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Home > Guests > 20th Anniversary Special Guests

20th Anniversary Special Guests

Chef Masaru Fukuda, Pacha Nikkei

Back to defend his Chef of Chefs 2023 winning title is Chef Masaru Fukuda, the acclaimed and internationally trained culinary artist, and the driving force behind Pacha Nikkei, Houston’s first dedicated Nikkei restaurant. Nikkei cuisine is a captivating fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavors.

Fukuda, a fourth-generation Nikkei Peruvian, brings a rich cultural heritage to his culinary creations. " When I think of my home in Peru, I picture my mom making those delicious Peruvian dishes full of flavors and traditions, made from the fresh ingredients she bought from the market every day. I also remember my obachan (grandma) preparing the rice and veggies to make makis and onigiris, Japanese rice balls. Both Peruvian and Japanese cuisines are part of my history and my family, and they inspired my love of Nikkei food.”

Before launching Pacha Nikkei, Fukuda honed his skills at renowned establishments such as Kata Robata and Latin Bites. His passion for Nikkei cuisine was further kindled during his experience at Rice Village’s Politan Row Food Hall.

Another bright culinary gem…welcome back Chef Fukuda.

Katie Stone, The Cleverley Stone Foundation

We’re pleased to welcome back Katie Stone as a special guest and culinary judge. Katie serves as president of The Cleverley Stone Foundation, which produces Houston Restaurant Weeks and Eat Drink HTX. Founded by her late mother, philanthropist, and media personality Cleverley Stone in 2003 and now in its 20th year, Houston Restaurant Weeks is the largest annual fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank and to date has raised $20 Million.

Katie is also a food contributor for FOX26 and hosts a weekly live TV show, ‘Foodies & Friends’, which airs every Wednesday at 3 pm.

Katie grew up in Houston playing basketball and chess. She spent four years with the Houston Rockets as a ball kid during their championship years and went to UT Dallas as part of their internationally acclaimed chess program. While in college, Katie founded a company that organized summer chess camps for children in over 100 cities across the U.S.

Like many chess professionals, Katie turned to professional poker in the mid-2000s and became one of the most recognized and skilled female poker players and commentators in the world. In 2022, Poker Stars recognized Katie as one of the "Most Inspirational Women in Poker" at a presentation in Barcelona, Spain.

In memory of Cleverley Stone who was inducted into the Wine & Food Week Hall of Fame in 2022.

Harvey Dunn, PaintJam

Harvey Dunn traveled the world backstage with his famous speed painting father Dan Dunn, since he was 10 years old. Now the baton has been passed to Harvey and we are thrilled to welcome him back for a command performance headlining Sips, Suds &Savor during this year’s 20th anniversary celebration as one of our special guests.

With his theatrical approach, Harvey has amazed arenas and stadiums full of Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Tennessee Titans, and Minnesota Lynx fans. He wowed the digital audiences of Nickelodeon and Weird Al with amazing virtual events. He and his father delighted guests at last year’s Sips, Suds and Savor.

After high school Harvey entered the workforce in blue-collar jobs, realizing his place in the world was to be covered in paint, on a stage, entertaining audiences. So, he was thrilled to join his dad who was looking for someone to partner with in the industry. Now…he is the star of the show.

The crowds love him, and you will too! Mark your calendar for June 7 to see Harvey Dunn live in PaintJam.

Monique Studak, Wine Educator

Effervescent wine educator Monique Studak joins Wine & Food Week for the second year as the moderator of the Ladies of the Vine Tasting, Panel & Luncheon.We are thrilled to welcome her back as one of our culinary and wine industry gems.

Monique explains that after 25 years in the alcohol beverage industry Thirst for Knowledge was born as an opportunity to bring together her passions for Wine and the Art of Selling. “Helping people discover wine for the first time, dig deeper into their appreciation or gain confidence in their ability to sell tableside, or business to business, creates within me great satisfaction. Wine, people, travel, and adventure are all active ingredients in my life,” she explained.

Much of Monique’s career was spent focused on restaurants, hotels, bottle shops and national accounts. She developed wine and training programs for the trade and educating the public. She began her career in the Texas Wine Industry at Messina Hof, before spending 16 years with the E&J Gallo Family of Wines and 7 years with Pernod Ricard.

Recent projects include teaching a refresher class on hand selling to HEB Wine Stewards. And, working with Customer Account Managers from Pernod Ricard on actively selling wine to restaurants in the post COVID world. She is also the President of the Board of Directors of Women and Wine Charities.

An active speaker on a local and national level, from small groups to professional organizations, always with an eye on creating ‘ah ha’ moments, Monique is a connector of people, a generator of ideas and a creative problem solver. Her personal mantra is that life is about celebrating both the big and small successes along the way.

Cheers to that!

Guy Noel Stout, Stout Family Vineyards

Wine icon and founder of Stout Family Vineyards, Guy Stout attended the first Wine & Food Week in 2005 and has served as Wine Wizard Master of Ceremonies across multiple years, welcoming other wine industry greats to the fold. He has been an invaluable supporter of Wine & Food Week, and we welcome him back in 2024 as a special guest.

Guy was inducted into the Court of Master Sommeliers (MS) in 2005 when there were only 215 in the world. He is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS) and previous President of the Society of Wine Educators. Guy has also served on the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommelier and has been recognized as a Houston Icon for his contribution to the Wine and Food Industry of Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Houston Hilton School and has appeared on countless radio and television shows covering wine and food.

In 1999 he and his wife Kimberly, founded Stout Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country AVA, producing Syrah and Tempranillo grapes later partnering with winemaker, Tom Rinaldi, a top winemaker with deep roots and experience in Napa Valley of well-known labels such as Duckhorn, Hewitt and Provenance. They have been making Stout Family wines since the 2011 vintage.

Guy is an active wine judge for a variety of national and international wine competitions; including the TexSomm International Wine Awards, California State Fair, Jefferson Cup, Missouri Grape Growers, Indiana State Wine Competition, and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition.

Cheers to this wine icon!

Carlos Ramos, Latin Bites

Winner of the Chef of Chefs Award in 2016 for a Yellowfin Ahi Tuna Tiradito in a Passion Fruit Leche de Tigre with quinoa and purple potato chips, Chef Carlos Ramos returns in 2024 as a Culinary Judge.

Carlos Ramos was born and raised in Peru and has worked in restaurants since he was 15 years old. That passion and love of food led him to open Latin Bites and Latin Bites Catering in 2010. With a Master of Arts in Teaching, Carlos also shares his passion with others as a Culinary Educator.

Latin Bites is a Latin American restaurant with an extraordinarily strong focus on Peruvian cuisine. As a family owned and operated business it takes pride in offering the most authentic Peruvian ingredients to produce some traditional dishes from Peru like “Ceviche” – fresh raw fish lightly marinated in chili peppers, and a ginger-garlic lime juice sauce called “Leche de tigre” or the “Lomo Saltado”, a Peruvian-Chinese dish of wok sautéed beef tenderloin pieces in a red wine, garlic, oyster and soy sauce; or the Peruvian street food staple “Anticuchos” Grilled skewers of beef heart marinated in a mix of specialty peppers and spices from Peru.

Carlos explains that what sets Latin Bites apart is its ability to offer a variety of food that is unique in flavor and technique. “In that sense, we don’t do Asian fusion because it is trendy, we do it because it’s in Peruvian cuisine’s DNA. Or we don’t just cook Quinoa because everyone is doing it, but because that is what we eat in Peru.”

The result of this natural fusion of flavors has landed Latin Bites in Top 100 restaurant list by Houston Chronicle for 8 years, as the 2016 Chef of Chefs Award Winner at Wine & Food Week and as a Top 10 Finalist twice in the NASA Culinary Competition on behalf of Chef Ramos’ culinary class.

Welcome back, Chef Carlos.

Michael Cordua

Michael and his son David will take part in the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase on June 8, 2024.

In 2013, the Chef of Chefs Hall of Fame was created at Wine & Food Week.To honor individuals with a lifetime of culinary achievements.Michael Cordua was the first recipient of that award, having just been recognized as Food & Wine Magazine’s Top 10 Chefs of America, and for his innovative restaurants, years of charitable work and for making a huge mark on the Houston restaurant scene.We are pleased to welcome Michael Cordua back as one of our culinary gems and a 20th Anniversary Special Guest.

Michael is a pioneer of the Latin-American culinary movement in the United States and created award-winning Houston-area restaurants including Américas in River Oaks and The Woodlands; Churrascos in River Oaks, Westchase, Sugar Land, Memorial City and Champions; Amazón Grill; and Artista.

Cordúa’s career has met with national critical acclaim. The original Churrascos was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine in 1989. Américas was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire in 1993. Texas Monthly magazine named Artista “Best New Texas Restaurant” in 2004. Esquire named Churrascos one of the “20 Best Steaks in America” in 2008 and, Travel + Leisure magazine named Churrascos one “The Best Steakhouses in the U.S.” in March of 2013.

Born in Managua, Nicaragua, Cordúa moved to the United States in 1976 to study at Texas A&M University, graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Finance. Here he began to hone his cooking skills by preparing meals for his friends that reminded him of food from home. He also worked in the Sbisa Dining Hall at Texas A&M and got his first restaurant experience as a pot washer at Pepe Taco, a fast-food establishment.

Cordúa planned to return home to Nicaragua and work in banking after college but stayed in Houston due to the 1979 Nicaraguan Sandinista Revolution. His stint in maritime shipping took him around the globe exposing him to fine cuisine unheard of in his home country.This lit a fire under him, and he decided to open his first restaurant, Churrascos, hoping to elevate Latin-American cuisine beyond Mexican food for a mainstream American audience. His menu centered on the Churrasco steak, which has roots in Argentina and Nicaragua, and blended the excitement of American ingredients with the discipline of European techniques of cooking. The rest they say is history.

Within a year of Churrasco’s opening, Cordúa opened a second location in River Oaks followed soon after the first Américas restaurant. Today, Cordúa works in tandem with his son, David Cordua--a self-taught chef with no formal training, who opened The Lymbar in the Ion.

Michael Cordua was the only Texas chef to be included in the prestigious Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chefs” Hall of Fame in 2008. He was named one of America’s “Top Ten Chefs” by Food & Wine Magazine in and received the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence in 1994. He has been a James Beard Award semifinalist three times. In 2013, he was one of 25 chefs selected for the Food & Wine: Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook, in which Food & Wine selected one chef per year from its annual crop of 10 “Best New Chefs.” The only Texas chef in the book, Cordúa is featured alongside American culinary royalty such as Thomas Keller, Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Colicchio, John Besh, and David Chang.

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