Houston chef Chris Shepherd co-founded the Southern Smoke Foundation to help others who work in the food and beverage industry during times of crisis. It's that guiding principle that fuels the annual Southern Smoke Festival, coming up on October 6.
World-class chefs from across Texas and the nation come together in support of the cause, dishing up delectable samples at the feel-good party of the year.
In addition to Shepherd, this year features chefs Aaron Bludorn, Aaron Franklin, Ashley Christensen, Chris Bianco, Chris Cosentino, Donald Link, Erin Smith and Patrick Feges, Felipe Riccio, Hugo Ortega, Jason Vaughan, Jonny Rhodes, Justin Yu, Lyle Bento, Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi, Marcelo Garcia, Martin Stayer, Matty Matheson, Pitmaker Cooking Team Victor Howard, Julio Howard and George Shore, Pat Martin, Ryan Prewitt, Sarah Grueneberg, Sam Jones, Stephen Stryjewski, Trong Nguyen, and Yehuda Sichel.
There will also be live music from Charley Crockett, Folk Family Revival, and The Ton Tons.
But as fun as this party is, it's important to remember the reason behind it all. As Shepherd says, Southern Smoke was created to "take care of our own."
In March of 2019, the Intercontinental Terminals Company fire closed down Monument Inn Seafood Restaurant for 42 days. In operation since 1974, and purchased by Bob and Ann Laws purchased in 1990, the beloved restaurant serves up fresh seafood while overlooking the Houston Ship Channel, just down the street from the historic Battleship Texas, San Jacinto Battleground, and Lynchburg Ferry. When Southern Smoke executive director Kathryn Lott heard about Monument Inn's tragic shutdown, she knew she had to help.
Ride along with Shepherd in his Lexus ES F Sport as he visits with Bob Laws, who recounts the fire's story and how he paid his team of 75 employees (or as he calls them, family), for all 42 days the restaurant was inoperable, thanks to the financial support of the Southern Smoke Foundation. Now Laws is focused on paying it forward, however he can.
Since its founding in 2017, the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund has distributed more than $705,000 to individuals working in the food and beverage industry that are in crisis. The fund has provided assistance for weather catastrophes and industry professionals with medical bills, vehicular accidents, family support assistance, mental health needs, and more.
If you or someone you know works in the food and beverage industry and needs help, apply at SouthernSmoke.org. Buy your tickets now to the fifth annual Southern Smoke, and do good while enjoying some damn good food.
If the Lexus ES F Sport, with its roomy cabin and trunk, looks familiar, it may be because it was featured with an artist at last year's Southern Smoke Festival.
Lexus is a proud partner of Chris Shepherd and the VIP sponsor and Official Vehicle of the upcoming Southern Smoke Festival.