A few Houston chefs will soon be traveling a few hours south to engage in a world-class cooking competition in Port Aransas. Yes, you read that right.
The 2019 Texas Super Chef Throwdown Series will take over the popular beach town from Sept. 18-21. Thirty chefs from across the state will compete over multiple judged competitions over the weekend, and about a dozen or so will triumph, moving to the World Food Championships in Dallas in October.
“This series is our vehicle to build out a Texas chef team,” says Jeff Hentz, president and CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. “We have a few of our chefs, but then we bring in chefs from around the state to fill out the spots.”
Here’s what you should know about next weekend’s festivities down on the beach:
Local chefs participating in the Texas Super Chef Throwdown Series include Mary Bass (private chef), Dennis Butterworth (WarPig BBQ, winner of 2017 HEB’s Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best), Jason Cole (Willie G’s Seafood), and Tim Eckard (McCormick & Schmicks).
Over four days, the 30 chefs will each take part in one of 10 smaller, specialized contests. There’ll be a seafood day, a beef day, a poultry day, and a vegetarian day, with two competitions scheduled for each day. On the final day, there’ll also be wild card contests that bring the final championship qualifier count to about 14.
The Texas Super Chef Throwdown Series is among the events taking place over Port Aransas’s Beachtoberfest celebration, which continues through October. Other events include the Jailbreak Port Aransas Obstacle Course (Sept. 27-28) and the Port A Live Music Fest (Oct. 4-5).
Hentz hopes through these fall events people take greater interest in the beach town.
“The primary reason people come down to Port Aransas is our beaches,” says Hentz of the town on Mustang Island, which has 18 miles of beach. “But there’s the active water sports, the excursion activities … the shopping, the history museums.”
He adds the food scene in Port Aransas has grown over the past several years, with more than 60 independently owned restaurants offering a variety of cuisines inviting people back to the town annually.
“It really separates us from other destinations, when you have your choices that compare to what you get back at home,” says Hentz. “There’s a quality, and it’s an eclectic variety of different types of food.”