Fans of fine food, wine, and design converged at The 12th International Risotto Festival which was held on Sunday, November 12 at The Houston Design Center. Chaired by Julie and Stephen Chen, Raine and Alan Falik, Leslie and Charles Simmons the event benefitted Casa de Esperanza de los Niños – the House of Hope for Children – is a safe place for children in crisis due to abuse, neglect or the effects of HIV. Janie and Todd Mason served as honorary chairs.

More than 800 guests strolled around The Houston Design Center enjoying delicious Italian foods prepared by some of Houston’s top chefs along with Italian wines, exotic cars and music.

Judges of the blind tasting competition included Carlo Bocchi & Federica AttallaItalian Trade CommissionKim KorthEdible HoustonJustin KouriRecipe for SuccessGreg LaFoletteAlquimista CellarsMellanie PerezModern Luxury Houston MagazineEric SandlerCultureMap, and Cleverley StoneCooking with Cleverley: FOX 26 & Cleverley Show: CBS 650 AM.

Carmelo Mauro competing for Carmelo’s won the blind tasting competition for his Risotto Con Melanzane. Chef Alberto Gutierrez with Tasting Room City Centre was awarded 2nd place and Chef Michael Hoffman with Oxbow 7 was awarded 3rd place. Chefs Dillon & Denver Kao with Express Italia took home honorable mention for their unique risotto creation. Taking home the People’s Choice Award was Scotty Campbell with Bertazzoni.

Other top chefs competing in the Festival included Tiago Almeida of Quattro at The Four Seasons, Jon Buchanan of Third Coast, Maurizio Ferrarese Private Chef, Fadi of Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill, Greg Millo of The Art Institute of Houston, Johnny Mandola of Damian’s Cucina Italiano, Manuel Pucha of Maison Pucha Bistro, and Matt Tahaney of Sonoma Wine Bar & Restaurant.

Guests included Shelley Star, Julie and Stephen Chen, Raine and Alan Falik, Leslie and Charles Simmons, Janie and Todd Mason, Misty and Jeff Lindenberger, Terry and Fred Baca, Missy Stewart, Jeremy & Shelly Edelstein, Jerry and Nan Brewer, Dillon and Marian McCarty, Catherine & Brandon Borders, Carey and Noelle Feldman, Sean and Dina Naslund, Tim Termeer, Mike and Julie Taetz, Dena and Barry Wrenn, Ashely and Derick Grubb, Kenny Baldwin and Carol Hunton.

Event Sponsors include Audi Central Houston, CultureMap Houston, Design House, Houston Pediatric Dental Specialists, Houston Radiology Associated, Janie & Todd Mason, Kitchen & Bath Concepts, LGI Oriental Rugs, MAI Memorial Antiques & Interiors, MLB Capital Partners, Modern Luxury Houston Magazine, Modern Luxury Interiors Texas, PoolSure, Prime Living, Prosperity Bank, Frank Rynd, San Pellegrino/Acqua Panna, Jan and Tom Simmons, Scene One Interiors, Teri Pugh Studio, The Art Institute of Houston, and Thorntree Slate & Marble,

The International Risotto Festival was founded in 2000 and has a rich history as a true culinary competition for a good cause. More than 75 of Houston’s finest chefs have competed to help raise more than a $750,000 dollars for local charities in the 11 productions of the festival since that date.

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