Honey-dips, last night the food gods rained down some serious eats on our city by way of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, at Culturemap’s Last Chef Standing event. It was truly the thing food porn dreams are made of when we can actually touch, feel, and taste’em! Dishes like – Foie Gras Butter, Smoked Pork Jowl with Corn and Fennel Pudding, Blueberry Cebiche, Grits and Grillades…EXACTLY, straight-up food porn. A true reflection of the burgeoning Houston culinary community, Last Chef Standing featured a collection of up-and-coming and established chefs, representing some of the most popular restaurants in town. This year’s lineup included:

  • Chef Jason Bessent, Houston Texans Grille
  • Chef Kevin Bryant, Eleven XI
  • Chef Jon Buchanan, Trevisio
  • Chef Roberto Castre, Latin Bites
  • Chef Jake Ellis, J. BLACK’S Feel Good Kitchen and Lounge
  • Executive Chef Maurizio Ferrarese, Quattro at The Four Seasons Hotel
  • Chef Ryan Hildebrand, Triniti
  • Executive Chef Peter Laufer, Royal Sonesta Hotel
  • Chef Jonathan Leblanc, The Tasting Room Uptown Park
  • Executive Chef Ben McPherson, Batanga
  • Chef Dylan Murray, Local Foods
  • Chef Michael Pellegrino, Max’s Wine Dive
  • Chef Carlos Rodrigues, Vic & Anthony’s
  • Chef Chandler Rothbard, Roots Bistro
  • Chef Joseph Stayshich, Benjy’s Rice Village

The folks with the hardest job of the night were the judges, because they had to pick a judge’s choice winner from this room of amazing dishes! The celebrity judges included Mix 96.5 radio personality Blake Hayes, KHOU News personalities Lily Jang and Katherine Whaley, local food television and radio personality Cleverley Stone, CultureMap lifestyle correspondent Marcy de Luna and Eater Houston’s editor, Eric Sandler. So, after a few hours of hair pulling, body slamming, and knockdown drag-out ass kickings (maybe we are being a wee-bit dramatic), they finally picked a winner.

Chef Kevin Bryant of Eleven XI wowed the crowds with a combination of yellow tail sashimi, blue corn miso-infused grits, seaweed salad, and crushed Lay’s potato chips. This busy dish did not disappoint and must have done the trick as Chef Bryant took home the Last Chef Standing Judge’s Choice. The People’s Choice went to Gilbert Angel of Local Foods (truffle-infused egg salad sandwich) and as announced earlier in the week, the online People’s Choice Winner was Chef Roberto Castre of Latin Bites. Latin Bites didn’t take home an additional win last night, but Chef Castre is one of the best in the business when it comes to Cebiche and his Blueberry version was a winner in our book.

Between the endless indulging in not only food, but drinks, from some our favorites (like Dripping Springs Vodka), we did get a chance to snap some real life food porn. It would only be fair to share and we didn’t want you to miss out on any of this! In addition, Smilebooth was there taking photos of all the beautiful people.


Urban Swank did receive complimentary passes, but the opinions expressed are our own.

The Urban Swank Girls


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