Foodie Events / Restaurants

The Woodlands’ Wine & Food Week Celebrates 20 Years In Style — Star Chefs, New Hall of Famers and Oh the Vino

One Of The Most Anticipated Events of the Year

BY // 06.14.24

Forty three chefs competed for the Chef of Chefs Award at Wine & Food Week’s 20th Grand Tasting and Chef Showcase in The Woodlands with Chef Nancy Manlove of Puff by Nancy Manlove taking top honors. Manlove picked up a $5,000 cash prize along with a trophy presented by Chef Fernando Desa.

Manlove’s winning creation was a puff pastry filled with a swirled duck foie gras mousse and à l ‘orange whipped brie mousse topped with a hot honey fruitta chutney mostrada drizzle and crisp duck bacon bits, bee pollen, edible wafer bees and fresh flowers.

Chef David Guerrero of Andes Cafe took second place for his Encebollado, a dish which traces its origins to Ecuador’s Valdivia culture. Valdivia’s culinary lifestyle is built around seafood and local herbs. Salted fish and cassava are cooked in water, with red onions, tanned in lemon and salt with a drizzle of olive oil and parsley. A broth made from tomatoes, onions, chili, coriander and cumin form the base for a soup called sofrito.

Third place at Wine & Food Week’s Grand Tasting went to Chef Richard Huber of Swift & Company for his smoked Wagyu short ribs, black truffle au gratin potatoes, and black currant bordelaise with brown butter caramelized kimchi.

Entries were judged by an esteemed chef and culinary-trained food media panel. The Just Desserts winner, decided by popular vote, went to Chef Kady Miller of Alchemy Bake Labs.

But in many ways, the winner of this festival is the staying power of the event itself.

“Toasting to 20 years is truly a dream come true,” Wine & Food Week co-founder Constance McDerby says. “It’s a testament to our unwavering commitment to the culinary community, demystifying wine and making it more approachable, the shared joys, and countless cherished memories that have brought us to this remarkable milestone.”

The Audrey, located in Market Street, offered a monkfish ceviche at the Chef Showcase during Wine & Food Week. (Photo by Laura Braun)
The Audrey, located in Market Street, offered a monkfish ceviche at the Chef Showcase during Wine & Food Week. (Photo by Laura Braun)

The Grand Tasting and Chef Showcase served as the finale to a week of wine and foodie fun. The week featured more than 125 chefs, 75 restaurants, 500 wines, numerous educational seminars and culinary showcases. “Get Frosted at Rose Way,” which featured a fashion show from Houston designer Chloe Dao — the winner of Project Runway season two; the elegant “Ladies of the Vine Tasting, Luncheon & Panel Discussion and the more casual “Sips, Suds and Savor” events all turned out to be major hits.

The Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase certainly had wine lovers buzzing. Lucky attendees sipped from a selection of hundreds of wines, including a a 2017 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages, a 2013 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2019 Ceretto Barolo and a Kiepersol Bourbon Barrel Sangiovese. All while sampling dishes such as braised Wagyu short rib with chile Morrison and chile ancho, served with corn maize porridge and chipilin leaves from El Quetzal Bakery & Restaurant; a Truffle macaron served with a truffle dulce de leche, classic beef tartar, yuzu and ponzu gel, cured egg yolks and a seaweed crisp from Infini Aruba; and a Lychee ceviche served with coconut, ginger, serrano, curry leaf, watermelon radish from Musaafer and a pork lumpia- grape leaf vermicelli, labneh and sweet chili sauce from Lymbar.

An additional eight dessert chefs created sweet treats such as mini tres leches, billionaire brownies and bourbon chocolate pecan pie from The Woodlands’ own Dessert Gallery.

Wine lovers at Rosé Way donned derby hats while enjoying reds, pinks and bubbles at the Peach Orchard during Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands.
Wine lovers at Rosé Way donned derby hats while enjoying reds, pinks and bubbles at the Peach Orchard during Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands.

Wine & Food Week’s 20th anniversary celebration supported charitable organizations New Danville, The Woodlands Waterway Arts Council, The Montgomery County Food Bank and Southern Smoke Foundation. Food & Vine Time Productions has raised more than $2 million through various channels for local charities over the last two decades.

“When we first set out to create a multi-day culinary and wine event, I’m not sure I would have imagined that 20 years later we would have raised over $2 million for countless charities, built this family of volunteers, and gained the support of winemakers and chefs throughout the world,” McDerby tells PaperCity The Woodlands. “But we did.

“Clifton and I count ourselves immensely blessed, and we’re already looking forward to 2025, themed Going Places.”

Chris Shepherd’s Hall of Fame Moment

Another highlight of The Woodlands Wine & Food Week came with the induction of dynamic Houston power food couple Chris Shepherd and Lindsey Brown into the event’s Hall of Fame for their decades of culinary achievements. This includes the formation of Southern Smoke Foundation. The foundation has given more than $11.7 million in relief and aid to restaurant workers. It also provides mental health support to those in the restaurant industry.

Lindsey Folger Brown, Cristina Kooken and Chris Shepherd make the scene at The Woodlands' Wine & Food Festival.
Lindsey Folger Brown, Cristina Kooken and Chris Shepherd make the scene at The Woodlands’ Wine & Food Festival.

More Wine & Food Events Beckon

Did you miss this Wine & Food Week? No worries, there’s more grand fun coming. That includes two events this fall — the Platinum Wine Vault set for September 20 at Bayway Cadillac and the H-E-B Wine Walk at Market Street on October 17. Expect more premium wine and food pairings.

And of course the full Wine & Food Week is returning for its 21st year in The Woodlands on June 2 to June 8, 2025.

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