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  • If you hit up the dinner-only Spindletop, the revolving restaurant at the top ofdowntown’s Hyatt Regency Houston, you can slurp up chef de cuisine DrewYeckley’s Chilled Texas Watermelon Soup.
  • Farmers in Japan started growing the melons inside glass cubes and in 2010 aPanama produce company starting importing them to the United States.
    Flickr
  • The perfect summertime treat. Cold, delicious, refreshing and good for so manydishes.

I don’t care what the calendar claims: It is officially summer.

Driving down the street recently, I saw some landscapers breaking for lunch under a large oak tree. One of the men was pulling a giant watermelon out of the truck and carrying it over.

Ah, watermelon.

The perfect summertime treat. Cold, delicious, refreshing and good for so many dishes.

I think the first time I tasted it I was a child at my grandparents ranch down in Poteet, a town renowned for strawberries but also a great place to grow watermelon. I remember being outside and chomping into a big slice that my Grandfather Sutton had chopped off a big green and yellow melon and being shown how to spit the seeds out, as Grandpa warned us that if we swallowed them a watermelon would grow in our stomachs.

Of course nowadays they grow seedless watermelons. Round watermelons. Mini-watermelons. Even square watermelons. Yes, really.

Farmers in Japan started growing the melons inside glass cubes and in 2010 a Panama produce company starting importing them to the U.S. The square melons are easier to transport and fit better inside your fridge. But they are more costly and frankly I want a watermelon that looks like a watermelon. Not a like a Frankenstein fruit.

It’s the state’s largest annual horticultural crop with more than 42,000 acres in 100 counties dedicated to growing watermelons.

Fear not, Texas watermelons are the real deal. And they are plentiful this time of year. The Lone Star State ranks third in U.S. production of watermelons, churning out $50 million worth a year. According to Texas A&M, it’s the state’s largest annual horticultural crop with more than 42,000 acres in 100 counties dedicated to growing watermelons.

The season runs from May through July and growers stretch from the Rio Grande Valley to the Rolling Plains area. And, this being Texas, we have plenty of food festivals to celebrate this summer crop. I’ve been to the annual Lulling Watermelon Thump but haven’t made it to the Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, one of the oldest watermelon festivals begun in 1937. Closer to Houston there’s the Hempstead Watermelon Festival that turns 23 this July 21.

Get Your Melon On

But you don’t have to wait for a festival to enjoy this juicy treat. Check out any farmers market or grocery store and you’ll find piles of big melons just waiting for you. Local chef are into the spirit as well —with watermelon dishes and drinks popping up on menus all over town.

Watermelon juice is the perfect sip of summer and makes a great base for any hot weather cocktail from martinis to margaritas.

If you hit up the dinner-only Spindletop, the revolving restaurant at the top of downtown’s Hyatt Regency Houston, this summer you can slurp up chef de cuisine Drew Yeckley’s Chilled Texas Watermelon Soup. It’s a yummy blend of fresh blended watermelon, honey, rosemary, mint and fresh citrus juices. Plus a splash of champagne. A perfect palate cleanser between your appetizers and entrée.

And for the month of June at both locations of RA Sushi Bar Restaurant, you can get a twofer of chilled melon delight: the Watermelon Kiwi Shrimp and Melon-Kiwi-Tini combo.

The salad features layers of watermelon, kiwi, orange slices and lychee, topped with shrimp. It’s a light and healthy summer meal.

The cocktail is a blend of Monin Watermelon, Svedka Citron, Shochu and a splash of citrus soda muddled together and served with a garnish of fresh watermelon and kiwi slices.

Watermelon juice is the perfect sip of summer and makes a great base for any hot weather cocktail from martinis to margaritas. Sure, you buy it but why not make your own watermelon aqua fresca at home?

Here’s a recipe from Whole Foods Market:

Ingredients
Six to eight pounds seedless watermelon, cut into two-inch pieces, 
two cups cold water, divided, 
one tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, 
one tablespoon agave nectar or honey (more or less to taste), 
ice cubes, 
lime slices and mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Method
Cut the watermelon flesh from the rind. In a blender, process half the watermelon pieces with one cup of water until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a pitcher. Repeat the process with the remaining melon and water. You should end up with about eight cups of juice. Stir in the limejuice and agave. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with lime slices and mint.

Oh, and add some chilled vodka to the glass for a delightful taste of summer in a glass come cocktail hour.

Bottoms up summer!

  • Whether you are trying to get fit, party, enjoy a leisurely afternoon or unleashthe artsy in you, CultureMap has put together five happenings at Discovery Greenthat deserve a spot on your iCal.
    Photo by Gary Hunt
  • DockDogs is a three-day event of Olympic proportions during which iron poochesswim, leap and retrieve to earn the title of top dog.
  • Or you can just enjoy a stroll through the beaitfully landscaped area. There'sno need for an agenda, just a desire to unwind.
    Photo by John Gollings

Five free events you don't want to miss at Discovery Green: From the dogOlympics to Rainbow

Discovering Summer Fun

It wasn't long ago that what is now the center of downtown outdoor life was industrial land and concrete parking lots. Around $180 million in acquisition and improvement costs later, Discovery Green offers an active park in which to enjoy programs year round.

There's something for everyone. Whether you are trying to get fit, party, enjoy a leisurely afternoon or unleash the artsy in you, we've put together five happenings that deserve a spot on your iCal.

Libations, Cuisine and Movies Under the Stars: Date Night Movies

Not to be confused with the regular movie screenings on the hill, these more intimate gatherings are on the Grace Event Lawn. Bring a picnic blanket and sprawl out on the grass for a flick — Tootsie on Saturday or Dirty Dancing on June 23.

Grab a snack basket at The Grove ($25), which includes mini pretzel bites with a trio of mustards, parmesan truffled popcorn and homemade chocolate, or choose a three-course prix fixe menu ($45) of ricotta gnudi, salad, choice of Ahi tuna, rotisserie chicken, filet mignon or Texas redfish, and dessert. And for early arrivals, a dance instructor will offer lessons.

It's OK to get romantic, but if you need a room remember the Hilton-Americas is just across the street.

Saturday and June 23. Screening starts at 8 p.m. Free to attend, food and drinks additional.

DockDogs

You know the cuddly fluffy Bichon Frise that cuddles up to you and licks your nose? It turns out some of his cousins are quite the four-legged athletes.

Moreover, they love the water just as much as Houston loves the DockDogs challenge. It's a three-day event of Olympic proportions in which iron pooches swim, leap and retrieve to earn the title of top dog. Discovery Green changes things up a bit this year with the addition of a "Haute Dog" costume contest and a tricks competition.

June 22 though 24. Admission is free for spectators; $25-$40 for participants.

Rainbow on the Green presented by LandRover Houston

Last year, the whole GLBT community went haywire for guest celebrity Anthony Rapp, star of the original cast of Rent. The second annual Rainbow on the Green gets even gayer with disco legend Thelma Houston, whose timeless hit "Don't Leave Me This Way" is as naughty now as it was when it was released in 1975.

Tye Blue hosts, and the event also includes a troupe of local GLBT singers, dancers and musicians.

Oh baby, come satisfy the need in me — you know the lyrics, don't you? We're sure you've got the music in you. Houston needs some Thelma.

June 22, 8-10 p.m. Admission is free.

Discovery Green Flea

For the summer, the monthly antique shopping party moves to the evening to avoid the sweltering heat. Set in the shady meadow behind The Grove, a myriad of vendors morph the grounds into a haven for bargain shoppers and eco-conscious consumers who seek recycled, up-cycled, re-purpose, vintage and playful artifacts, collectibles and furniture.

Look out for a special treasure hunt item hidden somewhere in between the tents. Find it and it's yours to keep.

June 16 and July 21, 6-10 p.m. Admission is free.

Julydoscope

Other than it happens in July, this evening fete should be called art-kaleidoscope as it is a commingling of local art organizations looking to show Houston a good time. This combination of film, music, dance and entertainment on the Anheuser-Busch Stage will feature the talents of Q-Fest, Theatre Under the Stars, Avantica Academy of Odissi Dance and other arts powerhouse companies.

At 8:30 p.m. Houston Cinema Arts Society will screen The Wiz starring Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Nipsey Russell.

July 28, 6-10 p.m. Admission is free.

  • Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
  • TrinitiRestaurant.com
  • Mercury Baroque musicians
    Photo by George Hixson
  • Mercury Baroque
    Photo by George Hixson

Wine pairings are so passe: Triniti makes dinner special again with musicpairings, conductor included

Foodie News

I've seen wine pairings, beer pairings and even chocolate pairings. Now Triniti has announced perhaps the first-ever dinner with a musical pairing.

Triniti is partnering with Mercury (formerly Mercury Baroque) to choreograph an eight-course dinner and wine tasting menu with music from the 15-person orchestra ensemble, under the direction of maestro Antoine Plante.

"The task is to select musical pieces that will address the nuances of each dish."

The combination of inspirations should be interesting, especially as Triniti, under the helm of chef/owner Ryan Hildebrand, pays much attention to the multi-sensory experience of food, particularly pace and presentation. Marrying that with selections from Handel and Vivaldi (among others) to convey mood should be thought provoking.

"It's interesting and also challenging," Plante said in a statement. "The task is to select musical pieces that will address the nuances of each dish, whether it calls for contrasting themes to address different flavors, something with weight and drama for a heartier dish, or a slow lyrical melody for something sweet.

"If the course is crisp and clean, the music will reflect that too."

The dinner will take place on June 10, and 40 percent of the $220 tickets will benefit Mercury. Hildebrand says that he hopes to create similar collaborations to debut each new seasonal menu with this being summer.

It should certainly take the concept of "a little dinner music" to the next level.

  • I want to sing the praises of a lawn game that was recently introduced to me:Kubb.
    Amazonaws.com
  • Because the game uses such rudimentary pieces, you don’t even need to scour theInternet to order your own set (though sets can be found online if you'relooking.)
    OrangeHat

The greatest lawn game of them all? Forget Frisbee and get your Kubb on

From Sweden with fun

I’m a big fan of lawn games. A picnic isn’t a picnic without a lively round of throwing washers or Frisbee, as far as I’m concerned. What I love about lawn games is how easy they are organize, and how players are able to find that happy medium between competition and rabid intensity.

I’ve never seen a person angrily hurl a Frisbee into the woods after a bad toss, and I’ve gotten to know many acquaintances better after humbly congratulating them as they cover my hard earned five-point washer toss. In my younger days, my friends and I would spend entire weekends at Crystal Beach with people that we had met within hours of setting up an impromptu sand volleyball net.

If you serve it, they will most definitely come.

The game was imported from Sweden, and as you might suspect, is played with square wooden pieces and practical, common-sense rules.

Lawn games don’t just have to be restricted to old classics, though. We live in Houston, after all.

In this city, things are often a bit more . . . eclectic. This is a city where you can get Vietnamese, Greek and Salvadoran food within a block of each other and maybe see an Art Car or three along the way, and I sense that Houstonians might want to approach the traditional lawn game concept with the same adventurous spirit.

This is the city that introduced Major League Baseball to domed stadiums and Astroturf, after all.

With Memorial Day weekend here, I want to sing the praises of a lawn game that was recently introduced to me. Kubb (pronounced “koob”) is a game that satisfies every requirement of what good lawn competition is all about.

The game can be played at the drop of a hat, with as few as two people or as many as 12. It presents an opportunity for players to toss objects at other objects — a strangely common element in these sorts of games — and you can play it virtually anywhere.

The game was imported from Sweden, and as you might suspect, is played with square wooden pieces and practical, common-sense rules. The object of the game is simply to use six wooden batons (officially called “kastpinnars”) to knock down each of your opponent’s line of square blocks (called “kubbs”) before knocking down the bigger middle block, or “king.”

Easy enough, right? Not so fast, pardner.

If one of your kubbs is knocked over, you then must shamefully throw it past the king in the middle (throwing overhand or side-arm is a no-no). Once this happens, your opponent proceeds to set it up for you to knock over again before you start aiming for their kubbs. The key strategy here is to try and keep the thrown piece as close to your side as you can, while keeping it away from the king.

After each kubb is knocked over on one side, a player can then start aiming for the king. Knock over the king after all of your opponent’s kubbs are down, and you win. Knock the king over before the last kubb falls, and you have just lost the game.

What I like most about this game is how clean and simple the pitch (normally five meters by eight meters) looks when a game is underway. There is something immediately appealing about wooden blocks scattered across a field of green grass, accompanied by the dull thud of the kastpinnars as they knock over a few kubbs. There’s also the added bonus that you and your kubbmates might be the first ones on the block playing this strange, wonderful lawn game.

You are sure to arouse the curiosity of bystanders, which may very well lead to some wonderful opportunities for Kubb evangelization.

Because the game uses such rudimentary pieces, you don’t even need to scour the Internet to order your own set (though sets can be found online if you're looking.) All you really need is a 72-inch 4x4, a 72-inch wooden pole, a table saw and a tape measure. Cut the 4x4 into 10 six-inch kubbs and one 12-inch king, cut the wooden pole into six 12-inch batons, pack the game up in your favorite reusable bag, head to Menil Park, and you’re set!

I’ll see y’all on the Kubb pitch, Houston.

An exclusive video tour of Galveston's new Pleasure Pier: Riding over the Gulfof Mexico

CultureMap Video

Step right up, folks: The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier has opened its gates, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The amusement park and destination, a Landry's Inc. venture, salutes the historic pier that stood in the same location along the Galveston Seawall from 1948 until 1961. But the new amenities are decidedly modern on the 1,130-foot stretch, jam-packed with shops, food and games.

And, of course, roller coasters.

Though the attractions easily distract, it's impossible for one to forget that the platform is suspended over the Gulf of Mexico.

The Cyclone whooshes. The Texas Tea induces dizziness. The Pirate's Plunge splashes passers-by. Only a few of the 16 rides (13 are currently operational) are along the pier, designed to whirl and twirl and entertain.

"There's something for everybody," Mark Kane, regional director of the Landry's theme park and interim general manager of the Pleasure Pier, tells CultureMap.

Though the attractions easily distract, it's impossible for one to forget that the platform is suspended over the Gulf of Mexico. At each step, visitors get vistas of the gulf and the seawall. Almost all of the rides swing out over the water, where surfers straddle their boards below, alongside the cement pilings. The ocean breeze cools — at least for now.

A Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and a Gump on the Run (both accessible from outside of the entrance gates) ensure that visitors won't leave hungry. You'll also find all of the requisite carnival foods — chips, burgers, cotton candy, pretzels, pizza and more. The Brew Station offers beer, margaritas and wine for adults, and Lolli & Pop's Candy Shoppe has sweet treats for the young and young at heart.

All of the amenities combine to create a family-friendly atmosphere, fun for kids and grown ups, tourists and locals alike.

Find more information about visiting the Pleasure Pier here. Watch CultureMap's exclusive video tour (above), produced by Joel Luks.

  • Photo by Shelby Hodge
  • Tafia

Eat dinner at a top chef's home — or Cook Eat Love at farmers markets: It's agreat foodie summer

Foodie News

OIMBY, short for Outstanding in my Backyard, came together in 2010 as a reaction to the skyrocketing prices for the national farm-focused dinner series Outstanding in the Field. It brought together foodies, some top-tier local chefs and donated local ingredients for an affordable yet memorable experience.

Now OIMBY has returned to Houston with a series of summer dinners at the home of Monica Pope.

"[David Leftwich and Tara Kelly] did it as a cheeky thing: Not expensive, charitable," Pope says. "But in the last five years, of all the things I've done, it's one of the things people are still talking about. It resonated with people."

"It feels very exposing, like 'Yikes, I'm going to have people entering my home, in my backyard,' but it's expressing the importance of all of us doing this," Pope says.

Pope hopes the revived OIMBY experience (organized with Leftwich and Kelly) will help her express her food philosophies, focusing on changing the way people live, not just how they eat. Over the past two years she's transformed the backyard of the house she's owned for 20 years, bringing in a bee hive, growing a butterfly garden and even adding chickens into the mix.

"It feels very exposing, like 'Yikes, I'm going to have people entering my home, in my backyard,' but it's expressing the importance of all of us doing this. It's been a long journey and it ended with a microcosmic world in my backyard, " Pope says. "I want it to be meaningful and beautiful in a way that will resonate, not just cooking hot dogs in the backyard.

"I want people to come and go 'Wow' . . . to see the spectacle. And it's going to be fun, that's the most important part."

Pope will hold the OIMBY dinners on eight Sunday evenings in June and July. Tickets are $40 each, available here or by calling 713-524-6922. Pope says she is still getting the menus and guest chefs in place, but says she's working with vendors to create themes like a pork-driven supper, plus events that will focus on seafood and goat.

Yet OIMBY is only a one of Pope's summer projects. Pope is also starting a farmers market program called "Shop Cook Eat Love." Starting on June 16, she'll lead a group through the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Rice University Farmers Market on Tuesdays, teaching customers how to "get the most out of [their] trip to the farmers market," picking out produce and heading to t'afia afterwards to learn how to prepare them, eat their bounty and go home with new knowledge and a new recipe. Tickets are $45 and include the cost of food.

Oh, and when she's not working on either of these projects or at her restaurant, Pope is also writing a memoir.

"I just wanted to push it this summer, personally and professionally," she says.

Are you on board for OIMBY?

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CultureMap film critic’s guide to the 10 Best Picture Oscar nominees of 2023

Oscar analysis

The nominations for the 2023 Academy Awards have been announced, with 10 films vying for Best Picture. Everything Everywhere All at Once led the way with 11 total nominations, with The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front close behind with 9 nominations each.

Take a look back at what CultureMap’s film critic, Alex Bentley, had to say about each of the nominees (listed below in alphabetical order) when they were originally released. This year's Oscars ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 12.

All Quiet on the Western Front (not reviewed)
The epic anti-war German film, available to stream on Netflix, has been gaining steam on the awards circuit in recent weeks, also earning 14 nominations for the British Academy film awards, the most among films nominated there. With nine nominations at the Oscars, it's a serious contender to win not just International Feature Film, but Best Picture as well, a la Parasite.

Avatar: The Way of Water
There’s no denying that everything in the long-awaited Avatar looks spectacular, from the Na’vi to the different animals of the world to the abundant water. But writer/director James Cameron has also employed the high frame rate of 48 frames-per-second, giving everything a hyper-real look that, at least for this critic, does not make for a great viewing experience. Also, for a film that’s 3 hours and 12 minutes long, you’d think there would be plenty of time to devote to all aspects of the story, but somehow that isn’t the case. Though it's nominated for Best Picture, its best chances of winning lie in the three other technical nominations.

The Banshees of Inisherin
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this film reunited him with his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for one of the funniest movies of the year, and also one of the saddest. The film is spectacular in its ordinary nature, with the story centering around Gleeson's character ending his longtime friendship with Farrell's character for seemingly no reason. All four main actors - Farrell (Best Actor), Gleeson (Best Supporting Actor), Barry Keoghan (Best Supporting Actor), and Kerry Condon (Best Supporting Actress) - earned nominations, and McDonagh was nominated for both directing and writing, making this film one of the favorites.

Elvis
One of those love-it-or-hate-it type movies, the latest from writer/director Baz Luhrmann didn't hit the sweet spot for this critic, mostly because its focus was more on Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), and not Elvis (Austin Butler) himself. That meant much more time for Hanks to deliver one of the worst performances of the year. Butler earned his Best Actor nomination, as there are times when he is absolutely electric. But there's a reason that six of its eight nominations are in technical categories - the story doesn't live up to Butler's performance.

Everything Everywhere All at Once
On the other end of the spectrum from Elvis is Everything Everywhere All at Once, a film that knew how to use its flashiness in much better ways. Featuring a breathtaking lead performance by Michelle Yeoh (who earned her first-ever nomination), the return of '80s kid star Ke Huy Quan (favored to win for Best Supporting Actor), and polar opposite performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu (both nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the film was as wild and weird as it was emotional. With a couple of surprise nominations, including Best Musical Score and Best Song, it seems destined for a lot of wins.

The Fabelmans
The most personal movie ever from writer/director Steven Spielberg (nominated in both categories), The Fabelmans is a lightly-fictionalized chronicle of Spielberg's childhood, where he caught the bug of filmmaking and endured his parents' disintegrating marriage. With seven overall nominations, including Best Actress for Michelle Williams, a surprise Best Supporting Actor nomination for Judd Hirsch (who's in the film for less than 10 minutes), and another nomination for Best Score for the iconic John Williams (who now has 52 - !! - lifetime nominations), it would be unwise to discount this film's chances at taking home the top prize.

Tár
If ever a film was defined by its lead actor, it's Tár, featuring a towering - and now, Oscar-nominated - performance by Cate Blanchett as world-renowned - but fictional - conductor Lydia Tár. The first film in 16 years from writer/director Todd Field (nominated in both categories), it is notable for how much time it devotes to setting up Tár as a character. Though the story is set in the rarefied world of classical music, it has a grounded nature that keeps it balanced. The film is nominated for seven total Oscars, but its best chance at a win lies with Blanchett, who's the heavy favorite.

Top Gun: Maverick
My personal No. 1 movie of the year, the long-gestating sequel to 1984's Top Gun delivered everything you could want out of a summer blockbuster and more. Even though it it essentially offers up the greatest hits from the original in a slightly repackaged manner, it does so in a spectacular manner. Even though you'd expect its five nominations aside from Best Picture (which gives star Tom Cruise, who also served as a producer, his first Oscar nomination in 24 years) to be technical ones, it was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, an indication that its story was equal to its visuals.

Triangle of Sadness (not reviewed)
A black comedy that takes aim at the obliviousness of wealthy people, Triangle of Sadness is only nominated in three categories, but they're three big ones - Best Picture, Best Director (Ruben Östlund), and Best Original Screenplay (Östlund). Unlike some of the other films in this category, it was not among the best-reviewed movies of the year, but it's clear that Östlund has his supporters in the writer and director wings of the Academy, so one or two wins are not out of the realm of possibility.

Women Talking
Although it was one of my top 10 movies of the year, Women Talking is perhaps the least likely film among the 10 nominated to be in this category, as it only has one other nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay for writer/director Sarah Polley. Set almost entirely in a barn loft on a Mennonite compound as a group of women decide how to fight back against abusive men, it is a true ensemble film, with no actor truly standing out among the others. Still, with award-winning actors like Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and Claire Foy leading the way, it deserves to be recognized among the year's best.

Houston's Top Chef Season 18 finalist and former Olympian packs her knives for Season 20 in London

houston's top cheftestant

A Houston chef has packed her knives and gone to London. Dawn Burrell will be one of the 16 competitors on Top Chef's 20th season, Bravo announced.

Burrell, who reached the finals of Top Chef season 18 in Portland, Oregon, earned a James Beard semifinalist nomination for her work at downtown restaurant Kulture. The former Olympian-turned-chef will open Late August, a restaurant that explores the intersection of African and Asians cuisines, in the Ion mixed-use development later this spring.

“I’m a natural competitor, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete on the Top Chef stage again to try to bring home the win," Burrell said in a statement. "All in all, it was truly an honor to be selected for this All Stars season — the first across the pond!”

She will compete against an all-star cast of former Top Chef competitors from 11 seasons, including Buddha Lo, winner of last year's season 19 in Houston. The cast also has a global flavor with winners and finalists from Top Chef's international editions in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Middle East & North Africa, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Poland.

Such an accomplished group merits an equally compelling set of challenges. Over the course of the season, viewers will watch the cheftestants put their spins on British classics such as beef Wellington, afternoon tea, and pub fare. They'll cook at prominent London destinations including Highclere Castle and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

For the signature Restaurant Wars episode, the chefs will cook at Core by Clare Smyth, a London restaurant that holds three Michelin stars. The finale will take place in Paris and feature an appearance by legendary French chef Alain Ducasse.

Top Chef stars Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Padma Lakshmi will all return to the show. They'll be joined by a number of prominent chefs including the aforementioned Clare Smyth as well as Aquiles Chavez, Hélène Darroze, Martha Ortiz, and Dave Zilber (Judge, Top Chef Canada).

Top Chef season 20 will premier at 8 pm on Thursday, March 9. Episodes will be available the following day on the Peacock streaming service.

Here's a sneak peek at the action.



Here are the top 14 things to do in Houston this weekend

weekend event planner

What's poppin' this weekend? How about a gazillion bubbles — or so — as a popular New York bubble show bounces into Houston. A highly anticipated downtown park finally hosts a grand opening bash, while Houston Botanic Garden blooms with massive sculptures hiding in plain sight.

A major influencer beefs up a burger pop-up, comedian Jo Koy brings the funny, and a K-pop smash act hits town. Enjoy; here are your best bets for the weekend.

Thursday, January 26

State & Liberty Charitable Happy Hour

State & Liberty, a clothing retailer of men’s athletic-fit dress shirts, will be hosting a happy hour and charity shopping experience. Benefitting the Kyle Tucker Foundation, State & Liberty opens its doors to shoppers to peruse their wrinkle-free, lightweight performance fabrics. The brand offers suits, sport coats, polos, and casual stretch shorts. The store will donate 10% of sales to the Foundation during the event. While shopping for a cause, guests can also take in complementary whiskey tasting and live music, as well as a cigar gift with purchase. 5 pm.

Holocaust Museum Houston presents The Jewish Dog

In collaboration with the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and the ADL Southwest, Holocaust Museum Houston presents The Jewish Dog, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Based on the book of the same name, this moving – and at times funny – one-man show tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of Coresh, a dog born into a Jewish Family in Berlin, 1933. 6:30 pm.

Moores Opera Center presents Die Fledermaus

Raise a glass to comedy and decadence with one of the most beloved operettas in the repertoire. What could be more fun than a show that revolves around practical jokes, disguises, and gallons of champagne? Audiences will attend the ultimate masked ball and discover not only why Johann Strauss Jr. is known as the Waltz King, but also just how far some people will go to exact their revenge. 7:30 pm (2:30 pm Sunday).

Friday, January 27

Trebly Park Grand Opening

Located in southern downtown, in the Central Business District, Trebly Park is a neighborhood park that features dog runs, a large lawn, Tout Suite and more. At the Trebly Park Grand Opening, experience “three times as much” fun. Visitors can get sweet macaroons at the park restaurant, Tout Suite, visit the dog parks, listen to live music, and play carnival games at downtown Houston's new neighborhood park. And it’s all free. 2 pm.

Houston Botanic Garden presents Intertwined, Wined & Dined

Houston Botanic Garden will host Steve Tobin, the creator of Intertwined: Exploring Nature's Network, for this exclusive happy hour and dinner, where guests will learn directly from Steve about these sculptures. Guests will also get to take a stroll after-hours at sunset with a private tour of the Houston Botanic Garden and its newest sculpture exhibit. Executive chef Thomas Stacy will host the five-course immersive pop-up dinner and wine pairing, featuring garden grown heirloom collard greens, selected veggies and robust herbs. 5 pm.

Reeves Art + Design presents "Houston, We Need a Title" opening reception

The gallery returns to its eclectic roots with a show that incorporates everything but the kitchen sink. Bringing together work from over 25 Texas artists, they aim to take a step back from traditional curation with this show and simply allow their clients to experience a plethora of art and explore their own tastes and preferences. Featured artists include those making their Reeves Art + Design debut, including Gary Griffin, Holland Geibel, Wood Francher Anthony, Jessica Simorte, Hector Hernandez, and more. Through Saturday, February 18. 6 pm.

Houston Grand Opera presents Werther

The lovesick yearnings of the tortured young poet Werther lead to his tragic fate in Massenet’s lush opera, which returns to HGO for the first time in 40 years with this production from French director Benoît Jacquot, making his HGO debut. Matthew Polenzani, one of the world’s most distinguished tenors, leads the cast as Werther in his Houston debut. With mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard debuting alongside, audiences won’t want to miss this chance to see legends perform a rare psychological drama. Through Friday, February 10. 7:30 pm (2:30 pm Sunday).

Saturday, January 28

Performing Arts Houston presents Gazillion Bubble Show

After 20 years as a Master of Bubbles, in 2007 Fan Yang brought his unique brand of bubble artistry to the Big Apple and has since wowed bubble lovers of all ages. The Gazillion Bubble Show truly is a family affair for Fan: his wife Ana, son Deni, daughter Melody, and brother Jano all can be found on stage in New York and around the world performing their bubble magic. Audiences are delighted with an unbelievable experience, awash with a bubble tide, and some even find themselves inside a bubble. 11 am and 3 pm.

Queen of Hearts: Griff’s Employee Relief Fund

Memorial Trail Ice House will have a Queen of Hearts benefit for the Griff’s employee relief fund. Griff's Irish Pub has been a Houston landmark for many years, and the news of the fire that happened earlier this month has affected a lot of people – especially the staff and owners. Come support the employees as they rebuild, while getting a chance to win 50% of the pot. Tickets are $20 with no purchase limit. Slim Chance Bistro will be on site until 4pm. Noon.

Harris County Public LIbrary presents Holocaust Remembrance Day Concert

Apollo Chamber Players and Harris County Public LIbrary will reflect Holocaust Remembrance Day with a program of multicultural new music by Sephardic scholar Isabelle Ganz and Rice University faculty composer Richard Lavenda. Guest collaborators include vocalist Ceclia Duarte, percussionist Jesus Pacheco, and bassoonist Benjamin Kamins, former principal of the Houston Symphony and professor at The Shepherd School of Music. 2 pm.

Toyota Center presents Jo Koy

After proving he could headline a big-screen comedy with last summer’s Easter Sunday, Jo Koy and his Jo Koy World Tour will feature all-new material. One of today’s premiere stand-up comedians (dude has a bunch of specials on Netflix), Jo’s uniquely relatable comedy, which pulls inspiration from his colorful family, has reached all kinds of people and has translated into sold-out arenas around the world. 8 pm.

Sunday, January 29

Rahim Mohamed “Ocky Way” pop-up at Burger Bodega

Burger Bodega will host the famous TikTok influencer and viral internet sensation Rahim Mohamed for a one-day pop-up. Mohamed will take over the parking lot with his exotic "Ocky Way" chopped cheese sandwiches. With his enormous following, Mohamed has coined the term "Ocky Way" and has taken it to new heights at his sandwich shop Red Hook Food Corp in Brooklyn. Rahim's unique style of sandwiches helped him gain a following of over 4 million followers with millions of views overall. 1 pm.

Ars Lyrica presents From China with Love: Musical Chinoiseries in 17th- and 18th-Century Europe

Exotic decorations on cabinets, porcelain vessels, and embroideries imported from China inspired a popular design trend in Baroque Europe, one reflected in various objects in the Rienzi collection and on the harpsichord featured on this program. Musical selections by Teodorico Pedrini, Henry Purcell, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and Christoph Willibald Gluck illustrate how composers of this time created equally lavish-sounding textures. 4 and 5:30 pm.

ONEUS in concert

After a triumphant U.S. tour last year, the hottest Korean boy band since BTS is back to prove they’re still the most electrifying act on the world stage today. The five members of ONEUS have a fresh, vibrant sound and attitude that sets them apart from all other pop acts. The group’s songs, music videos, and stage show often draw inspiration from traditional Korean instruments, fashion, and culture, but are also forward-looking with intriguing themes, inspired couture, and modern-day sounds like trap, hip-hop, and futuristic funk. 7:30 pm.