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Photo courtesy Casa de Esperanza [https://www.casahope.org]

CultureMap readers have spoken loud and clear during the 2015 CultureMap Houston Charity Challenge presented by Yellow Cab. Of the 12,400 digital votes, more than one third were cast in favor of one of the 12 nonprofit partners that participated in the online competition spotlighting organizations that make Houston a better place to call home.

The envelope . . . please.

Casa de Esperanza de los Niños (House of Hope for Children) has emerged victorious. The organization will receive an exclusive advertising package from CultureMap valued at $5,000, in addition to a $2,500 cash donation and a $200 gift card courtesy of Yellow Cab plus other goodies.

Casa de Esperanza is in the company of other deserving groups — including the Alzheimer's Association Houston and Southeast Texas Chapter, Ambassadors for Texas Children's Hospital, American Heart Association, DePelchin's Children Center, Houston Area Women's Center, Houston Museum District, Latin Women's Initiative, Peach Outreach, Small Steps Nurturing Center and Urban Harvest — that were chosen with input from CultureMap society guru Shelby Hodge.

"We are very lucky to have such amazing supporters."

Since opening its doors, Casa de Esperanza has provided residential services and coordinated medical and psychological care for children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. With a donation of $500 plus a little help from their friends, Kathy Foster and Bill Jones opened the nonprofit's first home in 1982.

"Casa de Esperanza is very excited to win the challenge," Foster says. "We are grateful for our partnership with CultureMap and the continued support in spreading the mission of our organization."

Jodi Gough, the group's development coordinator, credits Casa de Esperanza's success in the charity challenge to daily emails to staff, family and friends, alongside e-blasts and an ongoing social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, that reminded constituents to visit the challenge website and vote.

"We are very lucky to have such amazing supporters," Gough tells CultureMap.

In second place with 29 percent of the votes was The Will Herndon Fund, which supports research to treat and cure juvenile Batten disease. The top two spots in the challenge suggest that Houstonians have a soft spot for causes that help children.

Casa de Esperanza de los Niños has won the 2015 CultureMap Houston Charity Challenge presented by Yellow Cab.

Photo courtesy Casa de Esperanza [https://www.casahope.org]
Casa de Esperanza de los Niños has won the 2015 CultureMap Houston Charity Challenge presented by Yellow Cab.
Photo by Paula Murphy

Preschool for inner city kids changes Houston for the better: A last Charity Challenge voting plea

Vote Now

Houston's a city of great giving and the CultureMap Charity Challenge, presented by Yellow Cab, aims to highlight that. CultureMap selected 12 deserving nonprofits to compete for a grand prize as they all raise awareness for worthy causes. CultureMap is highlighting the charities. Today: Small Steps Nurturing Center.

Founded in 1995, Small Steps Nurturing Center is a non-profit Christian preschool that provides early childhood education to economically at-risk children in Houston’s inner city while nurturing the student's social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth.

The non-profit’s First Ward-area school was built in 1999. The program’s success led to the opening of a second campus in Houston’s Fifth Ward in 2006.

Last year, the school served 180 economically at-risk children, ages two through six, using a social-emotional curriculum developed in collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital in 2001.

Additionally, Small Steps provided daily transportation to and from school, served nutritious meals and snacks daily, and offered social, emotional, speech and group play therapy to those children in need.

Small Steps holds four special events every year to help raise funds for its program: Small Steps Nurture and Nourish luncheon, Small Steps Energy Classic charity golf tournament, Small Steps Clays Classic and the Small Steps Wine Classic.

High quality preschool programs for children living in poverty makes a positive impact in the lives of those children, their families and society as a whole.

Vote now for Small Steps Nurturing Center — or one of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge.

American Heart Association [http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/Houston/Texas/Home_UCM_SWA001_AffiliatePage.jsp]

Saving your heart: This Charity Challenge contender has kept blood pumping for almost 100 years

Your Vote Matters

Houston's a city of great giving and the CultureMap Charity Challenge, presented by Yellow Cab, aims to highlight that. CultureMap selected 12 deserving nonprofits to compete for a grand prize as they all raise awareness for worthy causes. CultureMap is highlighting all the charities during the voting. Today: The American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Founded in 1924 by six philanthropic cardiologists, the organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters.

The nonprofit funds innovative research, pushes for stronger public health policies and provides lifesaving tools and information — they're the nation's leader for CPR education training — to save and improve lives.

The American Heart Association helps people understand the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. They provide science-based treatment guidelines to health care professionals to help ensure the best treatment for every patient. The group also helps educate lawmakers, policy makers and the public as they advocate for changes to protect and improve the health of every community.

The organization holds several annual events locally including the Heart Ball — which raised nearly $60 million nationwide last year alone — and the Heart Walk to help raise awareness and funds to fight cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Vote now for The American Heart Association — or one of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge.

Peach Outreach / Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/PeachOutreach]

The sex cancer? Unusual symptoms often hide this killer, but Charity Challenge contender is changing that

Your Vote Matters

Houston's a city of great giving and the CultureMap Charity Challenge, presented by Yellow Cab, aims to highlight that. CultureMap selected 12 deserving nonprofits to compete for a grand prize as they all raise awareness for worthy causes. CultureMap is highlighting the charities over the next several weeks. Today: Peach Outreach.

Marcy Kurtz is helping bring attention to a form of cancer that many may not be very knowledgeable about with the help of her nonprofit, Peach Outreach. As a two-time uterine cancer survivor, Kurtz is using the color peach — just as breast cancer organizations use pink — to spread the word about uterine (also called endometrial) cancer as well as to raise funds to support research and education.

Kurtz hopes that although the symptoms of uterine cancer might make some people blush — such as pain during or after sex, gas pains, bleeding and a change in bowel movements — she hopes to get people educated so they can recognize them as early as possible.

Uterine cancer accounts for nearly 7 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women.

For many women, it mimics the symptoms of menopause, leading many to ignore the signs as they aren't aware of the symptoms of uterine cancer.

In addition to promoting further education about uterine cancer, which accounts for nearly 7 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women, Peach Outreach also operates a support group on the second Wednesday of each month.

The nonprofit recently held a rooftop yoga event to raise funds for its programs. Nearly 300 people participated in the class, several of whom were uterine cancer survivors themselves, and all proceeds benefited Peach Outreach.

Funds raised by the nonprofit support research and education to advance early diagnosis, treatment and the quality of life of uterine cancer and other gynecological cancer patients, survivors and their families, as well as for organizations like The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Uterine Cancer Research Fund.

Vote now for Peach Outreach — or one of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge.

Urban Harvest/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/UrbanHarvestHouston/photos/a.10150094692546959.312716.226277361958/10153850461646959/?type=1&theater]

Charity Challenge spotlight: Farmers market booster helps turn the entire city green

Your Vote Matters

Houston's a city of great giving and the CultureMap Charity Challenge, presented by Yellow Cab, aims to highlight that. CultureMap selected 12 deserving nonprofits to compete for a grand prize as they all raise awareness for worthy causes. CultureMap is highlighting the charities over the next several weeks. Today: Urban Harvest.

A leader in the local food movement, Urban Harvest, founded in 1994, aims to inspire and empower the diverse people of a culturally rich city by teaching about and encouraging community, good nutrition and sustainability through organic gardening.

The nonprofit organization focuses on three core programs: Community gardens, gardening and youth education, and farmers markets. The first supports existing community gardens and encourages the development of new ones.

Urban Harvest teaches students the fundamentals of how to engage the community, get funding, and design and prepare the site of school gardens, allowing them to apply what they learn and see the results.

Farmers markets spotlight local agricultural products. Farmers, who directly produce their products, come from within 180 miles of Houston and source at least 51 percent of the ingredients locally.

Vote now for Urban Harvest — or one of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge.

Courtesy photo

Charity Challenge spotlight: Sick kids are given a voice by these special Texas Children's Hospital ambassadors

Your Vote Matters

Houston's a city of great giving and the CultureMap Charity Challenge, presented by Yellow Cab, aims to highlight that. CultureMap selected 12 deserving nonprofits to compete for a grand prize as they all raise awareness for worthy causes. CultureMap is highlighting the charities over the next several weeks. Today: Ambassadors for Texas Children's Hospital.

Since 2009, Ambassadors for Texas Children's Hospital has been the voice of patients of Texas Children's, one of the nation’s finest specialty hospitals.

Ensuring that the kid patients receive the best possible care, Ambassadors pledge to stand and speak up for them both through their own charitable donations and by being socially engaged with the greater Houston community, enlisting others to aid in the cause.

To teach the next generation about philanthropy, the price of admission is one donated book.

Ambassadors, who also work with the hospital to define its most critical priorities, have given millions of dollars to provide support where it's needed most.

Two annual Ambassadors On Call luncheons spotlight the hospital by featuring special guest lecturers and renowned health experts, question-and-answer sessions with leading scientists and physicians, and behind-the-scenes tours of operating rooms and research facilities.

The annual, family-oriented "party with a purpose" celebrates the work done by the Ambassadors on behalf of Texas Children's. To teach the next generation about philanthropy, the price of admission is one donated book, and the day is filled with unique activities and opportunities to meet new friends and spend time with old ones.

Vote now for Ambassadors for Texas Children's Hospital — or one of the other worthy local nonprofits — in the CultureMap Charity Challenge.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Galveston's eagerly anticipated boutique hotel taps rising star chef to lead 'fine-ish' dining restaurant

Hotel Lucine finds its chef

The Hotel Lucine, Galveston’s eagerly anticipated, boutique hotel, has made a key hire ahead of its opening this spring. Thorough Fare hospitality group parters Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu, who will oversee the hotel’s food and beverage operations, have named Leila Ortiz as executive chef.

A veteran of celebrity chef David Chang’s celebrated New York restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar and the former sous chef and operations manager for the late, lamented Houston restaurant UB Preserv, Ortiz will oversee the kitchens for both the hotel’s lobby bar and The Fancy, the property’s “fine-ish dining” main restaurant.

Overall, the chef will look to bring both her professional experiences with different Asian flavors and her Latin heritage to the role.

“Having the opportunity to join the Hotel Lucine team and help develop a new space for dining and socializing in Galveston is both daunting and exciting,” Ortiz said in a statement. “The hotel is going to make so many great memories, and I can’t wait to be a part of that.”

Hotel visitors will have different venues for sampling Ortiz’s cooking. The hotel’s two bars — The Den, which will be located in the lobby, and another on the roof — will offer both breakfast and an all-day menu. Potential dishes include chilled heirloom tomatoes served “campechana-style” and a pressed chicken sandwich with Puerto Rican-inspired mojo verde.

At The Fancy, expect a French-influenced take on classic American fare. Dishes include roast chicken with mushroom duxelle and black pepper dumplings and Gulf fish wrapped in potato and served “animal style” with smoked paprika soubise sauce. As one would expect from a chef of Yu’s experience — he won a James Beard Award for his work at Oxheart — the restaurant will source quality ingredients from purveyors such as Alvin, Texas’s Jolly Farm and Galveston’s Katie’s Seafood.

“I have been incredibly lucky to have Leila working with me to develop the opening menus for the hotel,” Yu said. “She has a way about her that is incredibly easy-going, but her flavors are fierce and pop with a lot of pizazz. I can’t wait to show Galveston what we’ve been working on.”

Located on the site of the historic Treasure Isle Motel at 10th and Seawall, the 61-room property will feature an interior courtyard pool, a rooftop with 180-degree views, and a private beach. Austin-based design firm Kartwheel Studio’s plans call for preserving the building’s midcentury feel with details such as white brick, bleached white oak, and native greenery.

Fabulously femme Texas boot brand kicks up first Houston boutique with posh pop-up in River Oaks

New Year, New Boots

Just in time for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, City Boots, the Texas-based handmade, top-shelf boots, is opening its first store in Houston. The brand's posh River Oaks District pop-up will open from February 16 through May 15.

Known for her iconic, limited-edition Heart Boot and Lightning Boots, Amarillo native and founder Lizzy Chesnut Bentley’s designs boast an elevated, feminine, and flattering fit made with premium materials that have garnered the brand a legion of loyal customers.

The Houston store will be the third for City Boots – their first opened in 2019 in Fort Worth, and their second in Dallas’ Deep Ellum opened in spring 2022.

“Our styles are perfect for any look, whether dressing up or everyday casual,” City Boots founder and CEO Lizzy Chesnut Bentley tells CultureMap in an exclusive chat. “The interior design elements Wills Design Associates curated from Round Top and beyond capture the essence of City Boots and the classic simplicity of the new Houston line.”

“We are also partnering with a local nonprofit, Sandal Gap Studio to showcase artwork throughout the store. We know our City Boots customers will love our new store in River Oaks District, and we can’t wait to dress them in our classic Texas footwear.”

For the store, Bentley turned to Lauren Wills Grover of Wills Design Associates to bring her vision of South Texas meets River Oaks District to life. The 30-plus styles of boots will be complemented by vintage wood and leather pieces, pops of color, and cactus. The space will center around ranch house-style and a living room area with leather couches so customers can slip on boots while admiring floating shelves along the walls showcasing the iconic collections.

“I have roots in Houston and the first steps of bringing City Boots to life happened in this city,” Bentley adds in a statement. “After graduating college, I began my oil and gas career in Houston and this opportunity to launch the new Houston Collection in its namesake city right before the Houston Rodeo was the perfect fit.”

Six new styles, dubbed the Houston Collection, will launch at the opening and will be exclusive to the Houston store for the first week before being available online. Notably, Houston Ballet dancers served as models for the collection's debut photography.

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The City Boots pop-up runs February 16 - May 15; Monday through Saturday 11 am – 7 pm; and Sunday 12 – 6 pm; River Oaks District – 4444 Westheimer Rd Suite E130.


Photo by Hannah Dimmitt

Dallas-based City Boots will be in River Oaks District through May 15.

CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd coaches Houston — How to pop big bottles for Super Bowl bashes

wine guy wednesday

Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.

In this week's column, he offers tips for hosting a memorable Super Bowl party. Take it away, Chris,

The biggest professional football game of the year is upon us. What does that mean to me? Big bottles, big groups, and lots of snacks!

Let’s talk about big bottles. If you’re planning on opening multiple bottles throughout the evening, now is the time to consider going big.

A guide to large format wines

  • 750 mL standard-size bottle
  • 1.5L (two standard-size bottles) – Magnum
  • 3L (four standard-size bottles) – Double Magnum
  • 4.5L (six standard-size bottles) – Jeroboam
  • 6L (eight standard-size bottles) Imperial Magnum
  • 9L (12 standard-size bottles, the equivalent of a case) Salmanazar
  • 12L (16 standard-size bottles) – Balthazar
  • 15L (20 standard-size bottles) – Nebuchadnezzar

Why do I buy magnums? They age better and slower than small bottles. The wine matures slower, which means it stays fresher and cleaner for a longer period of time. But when it gets down to it, it’s just damn fun to drink wine out of big bottles. It’s Texas. Bigger is better.

If you’re going to a party, you’ll look really cool walking in with a magnum. For me, it fits my hand just perfectly.

It’s very doable these days to find magnums and double magnums at your local wine shop. Contrary to popular belief, not every big bottle is expensive. Look for varietals like Gamay, Pinot Noir, or Italian reds, and regions like Beaujolais, Chianti, Southern Rhone, and the Sonoma Coast. You can always find a good supply of Champagne and rosé in magnums — it’s hard to get more celebratory than that!

Eating the enemy

I’ve been cooking and "eating the enemy" for years. It was a tradition for every Houston Texans tailgate I’ve ever hosted. Our tailgate team, Duck Fallas, was in Blue Lot 26 every game. The idea is to take the iconic foods of your opponent, cook them and eat them to take their mojo away. I believe that the Astros won the 2022 World Series because I made Philly cheesesteaks every single game they won. The games they lost, I didn’t cook cheesesteaks. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

If you’re a Kansas City fan, it’s Philly cheesesteak time. Luckily, I have lots of tips. First, the bread. Hoagie rolls are available at any local grocery story, but if you know Montrose well, there’s a local bakery selling delicious fresh bread until 1pm every day. If you know, you know. (Editor's note: It's Royal Bakery at 1841 Fairview St.)

For the meat, head on over to H Mart. On your way to the meat department, pick up onions and Korean green peppers, which oddly enough look like long hots, a classic Philly addition to the cheesesteak. The thinly sliced ribeye traditionally used for Korean barbecue is perfect for cheesesteaks. Just season it up, chop it up, and cook it on the flat top.

For cheese, skip the argument by offering all the options — provolone, Cheese Wiz, and American. Plus, all three cheeses make the best cheesesteak anyway. Have plenty of sautéed mushrooms and onions. A friend of mine even introduced me to mayo on a cheesesteak — it’s good! Combine to make a build-your-own party.

What to pair with a cheesesteak? Gamay all day.

If you’re a Philly fan, it’s time to head to Kansas City for some barbecue! Ribs are speaking to me — I love them so much. Let’s go with pork ribs. Pick your favorite style — you’ll find them all in KC. I like to follow a 3-2-1 method: 3 hours of smoke unwrapped around 225 degrees, 2 hours wrapped in foil with a little sauce, 1 hour out of the foil back on the pit glazing with sauce. This method produces a sticky, delicious, sauce-all-over-your-face rib. Texas ribs are not traditionally as saucy, but I can respect Kansas City for requiring more napkins.

I know Kansas City is also known for their burnt ends, but I’d visit my favorite barbecue joint to buy those.

If you don’t feel like spending six hours smoking meat, they also named a steak after the city. You can’t go wrong with a Kansas City strip steak.

Suggested pairings:

  • Ribs – Champagne, yes. Rosé, yes. Pretty much anything, yes.
  • Burnt Ends – Go find yourself a Big Red [soda]. A big red wine will work, too, like a Syrah.
  • Strip Steak – It’s still Cab season, y’all.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Super Bowl. Maybe one day soon our opponents will be cooking banh mi and biryani paired with my favorite rosé to eat the enemy. Welcome home, Coach.

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Contact our Wine Guy via email at chris@chrisshepherdconcepts.com.

Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. Last year, he parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four Houston restaurants: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $10 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.