Southern Smoke 2019

Chris Shepherd's celebrated Houston food fest reveals star-studded lineup

Chris Shepherd's celebrated Houston fest reveals star-studded lineup

Chris Shepherd Aaron Franklin Southern Smoke
Once again, Chris Shepherd and Aaron Franklin headline Southern Smoke. Photo by Catchlight Photography

No food event in Houston delivers more culinary star power than the Southern Smoke Festival. For its fifth year, host chef Chris Shepherd has tapped his network of celebrity friends to craft a lineup that's the biggest and best yet.

Scheduled for Sunday, October 6, the one-day festival of food, wine, cocktails, and live music features some of America's biggest culinary superstars. This year's lineup returns many of the chefs who have participated in one of the previous four events and adds new talent that more than justifies the ticket prices, which once again are $200 for general admission and $350 for VIP. They go on sale Tuesday, August 6, at noon.

The list of returning chefs stars with Aaron Franklin, the pitmaster and owner of Austin's acclaimed Franklin Barbecue. Other returning chefs include James Beard Award winners Ashley Christensen (AC Restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina), Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix), Pat Martin (Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville, Tennessee), Ryan Prewitt (Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans), Sam Jones (Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, North Carolina), and Stephen Stryjewski (Link Restaurant Group in New Orleans).

This year's out-of-town additions include Adam Perry Lang, the legendary meat expert behind APL Restaurant in Los Angeles; Chris Cosentino, the San Francisco chef who will open Italian restaurant Rosalie Italian Soul in Houston this fall; Adam Bludorn, the former executive chef of Cafe Boulud in New York who will open a restaurant in Houston next year; legendary New Orleans chef Donald Link; Canadian chef Matty Matheson; Sarah Grueneberg, a former Top Chef contestant and the chef-owner of Monteverde in Chicago; and Yehuda Sichel of Abe Fisher in Philadelphia, one of the restaurants that helped inspired Shepherd's One Fifth Mediterranean. 

In addition, Shepherd has dramatically expanded the roster of Houston chefs participating in the event. Instead of cooking as the HOUBBQ Collective and taking turns serving dishes, each chef will have his or her own station and serve continuously throughout the afternoon. The list includes: Erin Smith and Patrick Feges (Feges BBQ), Felipe Riccio (Goodnight Hospitality), Hugo Ortega (H-Town Restaurant Group), Jason Vaughn (Nancy's Hustle), Jonny Rhodes (Indigo), Justin Yu (Theodore Rex, etc.), Lyle Bento (Sambrooks Management), Manabu Horiuchi (Kata Robata), Marcelo Garcia (Eight Row Flint), Martin Stayer (Nobie's), and Trong Nguyen (Crawfish and Noodles).

This year's musical lineup includes a headline performance by Texas musician Charley Crockett, as well as Folk Family Revival's third appearance at the festival. 

While the party and the chefs are what sell tickets, all this work is done to benefit two worthy causes: The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Southern Smoke Foundation, an organization Shepherd started after Hurricane Harvey that provides emergency cash assistance for people in the restaurant industry. To date, the Southern Smoke Foundation has donated more than $1.3 million to both individuals and organizations that assist people in the restaurant industry.