12 Houston Chefs Go Head To Head At The Great Banh Mi Cook-off

The Great Banh Mi Cook-off benefiting BPSOS- Houston occurred this week and was a huge success. Twelve Houston chefs from some of the hottest restaurants went head to head in the ultimate competition to determine who was the true “Banh Mi Rock-star”.

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From left to right: Lily Jang, Mai Pham, Gristle&Gossip, and Greg Morago

Four local judges were selected to be a part of the fun and I was fortunate enough to be one of them. With a last minute change in venue due to weather, this team scrambled to find another location and get the word out to the chefs and ticket holders. Kim Son graciously opened their doors to BPSOS- Houston and you would have never known the venue changed by how PACKED it was.

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The 12 chefs last night brought the pain, literally, as all the judges were PAINFULLY STUFFED after tasting all those sandwiches. Chefs included: Chef King & Co., Copper Chefs, Culinary Creations catering, Fat Boa, Flying Saucer, Fung’s Kitchen, GiAu Bar N’ Bites, Hearsay Gastro Lounge, Kim Son, R&D BBQ & Taco Nuts.

The Banh Mi, typically referred to as a “Vietnamese sandwich” in the states, is categorized as “comfort food” within the culture. The bread is traditionally a french baguette, which provides a great crunch. While the concept of the “meat filled sandwich” originated in Saigon.

The various Bahn Mi’s from the judging. I am missing two ..I must have inhaled them before getting a photo.

The Banh Mi’s spanned from super traditional to creative spins on the beloved sandwich. As I don’t typically eat Banh Mi’s I leaned more towards the “traditional” sandwiches with sardines, pate or pork, while the masses seemed to mostly enjoy the beef. In my opinion the bread makes the sandwich but with the weather most breads were not as “crunchy” as we would have hoped.

We tasted some truly mouthwatering sandwiches last night and sadly no one from my top 3 won. But the great part is, I can highlight them here as they are still winners to me!

Cooper chefs (Conner M. & JP): The 2 sandwiches we tasted consisted of a soft buttery roll, pulled pork (which was soaked in white wine for 8 hours) & Jack Daniels Chicken liver. I had to stop myself from eating all if it!


Fat Bao (Pak Tsui): Served up a traditional Banh Mi with sardines, pate, pickled watermelon and french butter. The bread was crispy and perfect.


GiAu Bar N Bites (Nick Nguyen): By the time we received this sandwich we up to our eyes in bread and our judging table was a complete mess. This particular Banh Mi was a breath of fresh air as one of the ingredients was a quail egg. The delicate flavor of the quail egg accompanied GiAu’s spicy pork belly, mayo and Serrano pepper combination quite well.


But it was R&D BBQ who took home the prize and the title of “Banh Mi Rock Star” with their beef brisket Banh Mi. To me this was more of a “brisket sandwich” vs. a Banh Mi and mine was mostly fat. Which kept me from getting the true flavors. My husband on the other hand wouldn’t stop talking about how good it was!


The presentation was beautiful and creative, 2 aspects of the judging criteria. It was accompanied by a glass of chilled Schloss Vollrads 2011 Riesling (which was damn good) and the bread was from common bond (damn good as well). How can one go wrong with that trio?!



Congrats to the amazing winners and all the chefs who participated. Special thanks to BPSOS- Houston’s Advisory board for inviting me out and treating me to a truly spectacular evening of great food, fun and laughs.


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