Chefs From Some of the Best Texas Restaurants Are Giving You Great Reasons for a Road Trip — Updated

Felix Florez and Jean-Phillipe Gaston

Founded in 2016 by public relations consultant Jonathan Beitler, Rockin’ Star Ranch’s Elaine Dillard and chef Jason Kerr, The Butcher’s Ball has become a premiere showcase for Texas’s top chefs and pitmasters. Each year, the event, which now attracts crowds of avid diners to Rockin’ Star Ranch’s pastoral setting in Brenham, has grown. This year is no exception. The Fourth Annual Butcher’s Ball on October 20 is adding a chefs’ dinner the night before the main festivities and will feature over 50 industry professionals. This culinary extravaganza not only brings attendees closer to the people who produce food in Texas, it also raises funds for non-profit organization Urban Harvest, which organizes farmers markets, conducts gardening education at schools, and helps maintain community gardens in the Houston area.

General admission tickets for Butcher’s Ball festivities on Sunday are $100 and are available online. Information for the dinner, VIP tickets and a limited-availability staycation package are below. In addition, there is a convenient shuttle service running from both Houston and Austin. The cost of being chauffeured is only $50.

NOTE: Our readers can use code HFFBALLER to get 20% off VIP and general admission event tickets through Labor Day, September 2. 

Adam Dorris at the 2018 Butcher's Ball
Coterie and Lotti Dotti executive chef Adam Dorris minds the chickens. Photo by Daniel Jackson.

Butcher’s “Baller” Dinner

Saturday, October 19, 6 p.m. 

For the first time, the Butcher’s Ball participants are organizing a big feast the night before the main event. At least a dozen top Houston chefs are teaming up in pairs make dishes, each paired with beer, wine or a cocktail. Cocktail hour starts at 6 p.m. and dinner begins at 7 p.m.

Chefs confirmed for the Baller Dinner so far:

Afterward, the guests can attend an after-party at 9 p.m. with cocktails and desserts served in the Butcher’s Ball Chef Camp hosted by Revive Development and Gin Designs. Tickets cost $150 per person and proceeds benefit Urban Harvest.

Butcher’s Ball winner Tony Luhrman of El Topo, center, holds up his prize for his first-place win at the 2018 event. Photo by Emily Jaschke.

Butcher’s Ball

Sunday, October 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Over 20 chefs — including James Beard Award-finalist Monica Pope and several more of Houston’s best-known chefs, such as Dawn Burrell of Kulture, Brandi Key of Alice Blue and Austin Simmons of TRIS — are serving small bites to attendees, as well as vying for votes for the coveted Golden Cleaver award. Meat and produce are being exclusively sourced from Texas farms and ranches, including Black Hill Meats, Liberty Provisions, Inland Seafood, Three Sister Farms, Chubby Dog Farms, Blue Heron Farm, R-C Ranch and Whitehurst Heritage Farm.

The competitors are:

In addition to the Golden Cleaver competition, a selection of chefs are being featured in the Open Fire Farm & Ranch Showcase, a series of cooking demos using outdoor methods that will throughout the day. More chefs may be announced in the coming weeks, but this is already a great list:

Monica Pope at the Butcher's Ball
Chef Monica Pope leads a kids’ cooking class at the 2018 Butcher’s Ball. Photo by Daniel Jackson.

That’s a lot to see and eat, but there’s more. Julia Poplawsky of the Central Texas Meat Collective and Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats are giving butchery demonstrations and various industry leaders will be discussing food production and issues facing farmers and ranchers. In addition, Pope is hosting a cooking class for kids age 7 to 17. The cost for that is $40.

Dinners will need something to wash down all that food. So beverage consultant Linda Salinas is crafting cocktails, sommelier Cat Nguyen is pouring a selection of Texas wine and 8th Wonder Brewery is providing beer. Finally, a group of Houston pastry chefs are making desserts, including Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, Hani Lae, Poitín and Johnny Wesley and HTX Nitro Creamery. Paul and Sara Burden of BuffBurger are collaborating with Hill Country Dairies on a boozy milkshake.

There’s also an on-site Urban Harvest farmers market, live music, and a silent auction featuring many chef dinners and other culinary experiences.

Ryan Lachaine with Erin and Patrick Feges
Chef-owner Ryan Lachaine of Riel with Erin and Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ. Photo by Emily Jaschke.

For Those Who Want It All

The $250 VIP Butchers Baller ticket includes:

• Admission to the Butcher’s Ball
• Priority parking at Rockin’ Star Ranch
• Complimentary wine, beer, and cocktails
• Access to a VIP lounge with shaded seating, exclusive cocktails prepared by Sarah Troxell of Nobie’s, and tastings and demonstrations by Ara Malekian of Harlem Road Texas BBQ and executive chef Syklar Hanka of Prairie Recovery Center.
• Access to the Butcher’s Ball Chef Camp hosted by Revive Development and Gin Designs
• Swag bag

When “All” Isn’t Enough

There is an even swaggier VIP package called the Super Baller. It costs $3,000 but covers 10 people and includes:

  • VIP tickets to the Butcher’s Ball
  • A reserved table for 10 in the VIP Lounge
  • Personal server for the entire event (don’t forget to tip)
  • Custom Butcher’s Ball aprons
  • Name recognition as a Butcher’s Ball sponsor

As of press time, only eight of these packages are still available.

For Those Who Also Want a Staycation

This year is the first time attendees can stay  at Rockin’ Star Ranch for the weekend. Designed for groups of four, the $2,500 experience includes:

  • Accommodations on both Saturday and Sunday in a “luxury casita”
  • Cocktails and bites by the pool on Saturday afternoon
  • Tickets to the Butcher’s Ball Chef Dinner on Saturday evening
  • Sunday morning crepes by Sean Carroll of Melange Creperie
  • VIP tickets to the 4th Annual Butcher’s Ball on Sunday
  • Access to an after-party featuring light bites on Sunday evening
  • Breakfast by the pool on Monday

At press time, only five of these packages are left.

The bottom line: if you attend this year’s Butcher’s Ball and are hungry, thirsty or bored, it’s your own fault. Visit the website for updates, tickets and more information.

Updated 10/15/19, 11:18 a.m. to reflect changes in participants. 

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