REPUBLISH: from CultureMap
It wasn’t the French Quarter, but a little bit of New Orleans still spiced up Sugar Land Wednesday at the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair kickoff dinner on the grounds of the Imperial Sugar Factory.The seated dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair was part celebration, part Brennan’s family reunion with chefs Mark Holley, Jon Hebert, Randy Evans and Danny Trace combining their culinary talents in six-course meal that paid homage to Brennan’s restaurateur Alex Brennan-Martin.
It was a fitting start to the evening then, that the party started in the Old Imperial Sugar Mill Char House, a red brick building that was both warm and rustic, with white twinkling lights and a jazz band playing.
“(Alex) was about local, before local was cool. He’s my inspiration and why I do what I do,” Evans says.
The Brennan’s inspired dishes started with Oyster BLTs, Roasted New Potato with Dill Cream and Louisiana Caviar, Crawfish Empanadas and Shrimp and Tasso. In true Louisiana style, guests created a spontaneous parade, filing behind the band en route to the spacious white Gallery Furniture tent.
The evening benefited the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Restaurant and Hotel Management and students from the program served as staff, guiding guests through the chef’s dishes, starting with Holley’s crab and corn bisque that was paired with Stags Leap Chardonnay and could have doubled as dessert. Herbert’s course of Texas Wild Shrimp Remoulade balanced the creamy sweetness of the bisque and was paired with Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
Haven owner Evans, anchored the fourth course of grilled Texas Quail that he served with a Honeycomb Balsamic Gastrique that encouraged guests to play with their food by crushing the honeycomb and combining with the quail. That was followed by Brennan’s executive chef Trace’s take on oysters and steak—the O Rockin 44 Farms Petite Filet, served with CYRUS wine.
It was fitting too that the dessert course was Brennan’s Bananas Foster, served with Iron Horse sparkling wine, but the sweetest moments came when the chefs recalled moments from their times at the culinary institution.
“When Chris Shepherd and I were lucky enough to be sous chefs, Alex brought into his office and asked us what we want to change on the Brennan’s menu. Nothing was off the table,” Evans says. “We were saying to each other, ‘”Even the turtle soup? Bananas Foster?’”
It turned out Brennan posed the question to the young chefs as a way to “unchain us from the 40 years of Brennan’s history” Evans says. And no, the menu did not change.
“He was about local, before local was cool. He’s my inspiration and why I do what I do,” Evans says.
The High Tech Texan and Sugar Land resident Michael Garfield emceed the event which included Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson and wife Gay Thompson, Rita and Kevin Simon and other city and county officials.