When it comes to tacos, Fernando Desa has nothing left to prove.Over the last two years Desa, the executive chef and product development manager of Goya Foods, based in New York, has showcased hard-shell tacos in the Sips, Suds & Tacos competition June 7 at The 15th Annual Woodlands Wine & Food Week, and nabbed the top prize both times. That's why this year he's back, but instead of battling for taco supremacy, he'll be judging the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase on June 8.
The Chef Showcase a contest between dozens of chefs for the honor of Chef of Chefs, which includes a $5,000 cash prize. Desa and handful of other judges will be tasting what each chef creates and ultimately choose a top chef, so to speak. After doing so well as a competitor for the taco competition the past two years, Desa is excited to be in such a different role this time around.
"I enjoy it because you have all of these kinds of chefs doing something different," he says. "In the taco even they're coming up with something different, but you know it's tacos. But for this last event you don't know what they're coming up with."
On June 6, the H-E-B Wine Walk at Market Street brings more than 25 restaurants outside in The Woodlands for a tasting experience with wine and craft beer.
There'll be plenty of opportunities to both eat and drink plenty when the festival kicks off next month. The Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting, scheduled for the same day as the Chef Showcase, will include more than 500 wines, and culinary demonstrations from more than 50 restaurants. Other featured nights include It's A Guy Thing, set for June 4, in which Master Sommelier Guy Stout will educate attendees on bolder and more robust wines while featured restaurants dole out samples. Advertised as a "guy's night out," the event will also have shoe-shining, cigars, and live music. The Ladies of the Vine Tasting Panel and Luncheon on June 7 brings together women winemakers, owners, and experts, who will talk about their careers over a multi-course meal. "Just the whole week is amazing fun," Desa says. "There's good food, good wine. It's great to eat in Texas."
Sips, Suds & Tacos, though, is something Desa is looking forward to attending, even though he won't be competing. The event brings together drinks, eats and some intense competition, according to Desa, as people find all kinds of takes on the taco. "Tacos have become everything, like it's an entrée, it's an appetizer, you can make a dessert out of it, too," he says.
While choosing the Chef of Chefs is most likely going to be challenging, when it comes to tacos, this time around Desa will just be focused on having a good time.
The event runs from June 4-8.