Top Chefs Fight

Houston's best restaurants pull off a wild night of foie gras & vodka GoodPops: Inside Last Chef Standing

Houston's best restaurants pull off wild night of foie gras, vodka

15 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Kevin Bryant, Jenn Char, Eric Kent
Winning chef Kevin Bryant of Eleven XI, from left, Jenn Char and Eric Kent at CultureMap's Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
22 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Angela Lipsey, Romy Mitchell, Tod Eason, Katarina Tehlirian
Angela Lipsey, from left, Dr. Romy Mitchell, Tod Eason and Katarina Tehlirian at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
17 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Randy Evans, Tessa Fairey, Chef Danny Trace
Randy Evans, from left, Tessa Fairey, and Danny Trace at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
20 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Bethany Camp, Ann Massey, Stephanie Macey
Bethany Camp, from left, Ann Massey and Stephanie Macey at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
11 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Dawn Burrell, Chef Monica Pope, Glen Larner
Dawn Burrell, from left, Monica Pope and Glen Larner at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
18 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Haya Levy, Sami Toussi, Colleen Mohnkern
Haya Levy, from left, Sami Toussi and Colleen Mohnkern at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
19 Last Chef Standing June 2013 winning chefs NAME, Kevin Bryant, Roberto Castro
Winning chefs gilbert Angel, from left, Kevin Bryant and Roberto Castre at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
13 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Rachel Good, Chef Chandler Rothbard, Cricket DeWalch
Rachel Good, from left, Chandler Rothbard and Cricket DeWalch at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
1 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Maurizio Ferrarese, Daniel Kalish, Ashton Shockley
Maurizio Ferrarese, from left, Daniel Kalish and Ashton Shockley at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
14 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Greg Austin, Jennifer Chang, Dan McGrew, Soumalee Sengdara
Greg Austin, from left, Jennifer Chang, Dan McGrew and Soumalee Sengdara at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
8 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Courtney Zabowski-Haas, Eric Haas, Marcy de Luna
Courtney Zabowski-Haas, from left, Eric Haas and Marcy de Luna at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
3 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Jody Eisenhardt, Chef Peter Laufe
Jody Eisenhardt and Peter Laufe at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
7 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Michael Pellegrino
Michael Pellegrino at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
5 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Nick Espinoza, Katherine Ross, Carlos Meltzer
Nick Espinoza, from left, Katherine Ross and Carlos Meltzer at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
10 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Tuyet Pham, Rickey Tiet, Thuy Pham
Tuyet Pham, from left, Rickey Tiet and Thuy Pham at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
16 Last Chef Standing June 2013  Lonnie Schiller, Andrew Rentz
Chris Hearne, from left, Lonnie Schiller and Andrew Rentz at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
12 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Taylor Pruet, Amy Chien
Taylor Pruet and Amy Chien at Last Chef Standing. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
15 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Kevin Bryant, Jenn Char, Eric Kent
22 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Angela Lipsey, Romy Mitchell, Tod Eason, Katarina Tehlirian
17 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Randy Evans, Tessa Fairey, Chef Danny Trace
20 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Bethany Camp, Ann Massey, Stephanie Macey
11 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Dawn Burrell, Chef Monica Pope, Glen Larner
18 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Haya Levy, Sami Toussi, Colleen Mohnkern
19 Last Chef Standing June 2013 winning chefs NAME, Kevin Bryant, Roberto Castro
13 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Rachel Good, Chef Chandler Rothbard, Cricket DeWalch
1 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Maurizio Ferrarese, Daniel Kalish, Ashton Shockley
14 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Greg Austin, Jennifer Chang, Dan McGrew, Soumalee Sengdara
8 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Courtney Zabowski-Haas, Eric Haas, Marcy de Luna
3 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Jody Eisenhardt, Chef Peter Laufe
7 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Chef Michael Pellegrino
5 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Nick Espinoza, Katherine Ross, Carlos Meltzer
10 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Tuyet Pham, Rickey Tiet, Thuy Pham
16 Last Chef Standing June 2013  Lonnie Schiller, Andrew Rentz
12 Last Chef Standing June 2013 Taylor Pruet, Amy Chien

Let me just say that there was more tempting food on the table at CultureMap's second annual Last Chef Standing competition than a girl who's watching her waistline oughta try. But that didn't stop this scribe or any of the 400 epicureans packing the Royal Sonesta ballroom from going full throttle across the field of gourmet offerings Tuesday night.

Twenty of the city's top chefs put their best recipes forward in a friendly contest that pitted such contenders as Brennan's chef Danny Trace's Shrimp Remoulade against Max's Wine Dive chef Michael Pellegrino's "bread and butter," a scrumptious foie gras on toast creation. In the end there were only two winners in this second leg of the contest. CultureMap readers had earlier voted Latin Bites and chef Roberto Castre as their fave in the online challenge.

 Local Foods' Gilbert Angel reaped the most affection from the 400 attendees, winning the people's choice award. 

Eleven XI chef Kevin Bryant wowed the professional judges with his creative yellow tail sashimi with smoked seaweed salad and blue corn stone-ground, miso-infused grits with lime soy honey sauce topped with crushed Lays potato chips. A first-place winning mouthful for sure. Although the judges did not announce a second place, Monica Pope's cured smoked and braised pork jowl from Black Hill Ranch served over corn and fennel pudding with crackling and mostarda (a picked fruit mixture) was their next best choice. We'd like to see that one added to the Sparrow Bar + Cookshop menu.

Local Foods' Gilbert Angel reaped the most affection from the 400 attendees, winning the people's choice award for his truffle-infused egg salad sandwich.

One of the several beauties of this evening was the cocktail station accompanying each food site, which meant that no one went thirsty or waited in a line of any sort for libations. VIPs, who bought premium early entry tickets, started the evening with Italian bubbly (Ca' del Bosco Cuvee Prestige) while revelers closed the night out with the popular Tiramisu Pop'tail, a wicked combo of Dripping Springs vodka with hazelnut liqueur accompanied by a GoodPop coffee popsicle for dipping. 

The alcohol infusion led to plenty of playful antics at the Smilebooth where 450 photos were taken at the event sponsored by Cadillac and Ben E. Keith.

As the DJ Gabe Bizonee spun tunes, guests traversed the ballroom where The Grove, The Tasting Room, Vic & Anthony's, Triniti and more beckoned with taste sensations that clearly had this crowd satisfied. Included was Haven's Randy Evans' yummy grillades and grits, a sampling of his new "breakfast for dinner" menu for June.

Among those sampling the top toque fare were CultureMap CEO Alyce Alston, City Council members Jack Christie, Mike Laster and Dave Martin and Metro's Tom Jasien and Russ Frank, all guests of The Clifford Group's Cindy Clifford. Restaurateur Gigi Huang, Mayor Annise Parker's director of external affairs Jenn Char, cookbook author Erin Hicks, restaurateur Lonnie Schiller, Jenny Perez and Christian Capitaine, Alex Griffin and Deborah Kopel Rose and Myles Rose.

Dying for a behind the scenes look? Check out the complete CultureMap video: