It's a bromance: Aaron Franklin and Chris Shepherd.

The Southern Smoke festival raised about $450,000 in 2018, and overall has given more than $1.3 million to various causes, including an emergency relief fund to aid people in the food and beverage industry.

So it goes as no surprise that Chris Shepherd and his Southern Smoke team would want to do even more. According to the Southern Smoke Foundation, a spring festival is planned for April 14-18. But instead of a one-day shindig in and around the Underbelly Hospitality parking lot, this festival will be five days of events.

“We’re really fortunate to work in an industry that enables us to give back,” said Shepherd in a press release. “I love cooking with my friends, and I love cooking with them even more when we’re raising money to take care of our own."

The spring fest will kick off with everyone's favorite pitmaster, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. He'll join Shepherd and the Georgia James kitchen crew in creating a steak dinner for paid guests ($350 per person). The dinner includes a signed copy of Franklin's new book Franklin Steak.

Chef Jamie Malone will take over the kitchen at UB Preserv on April 15 ($200 per person). The three-time James Beard Best Chef Midwest semifinalist will showcase her modern French takes at Shepherd's neighborhood spot.

Houston steak nights are planned for April 16 and 17. More than 20 restaurants, including Coltivare, Hugo's, Uchi, Xochi, The Pass and Provisions, Brennan's of Houston, Indianola, Kata Robata, and the Original Ninfa's on Navigation, will include a Southern Smoke steak dish on their menus featuring beef from 44 Farms.

And on April 18, One Fifth Mediterranean will host a finale with details to be announced.

For more information as it comes, visit

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