Houston’s Most Luxurious Culinary Competition Returns in January 2020 — Updated

deviled eggs topped with caviar

When they have the clientele for it, many chefs love opportunities to create special dishes with rare, expensive ingredients. That’s exactly what The Truffle Masters competition, sponsored by fine ingredient importer DR Delicacy, enables them to do. This year, the annual event is on Monday, January 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. (VIP ticket holders get access to a pre-party from 6 to 7 p.m.) The venue is the new C. Baldwin Hotel at 400 Dallas, next to Allen Center in downtown Houston. A portion of the proceeds benefits Second Servings of Houston, a charity that picks up excess prepared and unprepared food and distributes it to other organizations that serve disadvantaged Houstonians. Tickets are available online

DR Delicacy’s owner, Diane Roederer, founded the competition to celebrate and promote the annual black truffle harvest. Among truffles, the black variety is one of the most prized. 

Chef Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi and his team from Kata Robata celebrate yet another Truffle Masters win
Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi and his team from Kata Robata celebrate yet another Truffle Masters win. Photo courtesy of The Truffle Masters.

If you think the chance to work with a provided batch of fresh truffles can tempt the city’s top chefs to enter the fray and show what they can do, you are correct. This year, about 26 are all competing for the Truffle Master trophy. Chef Manabu Horiuchi and his team at Kata Robata won three out of the past four years. This year, Horiuchi is a judge — and well-qualified for it at this point. In 2018, the winner was chef Austin Simmons of Tris in The Woodlands. Bring your A-game, competitors: they’re both returning this year. 

dish at The Truffle Masters
The Truffle Masters event gives chefs the opportunity to create beautiful dishes with one of the world’s most expensive ingredients: black truffles. Photo courtesy of The Truffle Masters.

The dishes are judged in two rounds by different groups that include food media, authors, television personalities and “influencers.” In addition to trying all of the truffle-laden dishes, attendees can also sample craft cocktails and wine. In addition, there is a silent auction. 

The 2020 participating chefs include:

  • Aaron Bludorn
  • Cyrus Caclini, Izakaya
  • Michael Colbert, Mastro’s
  • Pete Cox, Terrace 54 Bar + Table at The Westin Houston Medical Center
  • Robert Crescini, Fresco Café Italiano
  • Robert Del Grande, The Annie Cafe & Bar
  • Troy Guard, Guard & Grace
  • Maurizio Ferrarese, Ristorante Cavour at Hotel Granduca
  • Sasha Grumman, Rosalie Italian Soul
  • Charlie Ho, Le Colonial
  • Dominick Lee, Poitín Bar & Kitchen
  • Drake Leonards, Eunice
  • Teddy Lopez, Killen’s STQ
  • Bobby Matos, La Lucha
  • Jamie Orlacchio, La Table
  • Alex Padilla, The Original Ninfa’s
  • Jason Phan, Roka Akor
  • Manuel Pucha, Maison Pucha
  • Luis Roger, MAD / BCN Taste & Tradition
  • Jose Ruiz, A’Bouzy
  • Brandon Silva, Degust (coming soon) and Wooster’s Garden
  • Austin Simmons, TRIS
  • David Skinner, Eculent
  • Kiran Verma, Kiran’s
  • J.D. Woodward, 1751 Sea and Bar
  • Hilda Ysusi, Broken Barrel

General admission tickets to taste all of the no-holds-barred fresh truffle dishes are $195 and VIP tickets, which include pre-party admission and a goody bag, cost $295. For the first time, there’s also crème de la crème ticket that’s even swankier than VIP: the Patron VIP level, which includes a custom-made pin, a special gift bag and valet parking and access to a private vodka and Champagne bar, caviar and truffle chocolates all evening. Additional information and tickets are available online

Article updated 1/21/2020 to add information on participating chefs. 

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