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Two Houston Chefs Honored by James Beard House

Being asked to serve as guest chef at the James Beard House in New York City is as high an honor as they come for a professional chef. And now two Houston chefs -- each completely different from the other -- have been asked to cook at the famed house in Greenwich Village.

Ronnie Killen of Killen's Steakhouse will be representing Houston's unique culinary scene by serving a "Texas Gulf Coast" dinner at the Beard House on December 20.

Killen told Your Friendswood News that "the dinner will feature smoked pork and black-eyed pea gumbo, a red snapper crudo served with blood orange and pickled red and green peppers, and a mesquite-smoked Kobe beef short rib with Killen's unique spin on creamed corn." Killen also plans to serve some of his signature bread pudding and is bringing along sommelier Guy Stout to assist with wine pairings.

And yesterday, Ristorante Cavour announced that its chef, Renato De Pirro, had also been asked to serve as guest chef at the Beard House.

The Tuscan-born De Pirro arrived at Ristorante Cavour in April 2010 to replace Chef David Denis, and quickly transformed the already-successful restaurant into one of the best Italian spots in town. It won our Best of Houston® award for Best Italian Restaurant in 2010.

De Pirro will be cooking at the Beard House on December 15 along with five other Benchmark Hospitality International chefs and will be serving a seven-course dinner called "A Tour of Italy with Fork, Knife and Glass." While the Hotel Granduca is owned by Giorgio Borlenghi, Benchmark Hospitality International manages the hotel -- which houses Ristorante Cavour -- along with a line of other luxury hotels across the United States.

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According to its website, chefs are invited to cook at the James Beard House after a long process of nomination and consideration by a panel of food and wine professionals. The Beard House selects chefs who possess "national or regional reputation, as evidenced by media (electronic, print, television, radio) and resume/biography; known use of high quality, seasonal, and/or local ingredients; [and a] demonstrated excellence in a particular discipline," among other considerations.

Chefs must also submit a complete dinner proposal, which includes a full menu as well as wine selections. Menus must adhere to the James Beard House's mission, which is "to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence."


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