Houston Food Finder’s Big Chef, Sommelier & Bartender Gala Returns on January 17 — Updated

The Perfect 10 Collage

Update, 1/14/2023, 10:47 a.m.: VIP tickets are sold out, and regular tickets for the seated dinner are very close to sell-out as well. If you would like to be on a waitlist in case more seating is made available, please email editor and publisher Phaedra Cook

It’s time to celebrate. After a more than two-year break, The Perfect 10 Gala, featuring 10 top Houston chefs, five sommeliers and five bartenders — plus an acclaimed dessert chef and local coffee roaster — returns on January 17. This time, Brennan’s of Houston at 3300 Smith is hosting. We are celebrating this special occasion by inviting some of its best-loved alums — chefs and sommeliers — to return for one night. Other top hospitality professionals from the Greater Houston area are joining them. With so much incredible talent, The Perfect 10 Gala will be one of the city’s top culinary events of the year!

The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with an exclusive VIP and Sponsor cocktail hour, featuring chefs Hugo Ortega, David Skinner, Niki Vongthong, Alex Au-Yeung and Benchawan Painter. Then, starting at 7 p.m., all attendees will enjoy a seated, six-course dinner created by  Austin Simmons, Mark Holley, Chris Roy, Paul Peddle, Vanarin Kuch, and the Brennan’s Chef Team. Each chef is teamed with a bartender or sommelier who’s been challenged with creating the perfect drink pairing for each dish. (For more details, see below.)

Perfect 10 sommeliers
Featured sommeliers at The Perfect 10 Gala include past “Wine Guys” James Koonce, Felix Florez and Marcus Gausepohl returning to their former roles for one night only. Joining them is current Iron Sommelier Adele Corrigan Wade and current Brennan’s of Houston “Wine Guy” Rich Carter.

Event sponsors include Katine Nechman McLaurin, David Toy Law Firm, William Price Distilling, DR Delicacy and Sysco Foods. (Some VIP corporate sponsorships with accompanying perks, such as table tickets, are still available; email for details.)

Update, 1/10/23, 11:07 a.m.: Interested in some pre-gala pampering so you can put your best face forward? See the end of this article for a special facial package with the works that we’ve arranged just for you!

Make sure to visit Brennan’s Wine Room during the event for a silent auction that benefits Second Servings of Houston, the city’s only prepared and perishable food rescue organization that feeds over 175,000 Houstonians in need per year. All proceeds from the auction go to the charity. Auction items include hotel stay packages, jewelry and signed collectibles. (Want to contribute an item to the silent auction? Email us.)

Mardi Gras season will be well underway by the time of the gala, so feel free to wear your best festive outfit. Brennan’s will be ready with the masks and beads!

VIP tickets for cocktail hour and seated dinner are $245 plus tax and gratuity. General admission tickets for just the seated dinner portion are $185 plus tax and gratuity. Click here to purchase tickets; we expect this one-of-a-kind event to sell out. Proceeds from gala ticket sales support Houston Food Finder, an independent, woman-owned, online publication that’s covered the local food and beverage scene since November 2016.

Cocktail Hour at The Perfect 10 Gala

perfect 10 gala 2023 cocktail hour chefs
The top Houston chefs featured during cocktail hour at The Perfect 10 Gala 2023.

The featured chefs, drink professionals and dishes during cocktail hour are:

  • Chef, owner and James Beard Award-winner Hugo Ortega, H Town Restaurant Group (Hugo’s, Xochi, Caracol and Backstreet Cafe): Molote de Mejilla de Res. Wine pairing by “Wine Guy” Rich Carter, Brennan’s of Houston.
  • Chef and owner David Skinner, eculent: Shrimp and Corn Butter. Cocktail by Chris Morris, Beverage Director, Kau Ba Saigon and Aya Sushi.
  • Executive Chef Niki Vongthong, Hidden Omakase: Scallop Crudo with Italian Radish and Pomegranate. Cocktail pairing by Bar Manager Thomas Cordes of Brennan’s of Houston.
  • Chef, owner and James Beard Award-semifinalist Alex Au-Yeung, Phat Eatery: Caviar and Truffle Pork Dumpling (featuring DR Delicacy gourmet caviar and truffles). Wine pairing by Associate Executive Wine Buyer Marcus Gausepohl of Houston Wine Merchant, formerly Brennan’s of Houston “Wine Guy”.
  • Chef and owner Benchawan Painter, Street To Kitchen: Tiger Cry Steak with Pumpkin Three Ways. Cocktail pairing by Taylor Morris, William Price Distilling.

Seated Dinner at The Perfect 10 Gala

Perfect 10 Gala 2023 seated dinner chefs
The top Houston chefs featured during the seated dinner portion at The Perfect 10 Gala 2023.
  • Bread Service by owner Jeff Weinstock, Cake & Bacon
  • Executive chef Austin Simmons, TRIS: Ahi Tuna Sashimi with orange supremes, daikon radish, serrano and ponzu dashi. Wine pairing by Iron Sommelier-winner Adele Corrigan, general manager of 13 celsius.
  • Chef and owner Chris Roy, Winnie’sMuffaletta-Stuffed Tortellini in a Parmesan Rind and Ham Brodo. Wine pairing by Felix Florez, owner of Falcon Creek Farms and Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Texas Market and former Brennan’s of Houston “Wine Guy”.
  • Executive chef Paul Peddle, Four Seasons Houston: Buttermilk-Fried Pork Belly with pickled okra, garlic aioli and Crystal Hot Sauce beurre blanc. Cocktail pairing by Johnathan Jones, Beverage Manager, Four Seasons Houston.
  • Executive chef Mark Holley of Davis Street at Hermann Park and Alife Hospitality, and former Brennan’s of Houston chef de cuisine: Blackened Grouper with Carolina gold rice, lady creamer peas, kimchi collards and ham hock pot liquor. Wine pairing by James Koonce, chef and owner, My Place Catering and former Brennan’s of Houston “Wine Guy” and Sous Chef.
  • The Brennan’s of Houston Chef Team — Carl Walker, John Salazar and José Arevalo: Bourbon-Lacquered Hill Country Quail with Crawfish Boudin Stuffing, sunny-side-up quail egg, wilted greens, sweet potatoes and bourbon glaze. Cocktail pairing by Andy Charlton, Bar Manager, Rhapsody Bar at Lyric Market.
  • Pastry Chef, Owner and Top Chef: Just Desserts competitor Vanarin Kuch of Koffeteria: Hummingbird Cake Soufflé with Roux Anglaise accompanied by locally roasted Boomtown Coffee.

We hope to see you at this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of some of Houston’s best and brightest talent at one of the city’s most elegant and esteemed venues.

Update, 1/10/23, 11:07 a.m.: Everyone loves a little pre-event pampering, so we’re partnering with Swanky Beauty Bar, owned by our friend Felice Simmons (aka the “Swanky Maven“) on a special facial package! This includes the works PLUS a free eye mask! Each treatment includes a double cleanse, double exfoliation, and extractions (if needed). Next expect either RF Treatment, a Micro-Peel (if needed), Lightwave LED, and/or wet/dry microdermabrasion Treatment. Then, finish w/ extended touch therapy and Oxygen Treatment. Normally, this package is $135 (not including eye mask); use code HTXFOOD10 when checking out online and pay only $121.50 plus tax and tip! (Enter the code in the Notes field if not pre-paying.) You’ll feel renewed, refreshed and ready for the gala ! Click this link to make your appointment and see the full list of services; gala package is under Fall/Winter Specials. ⁣

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