The evening will begin with cocktails and Hors d’Oeuvres at 7:00 pm.
Unless… you purchase a table, in which case, you will be invited to get to know the chefs in an intimate, behind the scenes, cocktail hour and meet-and-greet at 6:30pm.
Bryan Caswell, Houston
John Currence, Oxford
Kelly English, Memphis
Ryan Pera, Houston
Martha De Leon, Houston
Sarah Schnitzer, Houston
Morgan Weber, Houston
MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST CHEFS…
Chef Bryan Caswell is a true Southerner who was born in Lafayette, LA and spent most of his youth hunting, boating and fishing along the Gulf Coast. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Bryan went on to work for Jean Georges Vongerichten in New York, Hong Kong, Barcelona, and Bahamas. He pairs a passion for exceptionally fresh fish with bold flavors and local produce.
Houston’s culinary scene was immediately elevated with the opening of Bryan’s first restaurant, Reef. At Reef, Bryan has translated his love of fishing onto the plate by featuring less commonly known fish and rotating the menu constantly to introduce diners to more than 87 species from the Gulf Coast since opening the restaurant. Open since 2007, REEF has received rave reviews from critics and helped Bryan earn several prominent culinary awards.
Bryan went on to expand his Houston culinary empire with Little Bigs, a casual restaurant featuring a variety of sliders and milkshakes, and El Real Tex-Mex Café, featuring vintage Tex-Mex cuisine.
Rarely seen without his signature orange Astros baseball cap, Bryan’s favorite project may be his partnership with the Astros and Minute Maid Park where he opened smaller versions of Little Bigs, two El Real Tex Mex Cafés, and the Caz. In 2015, Bryan partnered with noted pitmaster Greg Gatlin to open Jackson Street BBQ, located near Minute Maid Park.
Bryan competed on season 3 of Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef and has appeared on numerous television shows including Bizarre Foods, Top Chef: Texas, Simply Ming, and The Today Show.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Bryan spends his time on the water. He is an avid fisherman, planning his day so he can fish from one of his boats in Galveston, Matagorda Bay or Surfside Beach. Bryan lives in Houston with his photographer wife, Jennifer, and their four kids, four chickens, two dogs and two ducks.
John Currence was born and raised in New Orleans, LA to a family that loved to cook and spend time in the kitchen. His mother’s travels with his father during his childhood, combined with the family’s several years in Europe, brought the dishes of the world to their dinner table, while time spent hunting and fishing in South Louisiana began the education in the foods of his home.
Currence’s first cooking job was while working offshore as a deckhand on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, though he saw his first restaurant job while in school at UNC where he started washing dishes at Bill Neal’s Crook’s Corner. An immediate fascination with the business prompted several supplemental jobs (baking bread at an Italian restaurant, butcher shop at a local grocery store, cutting salmon and bluefish at a local smokehouse, etc). He worked his way up through the Crook’s kitchen and after three years, Currence returned to New Orleans at the behest of a high school friend, Larkin Selman, to open Gautreau’s, where he worked as Selman’s sous chef. After several years, Currence moved on to the Brennan family of restaurants to help open Bacco before finally settling in Oxford in 1992 and opening City Grocery. In the time since, the City Grocery Restaurant Group has seen a number of openings, including Nacho Mama’s, Kalo’s, Ajax Diner, City Grocery Catering Company, Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast and Snackbar.
Currence was recipient of both Restaurateur Of The Year and Chef Of The Year awards from the Mississippi Restaurant Association in 1998. In 2006, he received the Southern Foodways Alliance Guardian of Tradition Award and won the 2008 Great American Seafood Cookoff in New Orleans. In 2009, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef South and was a winner of Charleston Food and Wine Festival’s Iron Chef Challenge.
He is a contributing editor for Garden and Gun magazine and an avid outdoorsman who enjoys bird hunting of all varieties, fishing and golf. John is active in the community, having served as chairman and president of the Mississippi Restaurant Association and president of the Yoknapatapha Arts Council. He is active with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Memphis Ballet, Lafayette County Animal Shelter and is a sitting member of the SFA Board of Directors, for which he has served as culinary director from its inception in 1996.
Recent projects include the Big Bad Breakfast cookbook and restaurant expansion into new markets as well as the award-winning Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey cookbook.
He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife Bess.
2009 Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef” Kelly English is executive chef/owner of acclaimed Restaurant Iris and The Second Line in Memphis. By virtue of his steadfast approach to contemporary southern cuisine, deeply rooted in his Louisiana upbringing and heavily influenced by his travels around the globe, Chef English has earned his position as one of the most recognized culinary names in the South.
Hospitable as he is talented, Chef English is eager to share his passion for culinary craft, unique cocktails and college football with each and every guest he meets. And he’s no stranger to hard work. English studied pre-law at the University of Mississippi, paying his way through college as a cook in local kitchens. The experience inspired him to shift tracks entirely and pursue his passion for food at the Culinary Institute of America, where in addition to studying abroad in France and Spain, English graduated at the top of his class in 2004.
With culinary degree in hand, Chef English returned to New Orleans to cook under the auspice of Chef John Besh in some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants. English fell in love with Memphis later in 2004 when he moved to head up one of Besh’s restaurants in Tunica, Mississippi. After moving back to New Orleans briefly in 2007, English made the decision to call Memphis home and bought the first restaurant he would call his own, Restaurant Iris. Two years later, English was named a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, appeared on the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and earned Memphis Restaurant Association’s “Restaurateur of the Year” award. In February 2012, English was named Memphis’ “Prince of Porc” in the national Cochon555 competition, which landed him a seat at the 2012 Aspen Food & Wine Festival.
English has been featured in Food & Wine magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Bon Appétit, Garden & Gun, and the cookbook Wild Abundance. He believes deeply the power of community and is an avid supporter of the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. English also serves on the Founder’s Council for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and was named a “Young Memphian” by the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce and “Top 40 Under 40” by the Memphis Business Journal in 2013.
Martha De Leon, Executive Chef of Pax Americana, began cooking in high school, predominately for friends and family. She enrolled in culinary school at The Art Institute of Houston and graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management. During that time, she interned first at Recipe 4 Success, then at RDG Bar + Annie. After her internship ended with Bar + Annie, De Leon stayed on as a line cook for about a year and a half, working through the majority of the stations.
From there, she spent a year at Revival Market and two years at The Pass and Provisions.
After departing Pass and Provisions, De Leon was approached by Adam Dorris, the chef at the time of Pax Americana. She took a sous chef position at Pax. After a year and a half, De Leon was promoted to Chef de Cuisine, and continued to oversee the daily and nightly operations of the restaurant. At the beginning of January 2017, Dorris left the restaurant, and De Leon assumed the role of Executive Chef after having worked at Pax Americana for just over two years.
After a complete menu reboot in early February, De Leon still focuses on using the same fresh ingredients that Pax has always used, while implementing her style and creativity and rotating menu items in and out through the seasons.
Ryan Pera is known for his thoughtful approach to cooking and his strong dedication to sustainable practices. The chef and co-owner of three celebrated concepts in Houston’s Heights neighborhood–Revival Market, Coltivare and Eight Row Flint–has built businesses allowing him to source products from within, whether it’s vegetables grown in Coltivare’s 3,000-square-foot garden or charcuterie cured in-house at Revival Market.
He moved to Houston with his wife, a vascular surgeon, in 2003 for her residency and soon found work as chef de cuisine at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston. He landed his first executive chef position at 17 Restaurant in the Sam Houston Hotel and was revered for his modern American menu. He opened The Grove as executive chef in downtown Houston before building craft butcher shop and cafe Revival Market with co-owner Morgan Weber three years later. Named one of the five best new artisan butchers in America by Bon Appetit, Revival Market allows Ryan to showcase his skills in craft butchering and charcuterie, giving the public a place to buy quality, sustainably raised meats. In 2014, Morgan and Ryan opened Coltivare, a cozy neighborhood restaurant and garden inspired by Ryan’s Italian heritage featuring Gulf Coast ingredients. Named one of Texas Monthly‘s 10 best new restaurants in the state, Coltivare was also included on Bon Appetit‘s list of the 50 best new restaurants in America. The duo turned to bourbon and tacos in 2015 when they opened Eight Row Flint, a modern Texas ice house.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill grad got his start in the culinary industry washing dishes in his college town. He immediately took to the business and began cooking in some of North Carolina’s finest restaurants. Ryan moved to Manhattan to further his career, working under Chef Sottha Khun at the four-star Le Cirque and Chef Jonathan Waxman at Washington Park, where he was sous chef. Ryan is a founding member of the Organized Collaboration for Restaurant Affairs (OKRA), a group of like-minded restaurant and bar owners who pursue community and charitable initiatives in Houston. The organization opened the OKRA Charity Saloon in 2012, a not-for-profit bar in downtown Houston that has raised to date more than $700,000 for local charities. He is on the culinary boards for both Recipe for Success, a foundation combatting childhood obesity, and No Kid Hungry, an organization aiming to end child hunger.
Ryan was named Food & Wine magazine’s People’s Best New Chef for the Southwest region in 2015, as well as Chef of the Year at the Houston Culinary Awards that same year.
Bio coming… But until then, jus tkonw that she is the amazing talent behind some of the best deserts in Houston at Pax Americana.
Morgan Weber–musician, farmer, real estate developer, bartender–worked in a variety of industries before finding his true passion as a restaurant and bar owner. His knowledge and far-reaching experience have proved to be assets for Agricole Hospitality, the company Morgan co-owns with Chef Ryan Pera.
After studying to be a studio jazz musician (trumpet and piano) at Baylor University, Morgan had a change of heart and took a job negotiating public improvement projects in the Houston suburbs. Later, he jumped at the chance to negotiate bigger, more high profile real estate acquisitions at Metro for their new rail lines.
While at Metro, Morgan visited California and had his first craft cocktail in San Francisco; he was immediately hooked. After an intense bar top cocktail crash course in New Orleans, he immersed himself in research and cocktail blogs. Soon he connected with fellow Houstonian and classic cocktail enthusiast Bobby Heugel and together they and partners opened Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston’s first bar dedicated to classic cocktails in 2009.
By the time Anvil opened, Morgan had been spending more and more time at his family farm in Yoakum and decided to part with Anvil and invest his earnings back into the farm. He raised pigs and sold them at the farmers market and to restaurants like Underbelly and The Grove. Morgan’s growing interest in whole animal butchery led him to a brief training at Mosfund Farm with Austrian butcher Christoph Weisner.
In 2011, Ryan, who was the executive chef at The Grove at the time, and Morgan decided to open Revival Market, inspired by City Meat Market in Yoakum. Revival Market, the first of its kind in Houston, opened to national accolades and has since evolved to become a full-service breakfast and lunch restaurant and butcher shop.
The success of Revival prompted the duo to open Italian restaurant Coltivare, where Morgan developed the cocktail menu, in 2014. While building the spirits list and managing the bar program at Coltivare, Morgan’s interest in bourbon continued to grow. Once he ran out of room for bourbon on the back bar at Coltivare, the idea for Eight Row Flint, aptly named after the variety of corn first used in American whiskey, was born. Eight Row Flint was named one of the best new bars in the country by Playboy in 2016.
At each of our Salty Suppers a Gulf Coast organization, voted on by our guests via ballot, receives a portion of the evening’s fundraising. The three organizations presented on our ballot all share the same ideals as Southern Salt Foundation. The remainder of the funds raised are directly applied to the foundation and our future goals. 100% of the funds raised, go back into our initiatives to support the Gulf Coast. Our organization is 100% run by volunteers so every penny goes right back into the Gulf Coast and causes that support a holistic preservation of the Gulf.