by Eric Sandler, Culture Map
Sunday, October 21’s picture-perfect weather provided an ideal setting for the 1,000 or so people who attended the third annual Butcher’s Ball. Held at Brenham’s Rockin Star Ranch, the event unites chefs, bartenders, and other leaders in the culinary world for a celebration of sustainable farming and ranching that includes food, drinks, cooking demonstrations, panel discussions, and more — all while raising $20,000 for local non-profit Urban Harvest.
More than two dozen chefs from Houston, Austin, and Dallas served food at the event. Highlights included roasted oysters topped with frozen margarita from Bobby Matos (La Lucha, State of Grace), a Chicago-style hot dog in a poppy seed bao bun from Martin Stayer (Nobie’s), and smoked ribeye from John Tesar (Dallas’ Knife). A number of dessert options tempted the crowd, including doughnut holes with brisket fat caramel from Rebecca Mason (Fluff Bake Bar) and chocolate with pig’s blood from Jill Bartolome (Aqui).
In the end, the crowd picked three favorites. Third place went to Patrick Feges and Erin Smith (Feges BBQ) for their pork belly with pimento cheese grits. Teddy Lopez (Killen’s STQ) took second for its sweet and spicy beef rib made with Texas wagyu from Marble Ranch. Tony Luhrman (El Topo Truck) took the top prize — and $1,000 — for its 44 Farms barbacoa with handmade tortillas and spicy salsa.
All that food could be faired with a wide range of beverages from sponsors such as Topo Chico, Katz Coffee, the Macallan, 8th Wonder Brewery, Fistful of Bourbon, and a selection of cocktails created by Julep owner Alba Huerta.
Once sated, attendees could enjoy musical performances from Mason Lankford Family Band, DJ Mexican Blackbird, Western Bling, and White Ghost Shivers. Legendary Texan Kinky Friedman, cigar in hand, posed for selfies with the crowd before taking the stage to sing a few songs.
As always, the event attracts a who’s-who of Houston’s food scene. Spotted in the crowd: Brad Moore and Camella Clements, Gin Braverman and Bret Whitacre, Adam Brackman and Ady Burgida, Ashley and Tyler Horne, Dan Fergus, Kim Korth, Linda Salinas, J.R. Cohen, Michael Fulmer, Paige and Graham Laborde, Carl Walker, Joe Cervantez, Jonathan Horowitz, Claudia Solis, Jarrett Karn and Chelsea Padon, Cheryl Gibbs and Terry Williams, Elyse Blechman, and so many more.
Each year organizers Jonathan Beitler, Jason Kerr, Alba Huerta, and Elaine Dillard manage to top their previous efforts. We can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2019.