I don’t like using the term “celebrity” when it comes to describing anything about myself–it makes me shy and feel slightly diva-ish–but “celebrity judge” is the title I’ve been given by the press/media and the two organizations whose competitions I’ll be “celebrity judging” this weekend.

It’s only April, and I’m already slated to judge four culinary competitions this year, all of which will take place in my hometown of Houston. I guess the fact that Gordon Ramsay said, “[Christine] has an extraordinary palate,” lends me some credibility when it comes to knowing good food. Two of the four events are being held this coming weekend, so come join me for some competitive culinary fun.

On Saturday, April 12th, Rice University will host the local Houston Cooking Up Change competition where seven teams of high school culinary students create a school lunch that meets strict nutritional and budget guidelines—each meal needs to cost about $1! And the food needs to be palatable, too? If this isn’t an extreme challenge, I don’t know what is. I’d be sweating bullets if I’d been commissioned this on “MasterChef.”

Together with Aramark, the Houston Independent School District students are Cooking Up Change, one lunch at a time, and the winning team will get to compete on a national level in Washington D.C. as part of the national healthy schools campaign.

This Saturday afternoon event is the first of its kind in Houston and open to the public with tastings from noon to 1 PM, so bring your family out to Rice, sample these students’ school lunches, and cheer these young chefs on.

The second event I’ll be judging takes place the next day on Sunday, April 13th, from 4 to 7 PM, and is the Big Brothers Big Sisters BIG Taste at the Corinthian. Top local chefs prepare tastings for everyone to sample, and there will be open beverage and dessert bars, not to mention festive music and even a chance to win an Audi. Proceeds go to helping the Big Brothers Big Sisters program match children up with mentors in Texas.

If you can’t make it to either of these events, the third competition I’ll be judging takes place on May 4th: the 3rd annual 2014 Go Pig or Go Home suckling pick throw down. I attended last year as a patron and think it’s one of the best food events in Houston. Tickets sell out every year, so hurry!

The fourth event is still under wraps; stay tuned.

Hope to “see” you at one of these Houston food events! Have any thoughts on the Cooking Up Change initiative? Did you attend last year’s BIG Taste? Tell us about it in the comments section.


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  1. Best Paleo says:

    These sound like fun events, have a great time.

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