Culinary Tours - Bus

Houston’s top chefs - who are just as interested in showcasing Houston’s mom and pop restaurants as their own - continue their mission into 2012 to introduce locals and visitors alike to Houston’s culinary diversity by showing participants where they eat on their days off. Three years in, Houston is still the only city in the country offering chef-concepted, chef-led culinary tours.

This program gives participants intimate knowledge about the city and its chefs: unexplored neighborhoods, undiscovered restaurants and markets that contribute to the locally-driven menus of each chef. The tours, limited to 16 participants, are $180 per person (includes tastings at each stop, complimentary local Saint Arnold’s beer, limobus transportation and gift bag).

More nationally-recognized chefs are participating this year. In addition to The Next Iron Chef’s Bryan Caswell and Top Chef Masters’ Monica Pope, Top Chef Just Desserts’ Rebecca Masson is leading two tours. Additional tastemakers have been incorporated into the program, including James Beard Award nominated mixologist Bobby Heugel of Anvil Bar & Refuge and Avi Katz, of Houston’s famed Katz Coffee.

Also new this year - the tours benefit Foodways Texas, a nonprofit organization founded by several of the participating chefs to preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas.

New tours for 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012: Chinese New Year with Chefs Chris Shepherd and Justin Yu
On sale Dec. 1, 2011 at noon (Central time)
Join Underbelly’s Chef Chris Shepherd and Chef Justin Yu, as the duo highlights the eating traditions of the Chinese New Year - the centuries-old celebration that marks the end of the winter season. Tag along as the pair dig into dumplings, savor hot pot dishes, vegetarian offerings and classic Chinese celebratory fare.

Saturday, February 18, 2012: Late Night Bars and Bites with Chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner, Terrence Gallivan and Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd
On sale Dec. 1, 2011 at noon (Central time)
Get some rest and come ready to paint the town. Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd - the masterminds behind Montrose’s Anvil Bar and Refuge and Hay Merchant - are teaming up with Pilot Light Restaurant founders Chef Seth Siegel-Gardner and Chef Terrence Gallivan on an after-dark adventure spotlighting Houston’s top late-night haunts.

Sunday, March 18, 2012: Oyster with Chef Bryan Caswell and Robb Walsh
On sale Feb. 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Catch the bus when cookbook author Robb Walsh and Chef Bryan Caswell of Reef, Stella Sola and El Real set out in search of all-things oyster. Discover where to find the best bounty in the city, helpful shucking tips and get a lesson on the difference between East Coast and Gulf varieties. Caswell and Walsh will also highlight the local seafood counters selling Galveston Bay oysters, before bellying up to a few H-Town oyster bars for a taste of the sought-after seafood.

Sunday, April 22, 2012: Crawfish with Chefs Mark Holley and Jonathan Jones
On sale March 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Craving crawfish? Pesce’s Chef Mark Holley and Beaver’s Chef Jonathan Jones are spotlighting the southern favorite at institutions all over H-Town. Sample it sautéed and fried at two of Holley and Jones’ favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, before heading to a chef-approved market to pick up supplies for a classic crawfish boil. Get a lesson on cooking time, proper seasoning and even ideas for extra ingredients to add to the pot.

Sunday, May 20, 2012: Chef's Day Off with Chefs Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner
On sale April 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Join Chef Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of Pilot Light Restaurant Group on their day off. Snag a picnic table with ’em at the oldest ice house in the city, where brew and barbacoa tacos go hand-in-hand. Later, they group will swing by their neighborhood grocer to pick up supplies for a backyard pig roast.

Sunday, June 10, 2012: Hong Kong City Mall/Secrets of Bellaire Blvd with Chefs Randy Evans and Chris Shepherd
On sale May 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Grab a seat alongside Underbelly’s Chef Chris Shepherd and Chef Randy Evans of Haven restaurant as they share the secrets and standouts of Houston’s new Chinatown. Join them as they highlight delicious dim sum destinations and visit a couple of Vietnamese outposts known for their bahn cuon, bánh mì and spicy crawfish. Plus, learn the ins and outs of navigating one of the largest Asian markets in the city.

Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012: Indian with Chefs Monica Pope and Chris Shepherd
On sale Aug. 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Head to Hillcroft with Monica Pope - of t’afia and Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters fame - as she teams up with Underbelly’s Chef Chris Shepherd for an afternoon highlighting Houston’s Indian food scene. Settle in at a family-owned spot known for its bold flavors, spice and charcoal-oven Tandoori, before visiting a nearby sweet stop and Indian grocer.

Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012: Day of the Dead/Airline Drive with Chefs David Cordua and Hugo Ortega
On sale Sept. 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Join restaurateur-chef Hugo Ortega - of Montrose’s Hugo’s - and Chef David Cordua of Americas for an afternoon filled with cuisine and culture. Stop by the Museum District where a local gallery celebrates art, music and the practices of Mexico during a series of Día de los Muertos events. Later, the group will dig into savory snapper a la plancha at a Mexican mainstay, take a guided tour of Airline Market and swing by a Heights bakery for pan de los muertos.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012: Coffee and Dessert with Chefs Rebecca Masson, Ruben Ortega and Avi Katz
On sale Oct. 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Jump on the bus with Pastry Chef Rebecca Masson - of Top Chef Just Desserts - Hugo’s Pastry Chef Ruben Ortega and Avi Katz, the founder of Houston’s celebrated Katz Coffee company. Together, the trio will guide guests on appetizing afternoon filled with culinary confections including handmade Italian gelato, soft-baked cookies, moist cupcakes and the best coffee bean-based drinks the city has to offer.

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012: Farm Tour with Chefs Randy Evans and Claire Smith
On sale Oct. 1, 2012 at noon (Central time)
Canopy and Shade Chef Claire Smith and Chef Randy Evans of Haven restaurant venture beyond the Loop to celebrate all-things locally-grown. Start the day at a Sixth Ward farmers market offering up fresh fruits, vegetables and prepared foods from area vendors, before chasing down some of Houston’s top food trucks known for their locally-sourced cuisine. Finally, venture to one of the chefs’ favorite farms for pick-your-own produce and a tour of the land.

Tour favorites being repeated in 2012
  • World BBQ With Chef Chris Shepherd and Robb Walsh (Feb. 26, 2012)
  • Street Food with Chefs Jonathan Jones and Rebecca Masson (May 13, 2012)
  • Long Point Road with Chefs Bryan Caswell and Chris Shepherd (July 22, 2012)
  • Southern Comfort with Chefs Randy Evans and Mark Holley (Aug. 19, 2012)
  • Vietnamese with Chefs Bryan Caswell and Ryan Pera (Dec. 10, 2012)
Log on to for the complete 2012 lineup, chef bios, details and photos of previous tours and more. High resolution images and HD footage are available.

The Where the Chefs Eat Houston Culinary Tours are coordinated by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and sponsored by Central Market.