James Beard falls in love with Houston at sold-out Brennan's celebrity chef dinner, vows to return

Text by Sarah Rufca
Photo courtesy Brennan’s of Houston
11.05.11 | 11:59 pm

James Beard is one of the most distinguished names in the culinary world, so when New York's James Beard Foundation came to Houston, it was an event to behold. As the first Texas appearance of the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner Series, Brennan's gathered the executive chefs of the family's four restaurants — Tory McPhail of Commander's Palace, Chris Lusk of Café Adelaide, Bistro Alex's Rolando Soza and host chef Danny Trace — for a phenomenal meal.

Plating Chef Trace's grilled Nilgai antelope chop from Broken Arrow Ranch with elk sausage and baby mustard greens. According to Alex  Brennan-Martin, King Ranch and others introduced Nilgai decades ago and now have the largest population of the breed in the world.

Jeff Black, the president of the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour, said that the Brennan's dinner sold out faster than any other dinner and that the Tour would definitely be making more stops in Houston in the future.

The tour has raised $950,000 for educational programs in its eight years. At right, the chefs plate the final course, Chef Lusk's Louisiana Fig Gateau de Sirop.

Soza's phenomenally rich braised oxtail and foie gras terrine was one of the highlights of the evening.

The evening opened with a "compressed" oyster and ghost pepper-flavored caviar from McPhail.

"Never in the history of America has one city done more for another city than your city did for our city, and New Orleans will never forget it," said Ti Adelaide Martin of Commander's Palace.

The bone marrow-roasted flounder by McPhail was stuffed with shrimp  and blue crab and served over a rich white truffle and seafood broth.