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Upcoming Houston Competition Showcases Caesar Salad From the Classic to the Crazy


Guy Stout, far right, co-founded The Caesar Salad Competition. "Caesar" is actually chef, owner and sommelier Peter Garcia of El Meson, surrounded by his staff.

Posted: September 25, 2018 at 6:10 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

After 34 years, it’s safe to say that the Annual Caesar Salad Competition is one of Houston’s most popular and enduring food festivities. As in previous years, the University of Houston Hilton Hotel at 4450 University is hosting the event in the Conrad Ballroom. Sixteen competing teams are going to do their utmost to secure a win in one of four categories: Best Classic, Best Presentation, Most Creative and People’s Choice.

Some of the “most creative” entries can be indeed surprising. Memorable entries from past years have included the approachable, like Creole Caesar, and the unexpected, such as Caesar Salad Cupcakes. (They weren’t bad, actually.) The event takes place on Thursday, September 27 and runs from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 if bought online in advance and $45 at the door — or, be one of the first 10 guests wearing a toga and get in free.

Chef Randy Fournier and Master Sommelier Guy Stout originally founded The Annual Caesar Salad Competition. Stout says that the idea came about when he was out to dinner over 35 years ago at the original D’Amico’s. At the time, he was the Houston chapter chair of the American Institute of Wine and Food and on the lookout for a charity event idea. “I had D’Amico’s Caesar salad and was talking about how I used to do it table side when I was still in Dallas. Paco [Calza, now at BCN Taste & Tradition] said, ‘I’ll have to try that sometime. Do you think yours is better?’ Of course, everyone thinks theirs is the best. So, he loads up a cart and I made him mine right there in the restaurant. He really enjoyed my salad.”

In the Most Creative category, chefs reimagine Caesar Salad as new dishes while keeping the spirit of the original. Photo courtesy of The Caesar Salad Competition.

Event proceeds go to the Houston Food & Beverage Managers Association scholarship fund. The scholarships help meet the educational needs of aspiring hospitality professionals attending the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management. Stout says the fund along, with matching contributions from the University of Houston, has helped raise almost half a million dollars for the Hilton College of Hospitality over the years.

The competitors are as follows:

  • 1600 Bar + Grille at Hilton Americas-Houston
  • Bazille – Nordstrom Houston Galleria
  • El Meson
  • Eric’s Restaurant at Hilton University of Houston
  • Hilton Galveston Island Resort
  • Karbach Restaurant & Patio
  • Le Bistro at Culinary Institute LeNôtre
  • Quattro at Four Seasons Hotel Houston
  • San Luis Resort & Spa
  • Sud Italia
  • The Remington at The St. Regis Houston
  • Topgolf Spring
  • University of Houston – Alumni Team
  • University of Houston Dining Services
  • Walker Street Kitchen at Marriott Marquis
  • Westin Houston Downtown

With the exception of the People’s Choice, salads in each category are being judged by a group of food media professionals. They are editor and publisher Phaedra Cook of Houston Food Finder (yep, that’s me), food editor Eric Sandler of CultureMap, former food editor of the Houston Chronicle Ann Criswell, dining editor Timothy Malcolm of Houstonia, Fox 26 Cooking with Cleverley and host of “The Cleverley Show” Cleverley Stone, food and travel writer Mai Pham and Houston Press freelance writer Carlos Brandon.

Easy parking is available in the U of H Hilton garage. Tickets are available for purchase online until noon on the event date and afterward can be purchased onsite.

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