A project of the Houston Community Preparedness Collaborative
The City of Houston invites you to the 5th Annual Ready Houston Preparedness Kit Chef’s Challenge. Celebrity chefs will compete on-site to create the best dish from non-perishable food items typically found in a disaster preparedness kit. Each chef will choose from a list of canned and shelf-stable ingredients. Media judges will select and award one winner based on taste, creativity and presentation.
In addition to the cook-off, there will be emergency response equipment on display, disaster preparedness information available, and other giveaways. Come on out for a fun way to learn how to be prepared for all types of emergencies.
To learn more about how to prepare your family for emergencies, visit readyhoustontx.gov.
For questions about the challenge, email email@example.com.
2016 Video Recap
Countdown to Challenge
Quattro at Four Seasons Hotel
Restaurant: Quattro at Four Seasons Hotel
A Florida native, Chef Rafael Gonzalez has honed his considerable culinary talents throughout the United States and the Caribbean.
As executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Gonzalez directs the culinary operations of Quattro, catering and banquets, and partners with Richard Sandoval in spearheading Bayou & Bottle. Gonzalez is devoted to enhancing the culinary experience for all the hotel’s social gatherings, meetings and events. At Quattro, Gonzalez integrates fresh local produce wherever possible within the menu while taking influences from Italy.
Restaurant: Edgar's Hermano
As executive chef at Edgar’s Hermano in the Whitehall Hotel, Silvia Covarrubias’ culinary creativity consistently earns the highest praise from countless patrons and food critics alike.
Covarrubias, a native of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, is a Southern-Tex-Mex specialist, who has steadily made her mark as a talented chef in Houston hotel kitchens since 1978. Covarrubias arose from chain-hotel anonymity by demonstrating an ability to render a broad and delicious variety of modern fusion cuisine.
Restaurant: Houston Rockets
After 15 years in an uninspiring corporate job, Reynold Darthard dramatically changed his career path, earned his culinary credentials and eventually opened a catering company in 2003. By 2009, Chef Rey had fulfilled a lifelong dream — launching his own restaurant, Chef Rey’s Restaurant and Catering in Missouri City, Texas.
Today, in addition to his role as executive team chef for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Chef Rey is an author, a dedicated advocate of good nutrition and one of the busiest and best-known chefs in Houston.
The Fish, Bovine and Barley
Restaurant: The Fish, Bovine and Barley
Chef Harold Wong’s passion for food began in childhood with him helping his parents at their Chinese/Taiwanese family restaurants. Although he grew up working in his family’s restaurants, Wong was encouraged to branch out on his own. He started out as prep and eventually became executive chef for one of the biggest Japanese restaurant groups in Houston. Wong is currently executive corporate chef for the Eighty Six’d Restaurant Group consisting of The Fish, Bovine and Barley, South Bank Seafood Bar, and HTX Fan Tavern.
Winner of MasterChef U.S.
Founder & Volunteer, Houston Restaurant Weeks
Corner Table/Midtown Barbeque
Restaurant: Corner Table/Midtown Barbeque
Chef Eric Aldis launched his varied and illustrious career at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston. From working in top New Orleans restaurants to serving as executive chef on a five-star cruise ship on the Mississippi River, Aldis has earned accolades nationwide. Currently, Aldis is executive chef at Corner Table in River Oaks. He’s also culinary partner and executive chef for Agave Rio in Katy, and recently finished “Potluck,” a television cooking show pilot. Earlier this year, Aldis and pitmaster Brett Jackson opened Midtown Barbeque.
Restaurant: Peli Peli
Paul Friedman is the executive chef and owner of Peli Peli, a South African concept currently ranked in the top 10 in Houston on both Yelp and Trip Advisor. Friedman’s menu features authentic South African cuisine, along with steak, chicken and seafood favorites. Peli Peli was selected by Open Table as a 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winner for the Top 100 American-Fare Restaurants in the U.S., and Friedman was the 2013 Wine & Food Week “Chef of Chefs” Award Winner. He also has been featured on the Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and on CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup.”
Junnajet “Jett” Hurapan
Songkran Thai Kitchen
Junnajet “Jett” Hurapan
Restaurant: Songkran Thai Kitchen
Junnajet “Jett” Hurapan is an award-winning chef with a diverse culinary background that includes Thai, French Vietnamese, New American and Mediterranean. Currently, executive chef of Songkran Thai Kitchen and Songkran Thai Grill, Hurapan first reached culinary heights on the East Coast at some of the nation’s most acclaimed restaurants. Moving to Houston in 2008, Hurapan quickly won fame as a talented chef and businessman. He now has devoted patrons at Songkran Thai Kitchen and at Songkran Thai Grill in Sugar Land Town Square, where he works with his wife, Jira, the pastry chef.
Executive Chef Kenten Marin’s expertise with international cuisine complements the globally-inspired menu at Shade, a popular Houston dining favorite. Born in Green Bay, Wis., Marin moved to Peru as a small child and regularly cooked alongside his grandmother, who predicted a cooking career awaited him. Marin received an associate degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Houston and a certificate from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. In Peru, Japan and several Houston restaurants, Marin has earned notoriety preparing excellent cuisine from virtually every part of the world.
Harold’s Restaurant, Bar and Terrace
Restaurant: Harold’s Restaurant, Bar and Terrace
Antoine Ware’s aspirations of becoming a chef began in childhood. After attending Delgado Culinary School in his hometown of New Orleans, Ware honed his cooking skills at prestigious restaurants like Royal Sonesta and Mr. B’s Bistro, among others. Upon moving to Houston, Ware worked at Catalan Restaurant, and later became chef at The Hay Merchant and at The Federal Grill. Ware is currently executive chef at Harold’s Restaurant, Bar and Terrace, in the heart of the Heights, and he also oversees Alli’s Pizzeria.
Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Restaurant: Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Chef Patti, as Patti Alvarez-Burdette is known, might be petite in stature, but not in talent. She is one of the newest members of the culinary team at Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Born in El Salvador, Burdette’s family moved to the United States shortly after her birth. Burdette’s grandmother helped raise her and inspired her devotion to good cooking. Alvarez-Burdette attended Culinary Institute LeNotre and graduated top of class with an AAS in culinary arts and as salutatorian of her class.
Restaurant: Southern Goods
Patrick Feges is sous chef/pitmaster at Southern Goods, where he adds his unique barbecue touch to Southern inspired dishes. After attending the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, Feges joined Brennan’s of Houston after its reconstruction and recovery from Hurricane Ike’s damage. He later left to help open Underbelly, where he started a series of barbecue pop-ups on his days off. From there, Feges was hired as the opening pit master at Killen’s BBQ before joining the Southern Goods culinary team.
Vic & Anthony’s
Restaurant: Vic & Anthony’s
World-class dining is second nature to Carlos Rodriguez, corporate chef for Landry’s Signature Group-Restaurants. Rodriguez has worked with Landry’s, Inc. for more than 12 years, spending much of his time at Vic & Anthony’s where guests devour his famous maple-glazed quail, signature Gulf Coast cuisine, live Maine lobster, king crab and the highest quality steaks. His culinary vision has earned Vic & Anthony’s numerous awards, including Best New Restaurant, Best Steak House and Top 10 Steakhouses in the United States.
Martin Weaver is the chef de cuisine at KUU Restaurant, where he currently trains under Chef Adison Lee, honing his skills in Japanese culture and technique. A strong advocate of cooking seasonally and eating locally, Weaver can be found at farmer’s markets most Saturdays, seeking the freshest produce available to create the restaurant’s weekly menu features. Weaver has been cooking since his childhood, having worked six years at family-owned and operated barbecue restaurants. He is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
“Hell’s Kitchen” Season 11 Winner
Restaurant: “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 11 Winner
Nationally acclaimed as the winner of FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen Season 11, Ja’Nel Witt also is well-known in Houston as the former executive chef of Houston’s Corner Table. Witt’s Corner Table menus won rave reviews from diners and critics alike, and she was named one of only three Houston “Chefs to Watch in 2015” by Houstonian Magazine. Witt specializes in flavorful and unique cuisine with nods to Thai, Indian, Spanish and Latin foods along with a strong emphasis on health-oriented options, including paleo, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Restaurant: Fusion Taco
A rising star in Houston, David’s first inspiration came by his receiving a copy of Auguste Escoffier’s “Le Guide Cullinaire” and came alive while attending culinary school and subsequently working under chef Cornelius Gallagher. David honed his skills in the celebrated kitchens of Reef and Gravitas and is the former chef/owner of the nationally-acclaimed Branch Water Tavern. In July 2013, he opened the brick-and-mortar Fusion Taco with well-known chef and restaurateur Julia Sharaby.
El Big Bad
Restaurant: El Big Bad
Jonathan Jones is the well-respected executive chef of El Big Bad, a prominent downtown Houston eatery. Jones first became famous for his comfort food and exotic dishes and various styles of Mexican cuisine. He gained notoriety at several well-known and popular restaurants in Houston, including Max’s Wine Dive, Beaver’s, Concepcion, Xuxo Xicana and, most recently, Monarch Bistro at Hotel Zaza. He is an alum of the Art Institute’s culinary program.
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette
Restaurant: Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette
After graduating from culinary school, Chef Travis Lenig began his career in kitchens of some of the most popular restaurants in Houston, including Rainbow Lodge and Bistro Moderne, before taking a position at Sorrel River Ranch Resort in Moab, Utah. Chef Lenig eventually came back to Houston to serve as Executive Sous Chef at Ibiza Food and Wine Bar and then Mark’s American Cuisine. Now, Chef Lenig resides as executive chef at Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette.
Kate McLean is chef de cuisine at Tony’s, one of Houston’s most acclaimed restaurants and was recently named one of 2014’s “Top 5 Rising Chefs in the United States” by Gayot Restaurant Guide. She honed her craft in various restaurants around the US and in France before returning to her native Houston in 2010. She became Tony’s chef de cuisine last year, the first woman to hold that position in Tony’s 50-year history.
Roost / Lillo & Ella
Restaurant: Roost / Lillo & Ella
Culinary acclaim has come quickly for Chef Kevin Naderi since he opened his first restaurant, Roost, in 2011. At Roost, Naderi prepares dishes from around the world. Meanwhile, Naderi’s new Heightsarea pan-Asian spot, Lillo & Ella, offers updated Asian fare, including small plates, skewers, salads and full entrees. Naderi has also been on the game show circuit, having once appeared on an episode of the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games.
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Felice Simmons and Shanna Jones
Freelance Food and Travel Writer