The 20th anniversary season of the Houston Culinary Awards has officially started! And all are invited to attend the ceremony and celebrate the city’s culinary stars.

Visitors should begin at, which is both the HCA voting website and the place to buy tickets ($185) to the Houston Culinary Awards gala dinner set for Sunday, October 2, downtown at The Corinthian. You will also find details about the celebrity bartender and chef team who will actually prepare the HCA dinner, enjoy photos from last year’s event, peruse the list of past winners (some categories go back to 1997) and learn about a new feature this year, the Grant Gordon Initiative for Chefs.

Since founding the Houston Culinary Awards in 1997, My Table magazine has grown the annual awards program from a small cocktail party with four awards to a gala seated dinner for 340. These are Houston’s most prestigious awards in the local food, hospitality, wine and beverage world. This year a total of 10 Houston Culinary Awards will be presented, and 13 Houston Foodie Star Awards – a category of casual “favorites” awards introduced in 2010 – will also be announced.

THE LEGENDS OF HOUSTON RESTAURANTS AWARD: In addition to the Houston Culinary Awards, each year a prominent Houstonian is selected to receive a special award that celebrates his or her lifetime contribution to the local restaurant industry. This Legends of Houston Restaurants Award has been given to restaurant operators, food writers, wine educators, culinarians and philanthropists. Past honorees have included Brock Wagner (founder of Saint Arnold Brewing Company), Jim Goode (founder of the Goode Company group of restaurants), Jim Gossen (founder of Louisiana Foods Global Seafood Source and ecological champion), Alex Brennan-Martin (philanthropist and owner of Brennan’s of Houston) and the Houston Chronicle’s award-winning restaurant writer Alison Cook. Tony and Donna Vallone received the 2015 Legends of Houston Restaurants Award.

The 2016 Legends award will be presented to Felix Florez, founder of Black Hill Meats and Ranch to Kitchen and partner at Ritual. Florez, a one-time wine director at Brennan’s of Houston, left the white-tablecloth world for an even more labor-intensive career and began ranching full-time in 2010. Since then his Cypress-area company, Black Hill Meats, has been providing humanely raised heritage livestock to the Texas restaurant community. Ranch to Kitchen offers Houstonians home delivery of the same high-quality meats. For full details about the Legends award, click here

THE GRANT GORDON INITIATIVE FOR CHEFS: In honor of the late Grant Gordon  a young Houston chef who was a Houston Culinary Award finalist and chef team member, a James Beard Award semi-finalist and a Forbes “30 Under 30” honoree in the food and wine field, The Grant Gordon Initiative For Chefs, Inc. will award $5,000 to a Houston-area chef or individual in the hospitality industry who has gone through a crisis or hardship, be it due to an illness or other reason. After voting for the Houston Culinary Awards, voters will be invited to click through to another website in order to nominate an individual who is part of Houston’s hospitality family whom they believe would benefit from this gift. The Gordon family, who created the foundation, will share the recipient’s story with the guests at the HCA dinner. Learn more about the Grant Gordon Foundation here

THE DINNER: Traditionally up-and-coming Houston stars — contemporary stand-outs who have taken home honors in previous years — and industry leaders who have helped put Houston on the national culinary map are in charge of the cocktail reception and dinner service. Their job is to prepare cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner for all the guests (no pressure, right?) before the awards ceremony begins and the winners are announced. Here is this year’s team:

Cocktail Reception

  • Justin Burrow, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge
  • Richard Middleton, Brennan’s of Houston
  • Rob Crabtree, Armadillo Palace and Goode Co. Restaurants
  • Richard Knight, Hunky Dory
  • Alex Padilla, Ninfa’s on Navigation

Dinner Service

  • Addison Lee, Kuu
  • Bobby Matos, State of Grace
  • Jackson Hicks, Jackson & Company
  • Susan Molzan, Petite Sweets
  • Greenway Coffee & Tea team

Take-away treat

  • Rebecca Masson, Fluff Bake Bar

TICKETS: The Houston Culinary Awards dinner tickets are now on sale!,The cost is $185 per person, and a table of 10 is $1,850. Tickets can be purchased at


Information provided by My Table Magazine.

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