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Houstonian Hotel GM Steve Fronterhouse, Executive Chef Neal Cox & Celebrity Judge Levi Goode

HOUSTONIANS HAVE BEGUN dipping their toes back into in-person events — witness the Houston Symphony Ball in late February — and the Houstonian Hotel is on the leading edge. The grand hotel hosted an outdoor, socially distanced barbecue cookoff at its Manor House on it lush grounds, with none other than Levi Goode of Goode Co. Barbeque, Armadillo Palace and other top restaurants as celebrity judge.


Five "official cook teams" competed in the Inaugural BBQ on the Bayou Cook-Off "for bragging rights and trophies," the Houstonian says. Guests enjoyed country music, cocktails and "all the brisket, chicken, and ribs they could eat." Teams had begun cooking the night before and even handed out samples and cooking advice to an eager wedding party that happened to be celebrating at the hotel that evening!

James & Jacquie Baly Craig, Lee & Seliece Womble

5 Cook Teams competed with ribs, brisket and chicken

S. Richard & Maria Cutler

Aaron Lobe, Robin French, Dr. James Flowers

The competitors included several pitmasters and teams that for years have participated in the cookoff at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which was canceled this year due to Covid. They were grateful for the opportunity to gather, compete and catch up. "We have all become family," says John Rufini of the Ol' Army Cookers team. "We've been doing it so long, and our kids — we call them barbecue babies — generation after generation are doing what we love."

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