CollaborEIGHT Dinner Series Features Two Powerhouse Chefs in The Woodlands

The last CollaborEIGHT dinner prior to the pandemic brought together two powerhouse chefs in The Woodlands, Chef Austin Simmons of TRIS and Cureight, and relative newcomer to the area, Chef Stefano Ferrero of Zanti Cucina Italiana, for a remarkable evening of spectacular food and atmosphere.

Jo Anne and Troy Johnson

Butter Poached King Crab

As Chef Austin stated when the meal began, “If you leave here hungry tonight, it is your fault.” I think it is safe to say, no one left hungry and not a single person could consume another bite by the time the evening concluded. As is the format for each of the CollaborEIGHT dinners, both chefs present four courses served with wine pairings. The meal began with a refreshing Shellfish Ceviche with Shrimp Cracker by Chef Austin that was absolutely sublime! The Langoustine Caviar Risotto paired with “Artesis” Cotes du Rhone Blanc by Chef Stefano was out-of-this-world and another highlight of the evening. There was no shortage of meat either as Chef Simmons, recently named “Best Chef” by the Houston Press and who has become a local expert in the field of meat aging and exceptional cuts of beef, showcased his knowledge and skills.

The savory Dry Aged Beef on Truffle Ravioli by Chef Austin, and Braised Beef Cheeks by Chef Ferrero left guests needing to adjust their belt buckles. Each course delivered titillating flavor combinations that delighted the taste buds. The obvious respect and mutual admiration between the chefs was a wonderful complement to the outstanding display of food and technique.

Chef Austin puts the finishing touches on his Dry Aged Beef on Truffle Ravioli

Braised Beef Cheeks

“While The CollaborEIGHT Dinner Series helps highlight many well-acclaimed chefs to our guests at TRIS, our team benefits the most from these events,” stated Chef Austin. “Providing an eight course dinner experience to a large crowd is always a big task, that we achieve working as a team. We all see these collaborations as an opportunity to learn from each other in the kitchen.”

Jonathan Hitchcock; Alejandro & Majo Pelaez; Elvira Graham; Lonny Soza; Matt & Christin Allphin; Silvia Gonzalez; Pedro Cajiga; Santiago Pelaez, Zanti Founder & CE0; Haydar Kustu, Director of Business Development & Marketing, Black Forest Ventures/TRIS

Chef Austin looks on as Chef Stefano prepares the Langoustine – Caviar risotto for service.

Chef Stefano Ferrero, originally from Piemonte, Italy, has fond memories of cooking with both his father and grandmother prior to attending and graduating with a degree in gastronomy from SPAI University of Lugano where he had the opportunity to work with distinguished chefs from different backgrounds. Chef Ferrero comes to The Woodlands as Head Chef at Zanti, the namesake of Founder and CEO Santiago Paleaz. Chef Ferrero and Zanti Cucina Italiana are already making their mark on The Woodlands culinary scene in spite of opening only a year ago, and were thrilled to be invited to collaborate with Chef Austin.

Pistachio Profiterole

Key Lime Tart

Do not miss the opportunity to attend a CollaborEIGHT dinner when they resume, although I have a hard time imagining how it could top the collaboration between Chef Austin and Chef Ferrero.

Chef Austin Simmons and Chef Stefano Ferrero

For more information or to make a reservation at TRIS or Cureight: triswoodlands.com; cureightwoodlands.com, and for Zanti Cucina Italiana:  zanticucina.com.

Article by: Janelle Romano

Farm Fresh Foods

The farm-to-table restaurant culture is bursting onto The Woodlands culinary scene with wholesome food and the freshest local products in high demand. 

Food lovers are savoring the inventive fusion of local and seasonal goodness from the abundance of quaint bistros and cafes that are popping up all over The Woodlands area. Whether you’re in the center of town or keen to explore the wider countryside that surrounds us, a healthy, farm fresh bowl of goodness awaits.  

From boutique cafes to the more established culinary names in the area, all of these restaurants embody the belief that healthy food can be delicious and flavorsome. They pride themselves on using only locally sourced ingredients and the freshest seasonal products.

And what’s more, these eateries continue to build on a cause close to our hearts too – community involvement. As well as sourcing as many products from the nearby area as they can, many of these homegrown diners know what it means to give back to the community by using small, local businesses to handcraft much of their décor. These restaurants also aim to be as environmentally conscious as possible by composting and recycling.

Each of the cleverly crafted menus will help you on your way to becoming a seasoned health foodie, while respecting the community and environment that allows us to enjoy the healthiest fare to our hearts desire.  

Here is our list of the top farm-to-table and ranch-to-fork fare in The Woodlands area that will satisfy any palate and keep you coming back for more.

TRIS 

TRIS sits in the heart of The Woodlands and is the definition of fine dining incorporating the ranch-to-fork philosophy. Executive Chef Austin Simmons and his talented team at TRIS treat loyal customers and new guests with the perfect experience through upscale food and drink, artful service and finely tuned hospitality. 

Whether you’re looking for a casual business lunch or a high-end dinner, you can rest assured that you are in good hands at TRIS with an artfully crafted menu featuring some of the finest cuisine in Texas.

TRIS honors its passion for true ranch-to-fork fare by partnering up with Unique Meats, a family-owned business and premier provider of exotic meat from the best ranches across South Texas. The team at Unique Meats pride themselves on the quality of their meat, which starts with free-range ranches where the deer are raised on grass and free of steroids and medications. Unique Meats ensure their meat is delivered humanely from the field direct to the table.

TRIS now has a new exclusive steak program with HeartBrand Ranch,  a beef company specializing in bringing 10-year-old beef to consumers. Heartbrand Ranch, recently featured in Texas Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, is carving out a market for cuts from more mature animals. The ranch, headquartered in Harwood, Texas, is an Akaushi cattle ranch dedicated to breeding superior beef. TRIS was one of only a handful of restaurants nationwide to receive a portion of the first 10-year-old cow and is now proud to be bringing Woodlands consumers an exclusive steak experience.

Try: Chef’s Burger. Two smashed Akaushi Wagyu patties, bacon jam, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, English muffin

The Wheel Kitchen

Serving up farm fresh food since October 2016, this charming eatery is set on a lush area of farmland on the outskirts of The Woodlands and has become a top favorite on the farm-to-table scene.

Serving and catering for both breakfast and lunch, the menu items feature only homemade, organic or farm-raised ingredients. It’s easy to feel right at the heart of the real food movement here with plates that change with the seasons and beautifully crafted dishes bursting with the freshest local products. 

Try: The Wheel Buddha Bowl. Seasonal roasted vegetables, a spinach blend, organic brown rice, quinoa, roasted chicken breast and an herbed chia yogurt sauce.

True Food Kitchen

With a philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse, True Food Kitchen ‘celebrates a passion for better living’.

Featuring a passionate team of chefs, restaurateurs and a doctor of integrative medicine, the True Food philosophy envisions healthy, fresh food that packs a whole lot of punch without ever sacrificing an ounce of flavor and taste.

The central Woodlands location offers an extensive menu that caters for all lifestyles including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

Try: The Ancient Greens Bowl. Miso sesame glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow pea, grilled Portobello, avocado, hemp seed. With your choice of any protein. 

 

Flower Child

A vision of ‘healthy food for a healthy world’, Flower Child burst onto the fresh food dining scene, opening their Lake Woodlands location in April this year.

Flower Child offers dine in and takeout options, with a promise to nourish mind, body, and soul.

Beautifully crafted plates and organic drinks made from scratch help bring the concept of a happy plate to life. Using only farm fresh ingredients from close to home, the restaurant aims to cater to all tastes from paleo and vegan to kids and just plain hungry!

Try: The Glow Bowl. Spicy sweet potato noodle, bok choy, zucchini, onion, jalapeno, shiitake mushroom, coconut milk and sunflower butter.

Herb & Beet

Head on over to Herb & Beet’s new Sawdust location for a true taste of Texas. Its handcrafted menu changes seasonally to offer the best of the area’s produce all year round.

This fast-casual restaurant has partnered with dozens of local farms to bring the freshest farm food to The Woodlands area. With a three-tiered focus on food roots, sustainability and staff appreciation, Herb & Beet honors its environmentally friendly approach from the ground up, from its expansive patio garden to its efficient kitchen equipment. 

Try: Hickory Smoked Cobb Salad. Crisp romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado, house smoked bacon, tomato, blue cheese crumbles, deviled egg, and smoked poblano dressing

The Kitchen

Another popular choice in The Woodlands culinary scene is The Kitchen. Formerly known as Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen, the restaurant first began serving meals to Woodlands diners back in November 2010.

Kick back in a relaxed, casual setting as The Kitchen brings its executive chef Austin Simmons’ culinary vision to life. Offering hot and cold sandwiches, live oak wood grilled meats, burgers and farm fresh vegetables, The Kitchen also offers a 65 item salad bar and eight homemade soups daily. 

Try: Oak Grilled Mahi Mahi. Ginger soy glazed, butter whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus, arugula and cilantro.

Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar

A firm fixture in The Woodlands Village of Creekside Park, Fielding’s Local Kitchen + Bar, is a popular restaurant known for its quality of local-sourced ingredients. Working with 44 Farms in the Houston area, as well as small wineries and craft brewers, the restaurant is the epitome of farm-to-table creativity. 

The impressive, ever-changing menu features steaks that are hand cut and beef that is dry-aged on the property. The kitchen makes its own pasta and bakes all of its breads and pastries daily. 

The restaurant also pays homage to the environment from which it receives its array of succulent ingredients, having been built using as many repurposed and energy efficient materials as possible. Part of its bar is made of reclaimed whitewashed wood and all booths and bar stools are recycled leather. They even have a filtering water system for cooking and drinking water.

Try: 12oz 44 Farms, Texas
Prime Ribeye. Dry-aged 40 days. 

Bellagreen

Hailing itself as ‘the greenest restaurant in Texas’, Bellagreen is an American bistro for the new age. Every item is made from scratch in their kitchen, located on Research Forest. Bellagreen aims to deliver the most flavorsome tastes as possible by using the freshest and finest local ingredients. The kitchen is more than happy to modify items on an individual basis to align with any dietary choice whether it’s gluten or dairy free, to vegetarian, keto and paleo.  

Bellagreen also reinforces its Green Philosophy by focusing on reducing its ecological footprint through water-saving devices and alternate power sources. By practicing exactly what they preach, Bellagreen’s green practices keep them in harmony with the environment. 

Try: Honey-Fried Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad. Baby arugula, fresh jicama, almonds, raisins, shaved carrots & mango, tossed with mango ranch dressing & topped with parmesan cheese & a honey-fried goat cheese medallion.