If you were worried that the Conrad Ballroom at the University of Houston Hilton smelled too much of anchovies and garlic Thursday evening, it was totally normal. It was the site of the 34th annual Caesar Salad Competition, hosted by the Food & Beverage Managers Association of Houston and benefitting the organization's scholarships for aspiring hospitality professionals in the Houston area.
More than a dozen chefs—ranging from hotels to student food service to established local restaurants—took part in the competition, which awarded the most creative Caesar salad, best classic, best presentation, and consumer's choice.
The most creative award went to Le Bistro at Culinary Institute LeNôtre, whose team crafted an ingenious vegan Caesar. The best classic award went to El Meson, whose team showcased a fine balance of distinct flavors. University of Houston Dining Services won the best presentation award for its vendor display, and San Luis Resort & Spa's interpretation of a Southern-style Caesar, with fried oyster, candied bacon, and frittata, took home the consumer's choice award.
Judges for the event included freelance writer Carlos Brandon, Phaedra Cook of Houston Food Finder, freelance writer Mai Pham, Houston CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler, Fox 26 personality Cleverley Stone, and yours truly, the dining editor at Houstonia.