Houston Tastemaker Awards 2021
THE 2021 TASTEMAKER AWARDS

Houston's culinary superstars, food fans, and Bun B toast the 2021 Tastemaker Awards

Houston's food stars, fans, and Bun B toast the 2021 Tastemaker Awards

Tastemakers Houston 2021
Houston hip hop legend and emcee Bun B with the Trill Burgers team. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemaker Awards 2021 Kaitlin Steets AJ Ede
Chef of the Year winner Kaitlin Steets and Rising Star Chef of the Year winner AJ Ede. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Victoria Pappas Bludoorn and Aaron Bludorn, center, with the team from Bludorn. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Lucille's 1913 culinary director Lawrence Walker, Best Startup/Pop-up nominee Dawn Burrell, and Chef of the Year nominee Chris Williams. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Audrey Gow, David Gow, Sarah Foy, and Reece Foy. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Ryan Harris, right, and friend. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Catherine Manterola and Michael Fitzgerald. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Rich Bailey, Reserve 101 owner Sean Fitzmaurice, and Bartender of the Year nominee Josh Alden. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Best pop-up nominee Sasha Grumman, chef Lawrence Walker, and Catherine Manterola. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Street to Kitchen co-owner Graham Painter. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Michael Sambrooks took Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year for Candente. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Squable chef Mark Clayton accepted Wine Program of the Year. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Pastry Chef of the Year winner Drew Gimma of Bread Man Baking Company. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Josh Deleon won Best Pop-up/Startup for Underground Creamery. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Christine Ha accepts Best New Restaurant on behalf of Xin Chao. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Chef of the Year winner Kaitlin Steets accepts her award. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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CultureMap editors Eric Sandler and Steven Devadanam with the Trill OG. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Emily Vitek represented Bar of the Year winner Heights Bier Garten. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Justin Ware and Bartender of the Year nominee Rebecca Burkart. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Striking a pose. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Bun B debuted his Trill Burgers concept at the awards. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Jeff Rogers of Proximo Spirits introduces Bartender of the Year.  Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Bun B served hyped up the crowd. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Cooling off with popsicles from KicPop. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Posing for shots at our special backdrop. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Guests were dapper and stylish. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Chillin' and grinnin'. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Wes Winn (third right) and the Savve team. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
More revelers. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Quinn Hoang and Jonathan Horowitz. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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More than a thousand packed Silver Street Studios.  Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Sponsor Dobel served up tequila. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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The perfect place to imbibe. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Sponsor activations supplied drinks. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Taking a refreshing break. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Guests made a beeline for food, drinks, and spining selfies. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Crystal Hadnott, Jennifer and Ben Williams, Jailyn Marcel. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Bartenders were fast and furious. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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Savvy guests quickly made their rounds. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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A table for two. Photo by Emily Jaschke
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A VIP experience.  Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Taking care of the staff. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
The team from Best New Restaurant nominee 93' Til. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
MAD's smoked eel and apple foie. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Turner's provided wagyu beef tartare. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Acadian Coast served shrimp and grits. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Tastemakers Houston 2021
Tastemaker Awards 2021 Kaitlin Steets AJ Ede
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More than a thousand food fans, restaurant and bar professionals and insiders, and movers and shakers packed Silver Street Studios for CultureMap’s 2021 TasteMaker Awards on July 22.

Houston’s hottest and biggest food event is the crowning moment of our annual, weeks-long program that highlights and celebrates the hottest, most innovative, and most visionary of the city’s culinary and bar scene.

The Tastemaker Awards benefited local charity Lucille’s 1913, the nonprofit organization started by Lucille’s owner Chris Williams, which has made national news for generously feeding locals.

Sponsors who made the night possible were SavveMaestro Dobel Tequila, Stranahan’s Rocky Mountain Single Whiskey, Cigar City Brewing, and Topo Chico. Guests packed the sponsors’ activations, enjoying choice libations and sips before heading to some of the city’s finest food offerings.

And oh, the food. Delectable dishes included:​

  • Candente’s Tex-Mex Ribs
  • Turner’s East Coast Oyster and Wagyu “Oyster
  • Hidden Omakase’s Kinoko Nigiri
  • Acadian Coast’s Seafood Gumbo and Shrimp and Grits
  • Pier 6’s Oysters on the Half Shell
  • Phat Eatery’s Kerabu Prawn
  • Yelo’s Pork Ribs
  • Ostia’s Seasonal Gnocchi
  • Bludorn’s Squash Blossom
  • Tatemo’s Ribeye Taco
  • 93 Til’s Shaved Radishes with Brown Butter Anchovy Almond Tuile
  • Trill Burgers’ (emcee Bun B’s new venture) Smashed Onion Burger
  • MAD’s Smoked Eel and Apple Foie and Huevos Voladores
  • The Original Ninfa's Short Rib Tacos
  • Bread Man Baking Company’s Ciabatta with Sliced Tasso Ham and Persillade Aioli
  • Street to Kitchen’s Wagyu Beef Cheek Khao Soi
  • Dak & Bop’s Octopus Kimbap
  • Rosie Cannonball’s Speck Crocchè
  • Brasil’s Lipstick On A Grizzly Bear
  • Gatlin’s BBQ’s Smoked Pork Belly and Scallion Pancake
  • Kin’s Roasted Pork Loin Rendang Curry

Attendees popped into our photo booth for pics and hopped into the uber-cool 360 Photo Booth from PicMe Events — an Instagram story favorite — for spinning selfies.

CultureMap editor Steven Devadanam welcomed the crowd, recognized sponsors and staff, including food editor Eric Sandler, and introduced emcee Bun B. Houston’s own hip-hop icon and frequent trill Tastemaker Awards host quickly hyped up the energetic audience and set the tone for a fast awards program. (His Trill Burgers table was one of the night’s most buzziest stops.)

Nominees included Pop-up of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year, Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, Bar of the Year, Best New Restaurant, and the hotly anticipated Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year.

Winners were chosen by our judges panel of restaurant industry experts — except Best New Restaurant, which was voted on by CultureMap readers. Get the full list of winners here.

Much like the Academy Awards’ buzz builds around Best Actor and Best Picture, the Tastemaker Awards anticipation builds around the Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year categories. In the end, Kaitlin Steets of Littlefoot/Theodore Rex took the title of Chef of the Year, while Nobie’s scored Restaurant of the Year.

Since its launch in 2014, our Tastemaker Awards have been the city’s defining food event — and 2021’s was one of the biggest and brightest ever. Hearty congratulations to the winners; we can’t wait for next year.

Foodies, fans, and merrymakers included David and Audrey GowSarah and Reece FoyBen Berg, Wes Winn, Aaron BludornTasos KatsaounisBrooklynn Weatherill, Jonathan Horowitz and Quinn Hoang, Jess TimmonsKaren de Amat, Felice Sloan, Danielle Dubois, Thomas Nguyen, Matt Harris, Diane and Willet Feng, Brittany Meisner, Peter Falke, Seliece and Lee WombleMow Rahman and Johnathan Jones, Eva WilkeNick Scurfield, Jordan SmithCatherine Manterola, Tiffany Halik, AJ Hoffman, Sara Jackson, and many, many more.