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Chefs duked it out in Tailgate Throwdown at Houston Texans Grille


Benefiting Houston Food Bank and Honored Houston Restaurant weeks


Football fans and foodies flocked to Houston Texans Grille at CityCentre on Saturday, July 21st from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM, for the First Annual Tailgate Throwdown, as chefs from some of Houstonʼs most acclaimed restaurants battled it out for tailgate bragging rights just in time for football season and Houston Restaurant Weeks. Restaurants participating in the Tailgate Throwdown included 024 Grille, Branch Water Tavern, Central Market, Hay Merchant, La Fisheria, Lubyʼs Catering, The Original Ninfa's on Navigation, Pizzitola's Bar B Cue, Straits, The Tasting Room and Underbelly. Chefs showcased their favorite tailgate fare to compete in five categories.


Guests paid $20 / person to make their way through Houston Texans Grille sampling the offerings of some of Houstonʼs top chefs and had the opportunity to vote for a Fan Favorite while some of Houstonʼs most notable food writers and editors and cookbook authors judged the chefs in four categories – Most Original, Best Classic Tailgate Dish, Top Dish with a Kick and Best Overall Tailgate Dish. Proceeds benefited the Houston Food Bank. The judge panel included Syd Kearney (Houston Chronicle), Laurann Claridge (PaperCity), John DeMers (Delicious Mischief), Sarah Rufca (CultureMap), Eric Sandler (Eater Houston) and wildcard judge, Earl Mitchell, nose tackle for the Houston Texans.
Taking home prizes at the First Annual Tailgate Throwdown were the following: Most Original - John Sikhatanna, Executive Chef of Straits
Best Classic Tailgate Dish – Chris Shepherd, Executive Chef of Underbelly
Top Dish with a Kick – Aquiles Chavez, Executive Chef of La Fisheria
Best Overall Tailgate Dish – Tie between Hay Merchant and Straits
The Fan Favorite award went to Dagan Lynn and Justin Strang of 024 Grille, the new steakhouse bistro at the Westin Memorial City.


Highlights for the day included Tasting Room-CityCentre Chef Raymond Vandergaagʼs 170- pound smoked pig that he carried in on a cart and used for roasted pork tacos with tomatillo salsa and house chichorens, while Underbelly Executive Chef, Chris Shepherd, smoked several pork heads that he stuffed with boudin. He also served delectable corned beef corn dogs that were a big hit with the crown.
La Fisheriaʼs Executive Chef, Aquiles Chavez really scored with his famous spicy crab wings and Straits Executive Chef John Sikhatanna served up Bali spare ribs with Asian seafood slaw. Another Asian twist on tailgate fare was Haymerchant Chef Antoine Wareʼs Korean style chicken wings, which he served with pork tater tots. Staying true to its roots, Pizzitolaʼs Bar B Cue served its famous pork rib on a bun as well as a grilled chicken roll up. Not to be outdone, HEB rolled into Houston Texans Grille with boudin queso and a bite-sized beef wellington stuffed jalapeno.


Grilling it up on the patio were Lubyʼs and The Original Ninfaʼs on Navigation among others. Lubyʼs pleased with a tequila lime shrimp taco with smoked corn, jicama slaw and prickly pear ancho barbecue sauce, while Ninfaʼs served grilled chicken wing kabobs with a spicy tamale. Serving the most dishes to the crowd of nearly 300 was 024 Grille, which served boneless chicken wings with smoked blue cheese panna cotta, thai chili hot sauce, and micro celery salad. It also hit a home run with its barbecue pork belly potato skins with Texas cheddar foam, garnished with handmade porkskins and chives. The only restaurant to offer something sweet to the crowd, the new restaurant in the Westin Memorial City offered attendees a sticky toffee banana bread pudding, berry coulis, date butter with whisky whipped cream.


The only chef to bring in his own fryer, Branch Water Tavernʼs Executive Chef, David Grossman served up his famous chicken fried oysters with celery root slaw and Frankʼs red-hot sauce. In addition to the fabulous group of chef and restaurants participating, Cleverley Stone conducted her weekly, The Cleverley Show on Talk 650 / CBS Radio, live from “The Ownerʼs Box” at Houston Texans Grille. Sponsors included HEB, U.S. Foods, Admiral Linen, CultureMap, Dimare Produce and Katz Coffee.


Houston Texans Grill is on the second level of CityCentre across from Eddie Vʼs at 12848
Queensbury Lane, Houston, Texas, 77024