And the big Woodlands winner is ... Wine and Food Week's crowd and judgepleasers
The fanfare on entrance by the horn player in Renaissance dress perfectly matched the inner excitement of walking into the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting at The Woodlands' Wine and Food Week. Gourmet bites and wine as far as the eye can see? Dum-da-da-DAAHHHH.
With a dining room that was bigger and less crowded and chaotic than the recent Grand Tasting event in Sugar Land, there was more freedom to choose your own path amongst the 50 chefs presenting creations in miniature and the 500 wines available.
Brennan's, Benjy's, and Quattro, were among the A-list restaurants in attendance, as well as Jasper's, whose crowd-pleasing aged gouda mac and cheese with ham could barely be kept on the table. Le Mistral executive chef David Denis wowed with a rich Hawaiian scallop served on a seashell with a light corn relish and a mango chutney pudding that blew all other dishes out of the water, earning him the Water Crystal Chef of Chefs $5,000 prize.
Also honored: Second-place winner Jeffrey Balfour of Citrus at San Antonio's Hotel Valencia and third-place chef Jason Dady of San Antonio's The Lodges at Castle Hills.
Presenting sponsor H-E-B had the biggest selection of wares, from cheeses to bread to sushi, and a central stage that featured chefs offering live cooking demonstrations and tips.
There was also feverish competition among the desserts, which earned a separate judging. In addition to Rebecca Masson's always-excellent pastries (here, her peanut-butter cookie sandwiches and mini-cupcakes), there were French-style macarons by Green Eyed Susan, cupcakes galore and a raspberry rose vacherin by Capital One Bank “Just Desserts” My Table Award winner Elizabeth Stone of Stone Kitchen Catering.