A 20th Anniversary event calls for glitter and glam. It calls free flowing libations, scrumptious cuisine and opulent surroundings. And when we look back on 2017’s Signature Chefs Gala — a culinary fundraiser for the Houston-area March of Dimes that has raised more than $8 million towards the charity’s research efforts to prevent premature births over the last 20 years — it was indeed all that and then some.
Held at the The Corinthian in downtown Houston, the majestic venue had been transformed into roaring '20s-themed fête, complete with crystal chandeliers. and tables that had been set with feathered centerpieces and delicate, gold-tipped china. At the top of the stairwell entrance, attendees were greeted by a multi-tiered display of champagne glasses arranged to look like wedding cake. On the main floor, a hostess on stilts was decked out in a shiny gold flapper outfit. In the center of the room, suspended from the ceiling, a girl dressed in a sparkly stretch leotard waved charmingly from her perch inside a giant gilded birdcage.
The program was split into two parts, with a walk-around tasting to begin, followed by a sit-down two-course seated dinner. Of the ten stations, I was able to make it to eight during the walkaround tasting.
The tastings included apricot pork belly with jicama slaw and confit potatoes by Hilda Ysusi of Broken Barrel; barbacoa tacos by Arnaldo Richard’s Pico’s Restaurant; pork bolognese with lima bean tortellini by Antoine Ware of Harold’s Restaurant, Bar & Terrace; short rib mini tostadas and crab cakes by James Cole of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse; salmon encroute by Dmitri Voutsinas of the upcoming Emmaline; the most delectable bites of Norwegian salmon nigiri hand-formed by Adison Lee of KUU restaurant; and an incredible shrimp creole tamale.
Due to the time constraints, I missed the Pax Americana station for Martha de Leon’s house-made ricotta, The Pit Room’s brisket sliders, and the chicken fried steak from Hofbrau Steaks & Seafood table, though I did manage to get a margarita. Wine, beer, and Bee's Knees cocktails by Roxor gin were also available.
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During the seated portion of the event, white-gloved servers provided synchronized service of spaghetti with shaved truffles by Danny Trace of Potente, and spiced lamb chops with kale and sweet potato gnocchi by Jackson & Co. while the speakers introduced the honorees and a live auction took place for luxury packages like a South African Safari for three, or a 16-person steak lesson and steak tasting by chef Robert del Grande of Cafe Annie.
The night ended on a sweet note with mini bundt cakes by Nothing But Bundt and coffee and doughnuts by Morningstar.
Thanks to the generous donations made that evening, the Signature Chefs Gala raised more than $400k for the March of Dimes.
Awards were also bestowed upon Chef Joe Cervantes of Brennan’s, who took home top culinary honors for his shrimp creole tamale. Emmaline's team was also recognized for Best Presentation.