Sous chef Mark Mavrantonis and Chef Alex Padilla of Ninfa's on Navigation. Photo by Joanne Witt
Soma was really hopping last night as around 300 foodies and industry folks gathered to watch eleven of Houston’s top chefs vie for the best ceviche in town. (See photos of the crowd here.) The event, sponsored by the Houston Chowhounds, was also accompanied by an online and live auction to raise money for Gulf Coast Fisherman. While the final tally is not available yet, early results show that over $30,000 was raised.
The competition involved eleven chefs, representing numerous popular Houston depots for fresh fish. While the majority of the restaurants that the chefs were showcasing are just a few years old, it was Chef Padilla of landmark Ninfa’s on Navigation that stole first place with his creative and clean-tasting dish. The other top winners included chefs from newbie Ocean’s and ever popular Kata Robata.
First place: Chef Alex Padilla and sous chef Mark Mavrantonis of Ninfa's on Navigation. Photo by Joanne Witt.
- First place: Chef Alex Padilla and sous chef Mark Mavrantonis of Ninfa's on Navigation with a spectacular dish of salt-cured Barramundi and live sea scallop ceviche with freshly-squeezed citrus, passionfruit and truffled sea salt
Second place: Edwin Chanas, sous chef and Abel Franco, ceviche chef of Ocean’s with Amberjack marinated in leche de tigre and wrapped in roasted pineapple. Photo by Joanne Witt.
- Second place: Edwin Chanas, sous chef and Abel Franco, ceviche chef of Ocean’s with Amberjack marinated in leche de tigre and wrapped in roasted pineapple, topped with avocado mousse, jalapeno foam and picked radishes and served with a pico de gallo of coconut, pineapple, jicama, cucumbers and yuzu juice.
Third place: Chefs Manabu “Hori-san” Horiuchi and Philippe Gaston of Kata Robata. Photo by Joanne Witt.
- Third place: Chefs Manabu “Hori-san” Horiuchi and Philippe Gaston of Kata Robata with Texas peach Yuzu Seafood Ceviche with Gobo Chips
Other chefs participating and all worthy of honerable mention were:
- Seth Siegel-Gardner of Just August Project/Guerilla Kitchen, sous chef: Hannah Gutstein
- LJ Wiley of Yelapa Playa Mexicana, sous chef: Vincent Huynh
- Hugo Ortega of Hugo's & Backstreet Café, sous chef: Ruben Ortega
- Jason Hauck of Soma Sushi, sous chef: Joseph Herrera
- David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern, sous chef: Adam Dorris
- Justin Basye of Stella Sola, sous chef: Kenten Marin
- Jonathan Jones of Beaver's, sous chef: Larry De La Flor
- Randy Rucker of Bootsie's Heritage Café, sous chefs: Ben Rabbini and Marcus Clayton
The impressive panel of judges included many well known food connoisseurs:
- Chef Michael Cordúa, America's/Churrascos
- Chef Pedro Garcia , El Meson
- Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle
- Teresa Byrne-Dodge, My Table Magazine
- Brett Anderson, The Times-Picayune
- Mai Pham, wild card judge