Fluff Bake Bar's post-flood renovations may have removed most of its seating, but chef-owner Rebecca Masson still wants to share her friend's talents with Houstonians.
Instead of "Dinner With My Friends," Masson — affectionately known as the "Sugar Hooker" for her baking prowess — has launched a new pop-up series called the Thursday Night Take Over that's more casual and more affordable than a formal sit down dinner. She's invited a number of top chefs from around the country to participate in the monthly pop-ups, but for the kick-off on February 22 she's keeping things closer to home.
Chris Shepherd, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Underbelly, Hay Merchant, and One Fifth, will appear at Fluff. Although the menu is still TBA, Masson says Shepherd may use the event as an opportunity to preview a dish or two from UB Preserv, the restaurant he's opening in April that will be an evolution of Underbelly.
"I’m very excited about this new series, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better to kick it off than Chris Shepherd,” Masson said in a statement. “All of these chefs are magical, and I want people in Houston to have a chance to experience their food in a fun and unique way. We won’t have the restrictions of a seated dinner, and I think it gives the chefs an opportunity to play around and try some new things – all in the name of a very important cause.”
The rest of the roster includes Dallas chef John Tesar (Knife, Knife Burger) — who will return to Houston after a sold out Dinner With My Friends appearance — and some of the chefs that traveled to Houston to participate in Indie Chefs Week: Christine Rivera (Galaxy Taco, San Diego); Richie Nakano (IDK Concepts, San Francisco); Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins (El Jardin, San Diego); and Matthew Gaudet, (Superfine Food, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts).
Speaking to CultureMap, Masson adds that she wanted to capture the casual, come-as-you-are feel that's made her Saturday morning bake sales so successful. The Thursday night events will allow diners who couldn't commit to a three-hour dinner (or a $125 ticket) to have the opportunity to sample a chef's dishes.
"We did a ramen pop-up with Justin Justin Carlisle (Arden and Red Light Ramen, Milwaukee)," Masson says. "I think people liked the ease of coming at any time during the night."
Those who want a slightly more formal experience may purchase one of the fours seats at the chef's counter for $20. Choose from either a 6 pm or 7:30 pm, and the $20 goes towards the night's bill. Wine and Saint Arnold beer pairings will also be available.
Best of all, 10 percent of all proceeds will benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program. Here's the full roster:
- Feb. 22: Chris Shepherd, UB Preserv, Houston
- March 8: Christine Rivera, Galaxy Taco, San Diego
- April 12: Justin Brunson, Old Major, Denver
- May 10: John Tesar, Knife Dallas, Dallas
- June 14: Richie Nakano, IDK Concepts, San Francisco
- Aug. 9: Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, El Jardin, San Diego
- Sept. 13: Aaron Hoskins & Sarah Simmons, Columbia, South Carolina.
- Oct. 11: Tim Maslow, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Nov. 8: Matthew Gaudet, Superfine Food, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
- Dec. 13: TBA