The 2015 Houston Culinary Awards, hosted by My Table magazine, was held at The Houstonian last night and 25 awards were handed out, as well as the annual Legends Of Houston Restaurants award. The ceremony, a veritable "who's who" in the Houston restaurant and bar industry, had more than 300 attendees. It's an event where chefs have a rare opportunity to get out of their chef whites, to be served and to socialize with their co-workers, employees, peers and fans.
The proceedings started on an emotional note, as My Table's associate publisher and creative director, Taylor Byrne-Dodge, announced at the beginning of the ceremony that a portion of the ticket proceeds would be donated to the Grant Gordon Foundation. Gordon, a chef whose tenure at Tony's put his career on a fast track of success, committed suicide just over a year ago. The loss of the bright young man was a blow to Houston's restaurant community, and Byrne-Dodge teared up as she explained that Gordon had also been a former high school classmate of hers.
This year, Tony and Donna Vallone received the Legends Of Houston Restaurant award. Their landmark restaurant Tony's is celebrating its 50th year in business. The original location on Sage Road opened in 1965 and to this day is known for its impeccable service and luxurious perspective on fine Italian dining. The couple's steakhouse, Vallone's, opened in the Memorial Gateway center in December 2013.
Some of the biggest winners of the evening: Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse, Killen's Barbecue and the forthcoming Killen's Burger (all in Pearland) landed the Restaurateur Of The Year Award, and Ryan Pera of Coltivare and Revival Market won Chef of the Year. (In 2014, Killen won both Chef of the Year and Favorite Barbecue.)
It sounds odd for chef Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of The Pass & Provisions to have won "Up & Coming Chef of the Year." After all, the duo were James Beard semi-finalists last year. However, chefs 35 and under are eligible, and they made it under the age threshold to add another award to their collection. (The duo won Restaurateur of the Year in 2013.)
Weights + Measures took a whopping three awards last night, the most of any recipient: Best Interior Design for the restaurant's fun, kitschy, '70s decor; Favorite Late Night Spot; and Outstanding Bar Service. (Weights + Measures also provided the entertainment for the evening, as the acceptance speeches got more R-rated as the night wore on.)
Longtime Houston chef Mark Holley and his staff proudly walked away with the Best New Restaurant prize for Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, while 32-year-old Backstreet Cafe was deemed a Houston Classic.
Here's the complete list of all of last night's winners:
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Houston Culinary Awards
- Restaurateur Of The Year: Ronnie Killen
- Chef Of The Year: Ryan Pera
- Up-And-Coming Chef Of The Year: Terrance Gallivan & Seth Siegel-Gardner
- Outstanding Wine Service: Underbelly
- Pastry Chef Of The Year: Rebecca Masson
- Outstanding Bar Service: Weights + Measures
- Service Person Of The Year: Steven McDonald
- Houston Classic: Backstreet Cafe
- Best Interior Design: Weights + Measures
- Best New Restaurant: Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Houston Foodie Star Awards
- Favorite Bakery: Petite Sweets
- Favorite Barbecue: Jackson Street Bbq
- Favorite Bartender: Terry Williams
- Favorite Breakfast: La Guadalupana
- Favorite Burger: Pappas Burger
- Favorite Coffeehouse: Common Bond
- Favorite Farmer’s Market Vendor: Blue Heron Farm
- Favorite Food Truck: Tacos Tierra Caliente
- Favorite Late Night Spot: Weights + Measures
- Favorite Mom & Pop Ethnic: Arnaldo Richards’ Picos
- Favorite Outdoor Dining: The Grove
- Favorite Pub Or Bar: Julep
- Favorite Supermarket: Sprouts Farmers Market
- Favorite Sweets/Ice Cream: Cloud 10 Creamery
- Favorite Wine Seller: Richard’s Liquors & Fine Wines