata Robata tasting, one of over 60 around the city, Blunt told CultureMap he was extremely impressed by the food coming out of the kitchen there.
Other Rising Stars awardees are Branch Water Tavern's David Grossman, Jeramie Robison of Restaurant CINQ at La Colombe d'Or Hotel, Randy Rucker for Bootsie's Heritage Café and Catalan's Chris Shepherd, who just announced an upcoming departure to open his own restaurant, Underbelly.
Bootsie's received a second award for Chris Leung, who won the Rising Stars Award for Pastry Chefs along with Vanerin Kuch of Tiny Boxwood's.
Jamie Zelko of Zelko Bistro won Rising Star Sustainability Chef, a special award that "celebrates a chef who has placed sustainability at the heart of his/her culinary philosophy." Haven's Randy Evans earned the Rising Star Community award, for chefs with deep community roots who participate and lead other chefs in community outreach and volunteering.
The Rising Star Host Chef Award (which recognizes a chef that runs a hotel's food and beverage program in addition to a restaurant) goes to Quattro's Maurizio Ferrarese, while Sean Beck of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe won the Rising Star Sommelier Award and Anvil's Bobby Heugel earned the Rising Star Mixologist honors.
All these chefs were recognized as excelling in their fields while under the age of 40 and with less than 10 years experience as executive chefs.
The Rising Star Restaurateur Award was given to Bryan Caswell for his concepts Reef, Stella Sola and Little Bigs. Another "senior" award, the Rising Star Mentor award, will be voted on by Rising Stars winners and will be announced at the gala.