On April 13, the second annual Big Taste of Houston benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Houston will take place at The Corinthian downtown. The annual food extravaganza will feature live music, dancing, free-flowing alcohol and tasting samples from more than 20 of Houston's best restaurants.
Last year's event was a such a success that the title sponsor, Audi Central Houston, donated an Audi Q5 (valued at more than $40,000) to be raffled off in support of this year's fundraising efforts. Raffle tickets are still available for purchase on the BBBS website, and will be available for sale until the raffle is drawn at 6:30 p.m. on the night of the event.
Additionally, for the second year in a row, the event is bringing back Adam Goldberg, author of the wildly popular blog A Life Worth Eating, as one of its celebrity judges. Master Chef 2012 winner Christine Ha; Greg Morago, food editor of the Houston Chronicle; and Courtney Bond, associate editor of Texas Monthly, round out the judges' panel.
In anticipation of the event, Goldberg was kind enough to grant Eating...Our Words an interview, letting us take a small peek into his amazing life as @LifeWorthEating. He also shares his impressions about the Houston food scene and what he'll be looking for as a judge at this weekend's event.
EOW: You travel all over the world and dine at the best restaurants. Where have you visited so far in the past year?
AG: This year is flying by, but so far I've travelled to Japan, China, Tibet and Mexico. In the U.S.: Philadelphia; Miami; Princeton, New Jersey; Miami; Chicago; and San Francisco. I live in New York, so not sure if that counts.
EOW: How do you decide which restaurants to visit? Do you have an itinerary? Is it via personal recommendation or do you follow a list, like The World's Best?
AG: I used to make an itinerary before visiting a city for the first time, usually from a combination of word of mouth and a bit of research. But this started to become more of a burden than aid; now I keep a very loose mental list of restaurants, coffee shops and food stalls I'd like to visit and try to learn as much as possible while there.
EOW: Speaking of that list, how many of them have you visited?
AG: I've been to most of them. That list is always changing, but so far more than half of the 2013 list.
EOW: What kind of food do you enjoy the most?
AG: Sushi. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life. It's minimalist and unadulterated, with no room to hide imperfections in ingredient quality or technique. I'm also trying to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine, which is one of the reasons I'm so excited to visit Houston.
EOW: What has been your most memorable meal, and why?
AG: My most memorable meal was my first time at elBulli in 2010. The food was innovative and thought-provoking, but it was the cumulative experience, from the winding drive through Cala Montjoi to the beautiful sunny afternoon on the seaside terrace, that made it memorable. Another meal that comes to mind was last summer at Blue Hill Stone Barns. A large percentage of the ingredients were harvested that same day from the property. After the vegetable-focused dinner, we sat outside on the pasture drinking coffee and catching fireflies as the sun set. There are many great restaurants out there, but the best restaurant experiences have a unique way of integrating time and place with original and delicious food.
EOW: For someone who's really into food, what do you think is the best destination? Where/what do they HAVE to eat when they get there?
AG: Mexico City. It's the largest kitchen in the world, as food is such an integral part of Mexican culture. There are great options everywhere, from casual tacos and quesadillas in the markets to high-end dining at restaurants like Pujol and Quintonil. A trip is incomplete without a taco al pastor, fire-roasted pork seasoned in adobo spices, eaten in a corn tortilla with onion, cilantro, a wedge of pineapple and splash of salsa. The guisados, or local "stews," are worth a trip alone. They're usually the first thing I eat when I land, with my bags still in hand.
EOW: Last year, you were invited to Houston to be a judge in Big Taste of Houston. Did you know anything about the Houston food scene before then? What made you decide to accept?
AG: I travel to Mexico a lot, and usually fly through Houston. But last year was my first time outside the airport. I didn't realize how much I was missing out. Houston has access to very high-quality ingredients that make it a notable culinary destination.
EOW: Based on your experience during your last visit, what would you tell someone who hasn't been to Houston about the restaurants and food here?
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AG: Houston should be getting a lot more attention than it does. It's doing its own thing. Before I visited, I thought the food scene revolved purely around barbecue. And thankfully this is still a big part of it, but there's so much more. Restaurants like Oxheart showcase local vegetables. Blacksmith has some great coffee. And the Vietnamese food is on the same level as San Jose, Garden Grove and Westminster, California.
EOW: We're glad to have you back as a judge in this year's Big Taste competition. As a judge, what will you be looking for from this year's participating chefs?
AG: Presentation and creativity are important, but at the end of the day, the dish has to taste great.
Big Taste of Houston takes place this Sunday, April 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. For more information on the participating restaurants, or how to purchase tickets to the event, please visit: www.bbbstx.org/bigtaste