Sweet & Savory Benefit Helps Save Dogs With Delicious Dinner

Categories: Edible Events

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
Randy Rucker and his fellow chefs plate the cheese course.
Several years ago, Rebecca Masson and Tracie Hartman held the first "Sweet and Savory" dinner benefitting Lucky Dog rescue. They had a few dozen people and raised $3,500. Nine dinners later, and the duo--along with a slew of local and regional chefs--have raised an estimated $150,000 for the animal rescue organization. Last night's event had a theme, "All Male Revue," and featured nine (attractive) male chefs, each cooking either a sweet or a savory course along with Masson of Fluff Bake Bar, who organized the event.

The Ralph Smith Photography Studio, aka 5226 Elm, was the ideal setting for the dinner and silent auction benefitting Lucky Dog. About 120 people dined on nine courses, from appetizers to desserts (three of 'em), and everyone left raving about the creativity behind the dishes and the generous servings of alcohol that accompanied each plate.

Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar feeds Philip Speer of Uchi.
Though this dinner featured chefs from across Texas, the hands-down favorite dish of the evening seemed to be a creation of hometown boys Andrew Vaserfirer and Marcelo Garcia of Revival Market. The two smoked brisket and fed it into a sausage casing before smoking it a second time, then serving it on a bed of lightly dressed greens sprinkled with crunchy burnt ends. This part of the dish was served family style, while each guest received his or her own plate of grits to go along with it. When I sneaked back to the kitchen later in the meal, I caught a fellow food writer going to town on a cast iron skillet of grits with a wooden spoon. Even the other chefs in the kitchen were grabbing spoons and shoveling grits into their mouths between platings.

The plating of the dishes was almost as impressive as the meal itself. Several long tables were arranged end to end and covered with empty plates. Then, when it was time to serve the next course, all the chefs would converge upon the table, each with his (or her) own assignment--one person squeezing sauce, another adding garnishes--until the row of tables was filled with 120 perfect plates of food. There was very little talking during this time, save for the occasional off-color joke (these are chefs we're talking about), and everyone worked together to make sure each dish was expedited as quickly, smoothly and beautifully as possible.

The evening began with passed hors d'oeuvres from local chef Randy Rucker and San Antonio chef/owner of Tuk Tuk Tap Room, David Gilbert. Rucker produced mini corn bread muffins with blue crab jelly and chickweed persillade as well as sweet potato chicharrones. Gilbert surprised guests with a durian-coconut custard ("Don't smell it," I told people of the durian dish, "just eat it.") and a Vietnamese-inspired plate of fried frogs legs, grated green mango and sliced pomelo in a salty, vinegary fish sauce.

Ryan Lachaine's pickled shrimp marinating before being plated
For the first course, new Reef chef de cuisine Ryan Lachaine pickled shrimp and served them with coriander yogurt, sliced spring onions and a bit of fennel, perhaps a preview of what's to come at the Midtown seafood restaurant in the coming months.

Next, Nathan Lemley of Parkside in Austin made a whipped lardo and vegetable sauce served with fresh or salted spring veggies like carrots and radish and a bit of preserved lemon curd with a crispy chicken skin on top. It was light and refreshing, an ideal representation of spring through food.

This story continues on the next page.

Location Info

Revival Market

550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


2600 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


904 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Cool sounding event for a good cause! Randy Rucker is the Kaiser Sosa of the Houston food scene.

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