Chris Shepherd's Southern Smoke Festival won't go on as planned this year, but it will still have a presence.

Between the sight of dozens of accomplished local and national chefs firing up meat dishes (and whatever else they want), the live music, the booze, and the always-long line of people hoping to get a bite of Franklin Barbecue's wares, the Southern Smoke Festival is always one of Houston's most anticipated food events. Sadly, this year's festival isn't happening, but there will be a presence.

Events supporting the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund will run October 2 to 4 at foundation co-founder Chris Shepherd's restaurants. They include a sneak peek of a collaborative beer, a miniature taste of the festival at a farmers market, and a Zoom workshop for amateur and professional pitmasters.

Hay Merchant on October 2 will host an early look at Horseshoe pilsner, a beer made by Karbach Brewing Co. in partnership with Aaron Franklin's Hot Luck festival. It'll be on draft at the gastropub for $6 with plenty of food specials.

On October 3, Underbelly Hospitality will showcase a number of festival-inspired, ready-to-eat menu items, like beer-can chicken and a smoked-turkey Reuben, at Urban Harvest Farmers Market. From noon to 4 p.m. at One Fifth Mediterranean, Shepherd and chef de cuisine Matt Staph will host a lamb-and-chicken roast. Shawarma plates will be sold for $35. Also that day, Georgia James will be selling smoked brisket to-go.

Finally on October 4, UB Preserv will serve a smoked McRib pork bun and boozy Shamrock Shake for brunch. Also, Georgia James-chef de cuisine Greg Peters will host a Zoom class on smoking ribs. The $120 course comes with ingredients, including ribs, boudin, charred green bean panzanella, tater tot casserole, a dozen cookies, and a six-pack of Horseshoe pilsner.

A portion of proceeds from the events and specials will go to the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund. Since March the organization has distributed more than $3.2 million to hospitality workers impacted by Covid-19.

For more information, visit each individual restaurant's website.

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