Many of the country's best chefs and masters of smoked meats gathered in Houston for the Southern Smoke Festival. This year's festival again benefited the Multiple Sclerosis cause. Last year the event decided to direct Southern Smoke profits to those in the food and beverage industry affected by Hurricane Harvey. This year's goal was $300,000 to the MS Society as well as establishing an emergency assistance fund for food and beverage industry workers. Chefs Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin and Ryan Prewitt of Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans returned, along with a few new faces:
Daniela Soto-Innes: The James Beard Awnedard-winning chef of Cosme in New York is also chef/partner of Atla in New York. She got her start here in Houston with stints at Brennan's of Houston, Triniti and Underbelly.
Chris Bianco: Considered one of the world's finest pizza makers, he's the owner of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix. The James Beard Award-winning chef is considered the driving force of America's artisanal pizza movement. He also is the owner of Bar Bianco, Pane Bianco and Tratto in Phoenix.
Edouardo Jordan: The owner of JuneBaby and Salere in Seattle, Jordan won Best Chef Northwest at this year's James Beard Awards for Salare while JuneBaby nabbed Best New Restaurant. Jordan was named Food & Wine's Best new Chefs in 2016; JuneBaby was named Best New Restaurant by the same publication in 2018.
Bill Durney: The owner of Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn, N.Y., Durney helped solidify the New York barbecue movement. He currently is working on opening Hometown Pan Fired Chicken and a Jewish-style deli, both in Brooklyn, and a live fire and barbecue restaurant in Miami.
Vivian Howard: The owner of The Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, N.C., Howard is the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-winning producer of "A Chef's Life" on PBS. She also is the author of the cookbook "Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South" which was named Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Jason Vincent: Vincent's restaurant, Giant, was named one of the Best New Restaurants in 2017 by Bon Appetit. He and his partners recently launched City Mouse restaurant in the Ace Hotel Chicago.
Pat Martin: The owner of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville is a master of whole hog barbecue. Last year he also opened Hugh-Baby's BBQ & Burger Shop in Nashville. He is a member of the Fatback Collective which advocates heritage breed livestock.
Sam Jones: A third-generation whole hog barbecue cooker, Jones is the owner of Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, N.C. In 2012 he was named one of the "Top Ten Pitmasters in the South" by Southern Living. His family owns Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., a standard bearer for wood-cooked eastern North Carolina-style barbecue. This year he was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef Southeast.
Southern Smoke also featured the cooking talents of the HOUBBQ Collective (Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of The Pass & Provisions, Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, Justin Yu of Theodore Rex, Ryan Pera of Agricole Hospitality, Hugo Ortega of Hugo's, Erin Smith and Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ, Brandi Key of Lasco Enterprises, Lyle Bento formerly of Southern Goods and Chris Shepherd of UB Preserv and One Fifth.