History

The Most Creative Food Festival Ever

Fans of fine food and wine are cordially invited to attend one of Houston's finest culinary festivals. The 11th International Risotto Festival will be held on Sunday, November 8 from 2 to 6 pm at The Houston Design Center. This gourmet strolling event includes an afternoon of delicious Italian foods and wonderful wines including samplings of antipasti, tastings of all risotto entries, Italian music and entertainment, exotic car display, activities for kids and designer showroom tours. Some of Houston’s top chefs will be competing in this year's competition.

Since its founding in 2000, this popular charitable event has raised more than $500,000 for worthy causes including the Children's Assessment Center, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Dean's Academic Excellence Fund at the Conrad N Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and the Education Foundation providing scholarships for students at The Art Institute of Houston and The Art Institute of Houston-North.

This year The International Risotto Festival will support and raise awareness for pediatric cancer research through The Scarlett Fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (read more here).

A Rich History of Great Chefs

More than 60 of Houston’s finest chefs have competed to help raise more than a half million dollars for local charities in the 10 productions of the International Risotto Festival. The first Risotto Festival was presented in June 2000 at the Houston Polo Club and won by Toby Joseph, then Executive Chef at the Remington in the St Regis Hotel.

Over the years, many great chefs have competed in one of Houston’s premiere culinary competitions. This list includes Executive Chef Jon Buchanan has twice won the competition (the first time for Daily Review Café and then with Trevisio). Multiple Medal winners include Chefs Efisio Farris (Arcodoro), Carmelo Mauro (Carmelo's), Ricki Cruz (Grotto), Philippe Schmit (Bistro Moderne, Philippe's), John Sheely (Mockingbird Bistro), Tony Ruppes (Tony Ruppes) and Jamie Zelko (Zelko Bistro).

Medal winning Chefs include Lulzim Shimaj (Arcodoro), Scott Tycer (Aries), David Grossman (Branch Water Tavern), Peter Kut (Melange Catering), Scottie Campbell (Milestone Distributors), Bart Black (Olivette at the Houstonian), Mark Holley (Pesce), Maurizio Ferrarese (Quattro at The Four Seasons).

Other food establishments of note that have competed over the years include Abuso Catering, Brennans, Carol's at Cat Springs, Carrabba's, Damians, Divino, Gravitas, Ibiza, Inn at Dos Brisos, La Griglia, La Reserve at Omni Hotel, La Strada, Magnolia Hotel, Mark’s, Masraff's, Massa's, Max's Wine Dive, Mia Bella, Prego, Ristorante Cavour at Hotel Granduca, The Art Institute of Houston, The Tasting Room and Tony Mandola's.