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 Savve, Maestro 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 Gow, Sarah and Reece Foy, Ben Berg, Wes Winn, Aaron Bludorn, Tasos Katsaounis, Brooklynn Weatherill, Jonathan Horowitz and Quinn Hoang, Jess Timmons, Karen de Amat, Felice Sloan, Danielle Dubois, Thomas Nguyen, Matt Harris, Diane and Willet Feng, Brittany Meisner, Peter Falke, Seliece and Lee Womble, Mow Rahman and Johnathan Jones, Eva Wilke, Nick Scurfield, Jordan Smith, Catherine Manterola, Tiffany Halik, AJ Hoffman, Sara Jackson, and many, many more.