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HOUSTONIA: More about Houston’s Most Ambitious Food Event This Summer

HOUSTONIA: More about Houston’s Most Ambitious Food Event This Summer
The 28 chefs that participated in Indie Chefs Week DC in February 2020. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam Photography.

COMMUNE will bring some of the nation’s most exciting chefs to the Bayou City.

By Timothy Malcolm

WHAT DOES A 2021 FOOD EVENT LOOK LIKE? If it’s anything like COMMUNE, Indie Chefs Community’s ambitious two-week activation set to take over Heights House Hotel late this summer, it could completely redefine the genre.

Announced by ICC on Thursday, COMMUNE will bring some of America’s most exciting chefs to Houston to take part in a multitude of pop-ups, collaborative dinners, classes, discussions, and more between August 21 and September 5. We’re talking Mason Hereford from New Orleans’s Turkey and the Wolf, Philip Speer from Austin’s Comedor, and Kim Alter from San Francisco’s Nightbird Restaurant. James Beard Award-winner Justin Yu is one of the chefs who’ll represent Houston—no doubt others will be involved too.

The idea is not to do the usual thing. In taking over Heights House Hotel, including bar and restaurant Space Cowboy, COMMUNE will open a number of restaurant-quality installations, all with different aims.

For instance, New York’s Zoe Kanan, formerly of Simon & the Whale, and Libby Willis, of recently shuttered MeMe’s Diner, will create an onsite Jewish deli. Kevin Tien of Washington, D.C.’s Moon Rabbit will do an omakase pop-up. Another special dinner hosted by chef Kurt Evans will focus on what’s needed to end mass incarceration.

Grover Smith, founder of Indie Chefs Community—which has over the years put on more than a few dozen of these larger-scale events, or activations—wants to give the chefs not only the space to do what they want, but the time, money, and resources.

He’s paying many of the visiting chefs to close their restaurants while they’re in town. He’s also covering their transportation and entertainment costs. Heights House Hotel will handle lodging. It’s not just about bringing attention to these chefs and industry professionals, but also he wants to give them opportunity to network, learn, and feel revived after attending.

“If someone is going to take five to six days from their life to come, they should get some other benefits out of it, ancillary benefits,” Smith tells Houstonia. “I knew that we could do something different. If you provide a vessel and mechanism for that, you can set them up for success.” READ MORE IN HOUSTONIA MAGAZINE