Southern Smoke 2023
Houston’s biggest, most star-studded food festival returns for 2023 with two new locations in the heart of downtown. The Southern Smoke Festival will take place October 13 and 14 with two events devoted to food, wine, and raising a lot of money for hospitality workers.
As always, the event is loaded with James Beard Award winners, top Texas chefs, and some of America’s most talented pitmasters. The event raises money for the Southern Smoke Foundation, the non-profit that Houston chef Chris Shepherd and his wife Lindsey Brown started to provide cash assistance to hospitality workers in crisis situations like medical emergencies, natural disasters, lost wages, and other unexpected events. To date, the foundation's Emergency Relief Fund has distributed more than $10 million to recipients nationwide.
The event aims to build on the success of last year’s three-day Southern Smoke Festival, the organization’s first in-person event since 2019. It raised a staggering $1,620,000.
This year’s events are:
- Friday, October 13: Respect The Rosé wine dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston
- Saturday, October 14: The Throwdown at Discovery Green
Friday night’s wine dinner revives an event that had been a staple of Southern Smoke founder Chris Shepherd’s tenure at Underbelly, the pioneering Houston restaurant where he won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. Pitched as a 007/Monte Carlo-themed event, the event will raise money for Behind You, the Southern Smoke Foundation’s program that provides no-cost mental health counseling to food and beverage workers nationwide.
Its lineup includes James Beard Award winners Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde, Chicago), Ryan Prewitt (Pêche, New Orleans), Jason Stanhope (FIG, Charleston), and Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon, New Orleans) as well as Memphis chefs Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer and acclaimed Houston pastry chef Rebecca Masson.
Tickets are priced at $500 for an individual ticket, $5,000 for a table of 10, and $7,500 for table of 10 with special wines. They go on sale June 7.
Saturday’s Throwdown will feature more than 40 chefs serving dishes made with live fire along with wine, beer, cocktails, and live music. Headliners include returning favorites such as James Beard Award winners Aaron Franklin (Franklin BBQ), Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco), and Ashley Christensen (Raleigh, NCr). Other notable chefs include Mason Hereford (Turkey & The Wolf, New Orleans), Cheetie Kumar (Ajja, Raleigh), and Top Chef fan favorite Claudette Zepeda.
New to this year’s event are Reem Assil (Reem’s California), Angel Barreto (Anju, Washington, D.C.), Ana Castro (Lengua Madre, New Orleans), Nina Compton (Compère Lapin, New Orleans), and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel (Birdie’s, Austin). They’ll be joined by a number of top Houston chefs, including Bun B (Trill Burgers), Aaron Bludorn (Bludorn), Dawn Burrell (Late August), Patrick Feges and Erin Smith (Feges BBQ), Evelyn Garcia (Jūn), Benchawan Painter (Street to Kitchen), Chris Williams (Lucille’s), and more. Participating pitmasters include Leonard Botello IV (Truth Barbeque), Matt Horn (Horn Barbecue), Evan LeRoy (LeRoy and Lewis), Greg Gatlin (Gatlin’s BBQ), Pat Martin (Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint), and the three owners of Blood Bros. BBQ, pitmaster Quy Hoang and brothers Robin and Terry Wong.
Tickets are priced at $175 for general admission and $500 for VIP, which includes early admittance, a dedicated VIP area, and more.