Houston’s State of Grace hosting Executive Chef Bobby Matos (in cap) times Chefs Alvin Schultz and Graham Laborde during the final round of the State of Grace Oyster Shucking Contest. Photo: Jessica Matos Photography/Facebook

by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

While the modern world churns t there is a place off Houston’s famed Wertheimer Drive where life slows down, even stops. That is of course except for once a year when the highly acclaimed State of Grace Restaurant throws its annual birthday party that benefits their hometown community – this year the Houston Food Bank’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort and the Gulf Seafood Foundation’s hurricane relief effort for fishermen.

Through the efforts of Gulf Seafood Foundation Board Member Raz Halili of Prestige Oysters, who collaborated with State of Grace for the silent auction, and Adity Saini of Houston’s BBVA Compass Bank who donated autographed sports memorabilia, more than $1300 was raised during the Sunday Oct. 29th event. The proceeds will be distributed by the Gulf Seafood Foundation to assist fishermen across the Gulf affected by the two hurricanes.

The celebration kicked off with an array of highly acclaimed guest chefs competing in an oyster shucking competition. Prestige Oysters and Brent Zirlott of Alabama’s Murder Point Oysters provided the Gulf bivalve molluscs for the seven shucking chefs that included:

  • Terrance Gallivan of The Pass and Provisions
  • Graham Laborde of Kilen’s
  • Ryan Lachaine of Riel
  • Food Network “Chopped Winner” Erin Feges
  • Alvin Schultz of Eat, Drink, Experience
  • Richard Kaplan of Acute Events and Catering
  • Becky Masson of Fluff Bake Bar

The restaurant’s Executive Chef Bobby Matos emphasized how important it was to give back to the Houston community that has supported his restaurant the past two years, especially the fishermen that provide the oysters and other seafood for his customers who have been hard hit because of the two hurricanes in the region.

During Hurricane Harvey, Gulf Seafood Foundation’s Board Member Raz Halili (left) used a jet ski to rescue people caught in flooding during the storm. Photo: Prestige Oysters

“On behalf of Gulf Seafood Foundation, it’s Board and our Gulf Coast Fisherman we thank State of Grace and everyone responsible for the generosity,” said Gulf Seafood Foundation’s Chair Jim Gossen. “These donations to our fishermen show that the hospitality industry and the dining public feel their losses and care about their future. In order to continue to enjoy Gulf Seafood, we must all remain connected in this partnership.”

According to Halili, who Chairs the Foundation’s Charitable Committee, he would like to see the money used to provide assistance to as many fishermen as possible, something as simple as work gloves that are used daily on the boats.

“We have raised approximately $4000, it is not a lot but we are a relatively small, as well as new, foundation,” he explained. “We will make sure every dollar donated is given to the fishing community. Gloves are a necessary part of every boat. We can buy a lot of gloves to ensure everyone feels a part of the recovery when they head out to fish.”

Galveston Bay oyster season opens on Wednesday and Halili says that the oystermen are not sure what they will find when their drudges his the bays bottom.   He hopes for the best, but fears that might not be the case.

How to Contribute

“Every dollar donated to the Foundation will go toward helping those who provide Gulf fish to the tables across America and around the world,” said Gossen, Chairman of the Gulf Seafood Foundation.  “We are resilient. We are survivors. We have been through this before and we have always come back stronger.  This will be no exception.”

To donate to the Gulf Seafood Foundation please choose the DONATE button below or send a check or money order to: Gulf Seafood Foundation Hurricane Harvey Relief,  2851 Johnston Street, Suite 162, Lafayette, LA 70503.

Houston’s State of Grace Silent Auction Raises Donations for Gulf Fishermen as Chef’s Shuck Oysters
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