The national culinary spotlight continues to shine on Houston as StarChefs.com has named a dozen local food and beverage professionals for its 2011 Rising Star Awards. The online magazine for culinary insiders singled out Houston, Chicago, Portland, Ore., and New York as this year’s top food cities with outstanding culinary professionals. It is the first time Houston has been recognized by the magazine’s Rising Star Awards program.
“There’s more depth and food culture here than people realize,” said Will Blunt, managing editor of StarChefs.com, adding that his recent visit to take in H-town’s dining scene was long overdue. “What I really love about Houston is that these chefs are really excited about what they’re doing, and they’re all supportive of each other and working to a higher level. It’s smart because they’re making this a better marketplace for each other.”
The 2011 Houston Rising Star Award winners include:
Rising Chefs: Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi, Kata Robata; David Grossman, Branch Water Tavern; Jeramie Robison, Restaurant Cinq; Randy Rucker, Bootsie’s Heritage Café; Seth Seigel-Gardner, Kata Robata; Chris Shepherd, Catalan Food and Wine
Sustainability Chef: Jamie Zelko, Zelko Bistro
Community Chef: Randy Evans, Haven
Host Chef: Maurizio Ferrarese, Quattro
Sommelier: Sean Beck: Hugo’s, Backstreet Café
The Rising Stars will be celebrated at a gala and awards ceremony at 7 p.m. March 17 at Four Seasons Houston. Tickets are $95 per person ($125 for VIP, which includes a pre-event reception) and available at StarChefs.com/tickets.
Blunt said about 60 local candidates were visited and considered for the award. During the process, Blunt said he continued to be impressed by the culinary talent in Houston.
“It’s a fantastic food city. I don’t think it has gotten near the attention it deserves,” he said. “The chefs here are pretty focused on what they’re doing and not so much driven by trends. A lot of the stereotypes and outsider mind-set about what Houston might be were blown away. This is fantastic food.”