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Chris Shepherd's Southern Smoke 2017 Will Benefit Harvey Relief for Hospitality Industry

Pitmasters Rodney Scott and Patrick Feges flip a whole hog.
Pitmasters Rodney Scott and Patrick Feges flip a whole hog. Photo by Catchlight Photography
Southern Smoke, the exclusive fundraising event that's raised more than half a million dollars in three years for those living with multiple sclerosis, will redirect its fundraising efforts to Hurricane Harvey relief this year.

"Right now, we need to focus on our city," the event's founder, chef Chris Shepherd, announced in a press release. "Houstonians are fighters, and we are going to fight for our city. It's going to take a lot to make Houston whole again. I want to bring the country together — whether you can attend this event or not — for my city, my hometown. We're Houston strong!"

The event, which happens on Sunday, October 22, turns the area around Underbelly, Hay Merchant and Blacksmith into a raucous street party from 4 to 8 p.m. This year's event features an evening of great wine and beer from around the world and, of course, a delicious food lineup from incredible guest chefs and pitmasters, including the following:

  • Aaron Franklin, Franklin's Barbecue in Austin
  • Rodney Scott, Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ Rodney Scott in Charleston
  • Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s and more in Raleigh
  • Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope, FIG Restaurant in Charleston
  • John Besh, Besh Group (August, Shaya, Willa Jean and more) in New Orleans
  • HOUBBQ Collective including Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of The Pass and Provisions, Ryan Pera of Coltivare, Justin Yu of Better Luck Tomorrow and Public Services Wine and Whisky and Chris Shepherd

Southern Smoke will partner with fellow nonprofit Legacy Community Health to provide emergency assistance through an application process for employees of the culinary and beverage community and their suppliers affected by the hurricane. Details on how to apply will be announced soon.

VIP tickets are $350, which includes early entry, premium wines and a gift bag with participating chefs’ cookbooks. General admission is $200. Tickets for Southern Smoke 2017 can be purchased online at, and you can also text SouthernSmoke4Harvey to 243725 to donate to Harvey Relief as well.

The MS Society will resume as the beneficiary of Southern Smoke Spring 2018 as well as a fall festival next year. Guests who purchased tickets to Southern Smoke 2017 and would prefer their donation dollars remain with the MS Society will receive a refund.
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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.