When his friend and former sommelier Antonio Gianolo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, award-winning Houston chef Chris Shepherd looked for a way to help. In 2015, he co-founded Southern Smoke and created an annual barbecue festival in Houston, where some of the country’s best chefs join him to serve a feast for a good cause.
To date, the organization has raised nearly $1 million in its first three years, with $454,000 going to the MS Society and $501,000 helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey. This year, the festival is back for its fourth iteration; once again Shepherd has gathered an amazing roster of chefs to cook with him on September 30.
The culinary stars attending are acclaimed Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin; Ryan Prewitt of Donald Link’s Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans; former Houstonian Daniela Soto-Innes, who now runs modern Mexican restaurants Cosme and Atla in New York; Phoenix-based pizza master Chris Bianco; Edouardo Jordan of Seattle, who just picked up two James Beard Awards last month; Billy Durney of Brooklyn’s Hometown Bar-B-Que; chef and farmer Vivian Howard; Jason Vincent of Giant in Chicago; Pat Martin of the eponymous barbecue restaurant in Nashville; and Sam Jones, the third-generation whole hog barbecue cooker from North Carolina.
Those chefs from around the States will be joined by an amazing lineup of local chefs including James Beard Winners Shepherd, Justin Yu of Theodore Rex, and Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s and Xochi.
General admission for the event is $200 and VIP is $350, which includes early admission and access to special lounges. And for a very limited group, there are Super VIP passes, available for $1,000 that get you VIP benefits the day of the event, but also a culinary tour with the chefs on Friday night. Those hoping to secure a Super VIP pass will have to act fast, because Shepherd and team are reserving just 20 spots.
Tickets go on sale starting July 10 at SouthernSmoke.org.