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last weekend, king of crawfish aka jim gossen of louisiana foods threw a crawfish boil of colossal proportions for the OTC kick-off party held at U of H every year. the feast of crusteans involved a 16,000 pound order of live louisiana crawfish.when ji…

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bivalve throwdown

On October 24, 2009 By

i’ve stuffed you with fried chicken and then pork belly until you couldn’t move anymore. next up is OYSTERS! the 3rd in the series of houston chowhounds chef throwdowns is coined the bivalve throwdown or #BVTD on twitter.bryan caswell and bill floyd fr…

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southbound food show #8

On September 11, 2009 By

this week we’re publishing the podcast links to our upcoming show this weekend a few days early. it’s just too hilarious to keep to ourselves for another 48 hours.the parody of the NEW southbound food show is our response to several recent attempts to …

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southbound food show #7

On September 7, 2009 By

great show last weekend with special guests michael dei maggi and robert hall III, of the califonia winemaking family robert hall winery, who will be opening the rockwood room together this october. the restaurant will be located near woodway and chimn…

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september new restos

On September 3, 2009 By

fall in houston not only holds the excitement of cooler weather but will also see the opening of lots of new restaurants. this month, check these out:tesar’s in the woodlands had a soft opening last night after a busted piped delayed the opening by one…

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southbound food show #6

On September 3, 2009 By

here are the podcast links to the southbound food show that aired on sat, 9/29 with special guests gail simmons, from top chef and special projects director for food & wine magazine, and chef jamie zelko who is opening zelko bistro in the heights t…

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southbound food show #5

On August 27, 2009 By

here are your podcast links to last weekend’s southbound food radio show with bryan caswell, jenny wang, and lance zierlein, danny vara, & frank bullington from 1560 the game.segment 1 – the gang chats about the pork belly throwdown at catalansegme…

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greg morago, houston chronicle’s food editor wrote a wonderful piece on the houston chowhounds and the pork belly throwdown that took place last week at catalan. The write-up should be in thursday’s Preview section of the paper, but you can get a snea…

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PBTD results

On August 18, 2009 By
photo by Carlos Meltzer

last night at catalan nearly 200 pork lovers from all over houston convened for an evening of pure gluttony at the houston chowhounds pork belly throwdown. chris shepherd and antonio gianola were our hosts with the roasts – pig roasts that is. huge pans of pigs heads and roasted suckling pigs greeted their food fans upon arrival who were welcome to nosh on a piggie cheek, ear, and anything in between. to a chowhound, absolutely no pig parts are off-limits.

in attendance were a boisterous, hungry crowd of foodies (aka houCHies) and industry folks, most of whom chose to spend their only day off this week gathered together in this eating-for-sport event. there were two competitions this evening: first, battle beans competition by houston chowhounds amateur chefs. this contest was judged by twelve of houston’s top chefs who were present to compete in the headlining event: a pork belly cooking contest, or “throwdown.”

tonight was a follow-up to the fried chicken throwdown at beaver’s two months ago. the two winners of that evening’s challenge, randy evans (executive chef of the much anticipated Haven opening in oct) and cody vasek (executive sous chef at VOICE) returned to defend their titles. however, tonight’s challenge had only one judging category and could only have one winner.

the judges this evening had the daunting task of tasting twelve different pork belly dishes. the panel included teresa byrne-dodge, publisher/editor of my table magazine; chris shepherd, chef/owner of catalan; chris reid, houston press food blogger; misha govshetyn, tasty bits food blogger; wild card judge – justin basye, chef de cuisine at VOICE; and yours truly. each dish was scored based on (1) originality, (2) plating, and (3) taste. scores for taste counted twice and was double-weighted.

and the winners were…

1st place: Cody Vasek, VOICE. Quartet of Pork Belly: tempura fried pork belly over fermented black rice; pave of pork belly with pickled cherries & sweet corn marmalade; pork and bean ginger snap ice cream sandwich; fried pork belly & chicken skin wrapped scallop. cody received near perfect scores across the board for all categories. the ice cream sandwich was spectacular

photo by Misha Govshetyn

2nd place: Randy Evans, Haven. Pork belly pastor torta. the flavors were both comforting and extremely tasty. randy served this with a bucket of mexican cokes & jarritos, pickled carrots, and homemade salsa verde. it’s difficult to imagine that a torta could beat the rest of the dishes you’ll see below, but it really was THAT GOOD.

photo by Misha Govshetyn

3rd place: Manubu “Hori” Horiuchi, Kata Robata. Pork Belly Threesome: braised pork belly and green onion crepe w/kim chee sauce; braised pork belly sushi w/grated daikon soy sauce, bonito flakes, & yuzu pepper; “kakuni” sake-braised pork belly w/spinach in sweet soy reduction. this was another dish with high originality and plating scores.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

the other dishes were as follows:

Jonathan Jones, Beaver’s. “Bacon, Biscuit and Eggs” – cured, smoked, sous vide berkshire pork belly, buttermilk biscuit, soft scrambled egg, maple “caviar”, peach jam. it was served with the Beaver’s famous “squealing mary” bloody mary made with bacon-infused vodka and garnished with bacon sugar salt rim and candied bacon. JJ described this dish as tasting like his childhood.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Ryan Pera, The Grove. Crisp pork belly with sweet and sour watermelon, tamarind vinaigrette and scallion salad.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Matthew Gray, Chez Roux. Fennel Crusted Home Cured Belly Pork, Seared Scallop, and Apple Puree.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Paul Lewis, Cullen’s Upscale American Grille. Crisp Jolie Vue Farms Pork Belly, Spiced Apple Compote, Housemade “Kim Chee.”

photo by Misha Govshetyn

Antoine Ware, Catalan. Brown sugar & bourbon glazed belly of Mr. Hatterman’s Blue Butt Hog, butternut squash.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Jose Luis Vela, Mockingbird Bistro. Kurobuta Pork Belly “Club” with Foie Gras, Tomato/Orange Marmalade and Brioche. Definitely the most decadent dish of the evening.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Ronnie Killen, Killen’s Steakhouse. Vermont Maple Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly w/ Cabbage slaw

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Jason Gould, formerly of Gravitas. Molasses braised pork belly, apple & green onion jam, herb bread pudding.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

Randy Rucker, Rainbow Lodge. 36 hour poached Iowa Pork Belly sliced thin and glued to shrimp carpaccio with “TG” and dusted with a powder made from pork fat, isomalt, truffle & tapioca maltodextrin and torched, “rice-less” risotto made from yukon potatoes micro-diced to the size of carnaroli rice, squash blossom kimchee (served in its physical form, pureed, and foamed.

From Pork Belly Throwdown

the results of Battle Beans were as follows:

1st place: Karen Rittinger. Fabada Asturiada.

photo by Carlos Meltzer

2nd place: Steve Philpot. Third Coast Cassoulet.

photo by Carlos Meltzer

3rd place: Cindy Robertson. Cindy was also the winner of the fried chicken throwdown’s Battle Mac & Cheese.

left over proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the charles blanton community garden in the 1st ward.

a separate charitable effort in the form of an e-cookbook is also being compiled to benefit recipe for success. the “book” will include the pork belly and bean recipes from the evening’s event. copies can be requested with a $5 donation by emailing

From Pork Belly Throwdown

links to other event write-ups & photos:

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PBTD line up tonight

On August 17, 2009 By

pork belly throwdown judges, please look the other way…
i really couldn’t resist posting this list for the PBTD attendees tonight.

a couple things i noted:
– more sweet applications than savory
– 2 dishes incorporating “kim chee”
– 3 dishes incorporating apples

what i’m most surprised about: no one is using pork cracklings
what i’m looking forward to trying the most: pork belly sushi (hori-san)
most over-the-top: PB club w/foie gras (mockingbird)
what i’m most curious about: pork and bean ice cream sandwich (vasek)

Team Beaver’s
Jonathan Jones, Russell Kirkham, & Tad Turrany
“Bacon, Biscuit and Eggs” – cured, smoked, sous vide berkshire pork belly, buttermilk biscuit, soft scrambled egg, maple, peach jam

Team Chez Roux
Matthew Gray & Damien Rice
Fennel Crusted Home Cured Belly Pork, Seared Scallop, and Apple Puree

Team Cullen’s
Paul Lewis & Bruce Trathen
Crisp Jolie Vue Farms Pork Belly, Spiced Apple Compote, Housemade Kim Chee

Jason Gould
Molasses braised pork belly, apple & green onion jam, herb bread pudding

Team Haven
Randy Evans, Kevin Naderi & Ojan Bagher
Pork Belly Torta – a taco truck BLT

Team Kata Robata
Manubu “Hori” Horiuchi & Jean-Phillipe Gaston
Pork belly Threesome (Sushi, Crepes, Kakuni with Spinach)

Team Killen’s Steakhouse
Ronnie Killen & Dee Dee Killen
Vermont Maple Glazed Kurobuta Pork Belly

Team Mockingbird
Jose Luis Vela & John Sheely
Kurobuta Pork Belly “Club” with Foie Gras, Tomato/Orange Marmalade and Brioche

Ryan Pera from The Grove
Crisp pork belly with sweet and sour watermelon, tamarind vinaigrette and scallion salad

Randy Rucker from Rainbow Lodge
IOWA PORK BELLY “rice-less” risotto, shrimp, squash blossom kimchee

Cody Vasek from VOICE
Quartet of pork belly: Sweet n sour pork with smoked rice, sesame powder; Pave of pork with pickled cherries & summer corn marmalade; “pork n bean” ice cream sandwich; and ??????????

Antoine Ware from Catalan
Brown sugar & bourbon glazed belly of Mr. Hatterman’s Blue Butt Hog

let the pork games begin! see you tonight.

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