in honor of julia
3 Houston A-list chefs headline fundraising dinner honoring Julia Child
Three of Houston’s best chefs are teaming up to pay tribute to a culinary icon. Chris Williams (Lucille’s), Aaron Bludorn (Bludorn, Navy Blue), and James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd will collaborate on a meal that honors the legacy of Julia Child.
Held on Thursday, February 8 at the historic Eldorado Ballroom, the dinner is part of a series being presented by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts as part of a tour that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Julia Child Award, which honors “those who foster profound change in the way America cooks, eats, and drinks,” according to a release. Food writer and cookbook author Toni Tipton-Martin, who received the Julia Child Award in 2021, will co-host the dinner.
The meal will begin with Bludorn’s seafood gumbo. Shepherd will follow with a family-style platter of dishes inspired by both Child and Tipton-Martin that includes smoked ham ribs, chicken and rice flour dumplings, and two vegetable sides. Williams will close out the meal an allspice cake with spiked cream.
Shepherd tells CultureMap that Tipton-Martin’s participation is one of the reasons he agreed to participate in the dinner, which will raise funds for The Smithsonian Food History Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
“Toni Tipton-Martin, I’ve looked up to her for a long time. She helped start Southern Foodways Alliance. I just asked her to be on the board of Southern Smoke,” Shepherd tells CultureMap. “When my cookbook came up for a Beard Award, hers beat me. She’s just such a great human being and a great advocate for food and foodways.”
Although Shepherd is known more for taking inspiration from Houston’s immigrant communities than French cooking, he cites Julia Child as an early influence on his decision to become a chef.
“Watching Julia Child every Saturday, it influenced where I wanted to go,” he says “I found myself in the kitchen reading cookbooks. Her words of food got me to where I’m at now.”
Tickets for the dinner, priced at $275 per person, are on sale now through January 31. The series will continue with dinners in New York; Chicago; Madison, Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles.
“It’s a privilege to honor the diverse contributions of 10 years of Julia Child Award recipients through a series crisscrossing the country," said Eric W. Spivey, Chairman of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. “Julia would be delighted by all the recipients' achievements and that we are bringing people together around the table to raise vital funds for the Smithsonian since she valued culinary history so highly.”