Southern Smoke Adds Even More Star Power With Momofuku Chefs

In what is one of the most star-studded events in Houston this year, the upcoming Southern Smoke festival on Sunday, October 22, from 4 to 8 p.m., has added even more nationally renowned chefs to its already impressive lineup. The new additions are five-time James Beard Award-winner David Chang and Matthew Rudofker of Momofuku.

They join Austin’s Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue); Charleston’s Rodney Scott (Rodney Scott’s BBQ), Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope (FIG); Raleigh, North Carolina’s Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, Death & Taxes); and New Orleans’ John Besh (Restaurant August, Lüke) who is opening his own Houston restaurant, Eunice, with chef-partner Drake Leonards.

That’s in addition to the Bayou City’s own star chef lineup, which has also grown. First off are all of Houston’s James Beard Award-winning chefs of the past decade: Chris Shepherd of Underbelly and One Fifth, Justin Yu (who just opened Oxheart’s replacement, Theodore Rex) and Hugo Ortega of Caracol, Hugo’s, Xochi and Backstreet Cafe.

The group of host chefs is called the HOUBBQ Collective. Shepherd and Yu are members, so are Ryan Pera of Coltivare and Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of The Pass & Provisions. All are cooking at Southern Smoke.

Austin barbecue titan Aaron Franklin will once again ‘cue for the cause at this year’s Southern Smoke. Photo by Catchlight Photography.

As the old saying goes, “But wait, there’s more!” Other local star chefs working the event are Brandi Key (Clark Cooper Concepts, including The Dunlavy, Coppa Osteria, Salt Air and more), Lyle Bento (Southern Goods), Manabu Horiuchi (Kata Robata and Izakaya), Richard Knight (Breaking Bread dinner series, formerly of Hunky Dory), Jonathan Jones (Cane Rosso) and Patrick Feges (Feges BBQ). 

All of these chefs are showing up to help raise money to for Houston hospitality professionals who suffered losses after Hurricane Harvey. It wasn’t just material losses, like cars and damaged homes. Many restaurants and bars lost at least a week of business due to having to be closed, and patrons (of which many were dealing with their own traumas) were slow to get back to eating out.

The Southern Smoke fund is currently accepting both donations and applications for assistance. The deadline to apply for help is October 23.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now and can be purchased online. Visit the Southern Smoke website for more details, including VIP ticket options (which are, by the way, almost sold out, so hurry if interested).

Those unable to attend can scope out an online wine auction, full of rare bottles and unique experiences like theme dinners and one-on-one training sessions with top food and beverage professionals. More items, including a “dusty bottle” whiskey tasting with chef Chris Shepherd and Preston Van Winkle of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, will be added on October 20.

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