16,000 pounds of mudbugs

last weekend, king of crawfish aka jim gossen of louisiana foods threw a crawfish boil of colossal proportions for the OTC kick-off party held at U of H every year. the feast of crusteans involved a 16,000 pound order of live louisiana crawfish.

when jim invited me to come by and check out his custom crawfish-cooking mechanism, it was an offer i simply couldn't refuse. this contraption enabled him to dish out 5,000 pounds of crawfish an hour! i walked away in complete awe. and after a six-month plus hiatus from my blog, jim finally gave me a subject that i couldn't wait to report back on.

Take a look at this set-up.

step 1: CLEANING. bags of pre-washed crawfish were dumped into washing tanks for a final rinse. dead crawfish floated to the top of the water and were hand-picked out.

conveyor belts pulled live crawfish from the bottom of the tank and deposited them into huge metal baskets. there were 2 of these machines running simultaneously.

step 2: COOKING. metal baskets filled with crawfish were lifted by 2,000 lb electric hoists and dropped into large boilers.

crawfish were cooked for 4-5 minutes in one of five boilers of seasoned water containing dry and liquid crab boil, and jim's secret ingredient, tabasco mash.

a box of tabasco mash, dried leftover sediment from the Tabasco sauce-making process.

step 3: electric hoists pulled metal baskets out of boiling water and hot, cooked crawfish were dumped into metal chutes where they got a second coating of dry seasonings--louisiana foods' proprietary blend of salt, cayenne powder, lemon, celery powder, and onion powder.

step 4: the bottom of the metal chute was opened and crawfish were transferred into carts and wheeled into the party tent.

crawfish stayed hot in huge, insulated storage containers until guests were served. corn and potatoes were served separately from smaller ice chests.

the stats:
people: 15,000
food: 16,000 lbs. crawfish (2 18-foot trucks worth), 2,000 lbs. potatoes, 8,000 ears corn
powered by: 227 gallons propane

boy, would i love to throw one of these shindigs for me and all of my friends (heck, and their friends too). so how much would it cost to throw one of these events? a ballpark figure: $60,000. when i win the lottery, jim will be one of the first people i call... and you're all invited.
photos courtesy of jim gossen


bivalve throwdown

i've stuffed you with fried chicken and then pork belly until you couldn't move anymore. next up is OYSTERS! the 3rd in the series of houston chowhounds chef throwdowns is coined the bivalve throwdown or #BVTD on twitter.

bryan caswell and bill floyd from REEF are graciously hosting this shindig on Sun, Nov 8th from 4-9ish PM.

BVTD chefs will be required to prepare 2 oyster dishes for the judges in this competition: 1 raw and 1 cooked. chefs will be able to choose from several varieties of live gulf oysters in the shell and freshly shucked oysters. all oysters will be provided for the competition, chefs will only need to bring their other ingredients. to compete, chefs must register by tue, 10/27. the final chef line-up will be announced on Mon, 11/1, so check back soon.

the amateur chef potluck competition will be battle gumbo. 10 houston chowhounds will be competing for bragging rights in this contest that the home cooks take equally seriously.

the event promises to be bigger and more impressive than the last. expect a shucking contest, several raw oyster bars with live shuckers, and -- as always -- a massive spread of gastrodelights.

as always, a wild card judge will also be chosen for the panel of judges. if you would like to be considered, please submit a short essay on "why you should be a BVTD judge" to imneverfull@gmail.com by 10/31.

to purchase tickets, click here.
for official event details and competition guidelines, click here.

big thanks to the event sponsors, REEF, louisiana foods, and saint arnold.


southbound food show #8

this week we're publishing the podcast links to our upcoming show this weekend a few days early. it's just too hilarious to keep to ourselves for another 48 hours.

the parody of the NEW southbound food show is our response to several recent attempts to sabotage our new radio show by another local radio personality. i think you'll agree that it is quite funny. and big thanks to our special guests this week: the legendary restauranteur tony vallone of tony's & soon-to-open ciao bello and robin goldstein of fearless critic restaurant guide.

this show airs Sat, 9/12 at 11AM on AM 1560 the game. tune in or stream it live from 1560thegame.com

segment 1 - parody of NEW southbound food show, new local restaurants, oyster throwdown announcement
segment 2 - tony vallone discusses his new casual restaurant, ciao bello opening on 9/12
segment 3 - robin goldstein discusses 2nd edition of fearless critic houston restaurant guide & book release party on 9/16

please leave your feedback on the podcast website or email it to southboundfood@gmail.com


southbound food show #7

great show last weekend with special guests michael dei maggi and robert hall III, of the califonia winemaking family robert hall winery, who will be opening the rockwood room together this october. the restaurant will be located near woodway and chimney rock and will feature iconic american cuisine such as roasted prime rib, charbroiled steaks, and broiled lobster tail.

segment 1 - hosts discuss top chef & various other delicious topics
segment 2 - mike dei maggi discusses the menu at the rockwood room
segment 3 - robert hall discusses the wine program at the rockwood room

next weekend, tony vallone will be stopping by the studio to talk about ciao bello, his new casual, italian eatery opening in the former jimmy wilson's spot on san felipe & sage on sat, sept 12th. we're also delighted to have robin goldstein of fearless critic media and "the wine trials" joining us to discuss the upcoming release of the second edition of the fearless critic houston restaurant guide.

the fearless critic houston restaurant guide 2nd edition book release party will be hosted at new living at 6111 kirby on wed, sept 16th from 5:30 - 8pm. everyone is invited to attend.


september new restos

fall in houston not only holds the excitement of cooler weather but will also see the opening of lots of new restaurants. this month, check these out:

tesar's in the woodlands had a soft opening last night after a busted piped delayed the opening by one day. the "modern steak & seafood" menu offers parallel tastings of both grass-and-grain-fed beef, 4 types of kobe ribeyes, and fish dishes have an emphasis on whole fish. in addition to the proteins and raw bar, i'm looking forward to trying the butter-poached king crab, beef cheek ravioli with crispy sweetbreads, and cauliflower brulee, the outdoor tesar's burger bar will also offer grass-and-grain-fed beef burgers and handcut fries with your choice of truffle oil, wasabi, or chili. here's is the dinner menu and cocktail & dessert menu.

valentino serving contemporary italian cuisine opens in the hotel derek [corrected: in mid-september]. vin bar complete with an italian raw bar will be opening first and the formal dining room will be in full operations a couple weeks later.

straits serving upscale singaporean cuisine will be opening in town & country's citycentre on sept 28th.

read my write-ups on these new restos on juli b for more info.

in addition, lynette hawkins' giacomo's cibo e vino is set to open on sept 9th in river oaks on westheimer & bammel where pan y agua once stood. hawkins opened the now defunct la mora in the 90's. the menu which features antipasti, panini, pasta, and grilled items has been posted to their website. take a look.

[added: the folks that brought us pink's pizza & dragon bowl is opening lola in the heights on sept 12th. check out 29-95.com to sample their casual comfort food at a special preview event the night before.]

[added 9/7: tony vallone's new casual, italian eatery named ciao bello will be opening in the former jimmy wilson's spot on san felipe & sage on sat, sept 12th. tune into southbound food on sat, sept 12 at 11am to hear tony give us the full deets and the run-down on all the changes they are making.]

southbound food show #6

here are the podcast links to the southbound food show that aired on sat, 9/29 with special guests gail simmons, from top chef and special projects director for food & wine magazine, and chef jamie zelko who is opening zelko bistro in the heights this fall.

segment 1 - lance zierlein, bryan caswell, & jenny wang discuss top chef & 1560 the game mug awards, jamie zelko talks about zelko bistro & her boss burger coming to the houston heights this fall; everyone "drops" miracle berries

segment 2 - Q&A with gail simmons about cheftestants on new season of top chef, how to judge 12 plates of food in one sitting, how she feels about the the way she is portrayed on the show, and more.

segment 3 - flavor tripping with the berry fairy (jenny wang & lea mckinney) and more with jamie zelko


southbound food show #5

here are your podcast links to last weekend's southbound food radio show with bryan caswell, jenny wang, and lance zierlein, danny vara, & frank bullington from 1560 the game.

segment 1 - the gang chats about the pork belly throwdown at catalan
segment 2 - pork belly throwdown sound bites: cody vasek (VOICE), jonathan jones (beaver's), ryan pera (the grove), antoine ware (catalan), antonio gianola (catalan), and jenny wang
segment 3 - lennie ambrose from saint arnold brewery & justin vann, houston's newest and youngest advanced sommelier, from vic & anthony's.

special guests next week:
- gail simmons , bravo's top chef judge & special projects director for food & wine magazine.
- jamie zelko, former executive chef of lancaster bistro opening zelko bistro in the heights this fall
- the berry fairy, jenny wang & lea mckinney host an on-air miracle berry flavor tripping to promote their upcoming flavor tripping party at ei8ht lounge on wed, 9/2

tune into 1560 AM at 11AM this Sat morning or stream it live from 1560thegame.com
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