Not even yesterday's exotic temperatures could stop more than 100 fine folks from celebrating at OIMBY, a backyard banquet celebrating some of Houston's finest local chefs and vendors. Like most of the vendors themselves, OIMBY has humble roots: Several months ago, as a few people discussed the rocketing prices of the renowned Outstanding in the Field dinners, Houstonian David Leftwich declared that he didn't need that expense -- he'd rather have Outstanding In My Back Yard. His off-the-cuff comment morphed into an inspiring event that brought out the philanthropic side in us all. A $40 ticket bought you a galactic feast, 75 percent sourced, donated, and prepared by local chefs and vendors. And perhaps best of all, all proceeds -- every last dime - will go to the Houston Food Bank.
The backyard event painted a lovely picture of some of Houston's most outgoing gastronomes, all coming together in a celebration of what's local, communal and seasonal. Guests walked in to a packed buffet of sunshine prepared by dozens of favorite amateur chefs -- angelic boudin kolaches, heavenly deviled eggs, smooth mushroom and goat cheese crostinis, tempting zucchini-squash tarts, and a tangy micro green salad, among scores of other culinary gems.
Beaver's chef Jonathan Jones dished up a glorious vat of ceviche using Gulf seafood provided by Louisiana Foods. The hint of coconut milk brought out a creamy sweetness that beautifully complemented the glaring outdoor heat. And heat there was, not only from the heavens above, but also from the Revival Meats hog roasted over hellfire for several hours by Justin Basye and his crew from Stella Sola. We cracked through the tough skin to unlock a treasure box of tender, meaty joy that made us wonder if we should maybe just cook a backyard pig every day.
Vic & Anthony's provided a tray of au gratin potatoes, and local chef Michael O'Connor wowed us with a crunchy, creamy mac-and-cheese. There was locally-sourced beef prepared by Hugo Ortega, Executive Chef of Hugo's and Backstreet Café, and gorgeous local veggies from Utility Research Garden and Wood Duck Farms. Still got room? The surprise dessert of the day was a tray of pork fat beignets topped with loquat jam from Textile pastry chef extraordinaire Plinio Sandalio.
Guests received not only a bellyful of indelible delicacies, but also a renewed community pride. OIMBY was a feel-good event in which all contributors worked tirelessly to celebrate the things they all love: local vendors, local chefs, local flair... What a delicious combination.
For more photos from OIMBY, check out our slideshow.