A Big James Beard Food & Wine Festival is Coming to Sugar Land

The first Bazaar Food and Wine Festival is set to take place on May 18 at Sugar Land Town Square — located at 15958 City Walk — with global food and beverage offerings from 5 to 8 p.m. Presented by the Dallas-based Rebees Management Company, Momentum BMW and the James Beard Foundation, the event brings together over 30 celebrated chefs from across the Greater Houston area to celebrate six different regions that have left a lasting impact on the city’s culinary scene: Latin America, India and Pakistan, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Europe and Texas. Tickets are $150 for general admission and $200 for VIP admission, and may be purchased online. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the James Beard Foundation.

“I spent almost my entire career in high-end food and beverage and chef-driven restaurants all over the country. Most of my career was in New York City and Los Angeles, both very diverse communities, both very diverse cities,” says Matt Ragan, Director of Experience for Rebees. “What struck me when I came to Houston is that it’s a true melting pot. New York is hyper-diverse, but it’s almost a bento box. Houston has meshed its multi-ethnic, multicultural communities together in a wonderful and complete way.”

Victoria Elizondo
Victoria Elizondo of Cochinita & Co. Photo by Trish Badger.

Some of the featured chefs include 2024 James Beard semifinalists Victoria Elizondo of Cochinita & Co and Benchawan Painter of Street to Kitchen (who also won Best Chef: Texas in 2023), 2024 semifinalist Yotam Dolev of Sof Hospitality Group’s steakhouse Hamsa, as well as previous James Beard semifinalists Dawn Burell and Kaiser Lashkari of Himalaya. Other locally known faces in the Houston food scene are scheduled to appear, such as the Tcholakian Family of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Mayank Istwal of Musaafer, Cory Nguyen of Crawfish & Noodles, David Guerrero of Andes Cafe, Bruno Amato of B.B. Italia, Sharan Gahunia of Raja Sweets, Martin Weaver of Mi Tierra, Cori Xiong of Mala Sichuan Bistro, Tom Cunanan of Soy Pinoy and Belen Bailey of Sweets by Belen, among others. 

The Bazaar Food and Wine Festival website has a full list of participants. 

Belen Bailey of Sweets By Belen
Sweets By Belen has been selected for Pepsi’s program that’s helping Hispanic-owned businesses — and it could not come at a better time. Photo by Phaedra Cook.

“I’m so intrigued and excited by Houston’s food scene. It’s got such depth and diversity, and it’s constantly evolving,” Ragan says of the participating talent. Rebees previously hosted the Nowhere Somewhere Supper Club event in Sugar Land in July 2023, so he has experience showcasing Houston’s culinary talent. 

The Bazaar Food and Wine Festival will be organized into six different “neighborhoods” based on the highlighted regions. Visitors will enter via “Texas” before branching out to sample the cuisines that have come to define Houston’s overall “flavor.” In addition to food and wine, entertainment will be provided by Dance Houston’s Ballet Folklorico, country singer Sheila Marshall and others. Lee’s Golden Dragon will conclude the evening with dragon and lion dances.

Ragan moved to Houston from Dallas in 2020 and continues to be excited by all the cultures he’s surrounded by daily. He hopes that Bazaar Food and Wine will be one of many more events that he and Rebees can organize to spotlight the people who have come to shape Houston.

“When Houstonians find out that you’re not from Houston, it’s the first thing they want to tell you: ‘Oh, it’s so diverse. And it’s such a great melting pot, and we’re so proud of it!’” Ragan says. “I love, love, love that.”

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