McDonald’s hosts Chef Experience Houston “Iron Chef” competition

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(Last Updated On: May 6, 2016)

A trio of Houston chefs brought their A-game to the first annual Chef Houston Experience as they competed against one another in an “Iron Chef” like culinary competition to raise funds for a good cause.

Hosted by Houston-area McDonald’s owner operators and benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston, Inc. (RMHCGHG), the event took place on Sept. 26 at the Galleria Omni Hotel.

Executive chefs Rey Darthard, Michael Gabriel and Bruce Molzan were challenged to create entree’ and dessert dishes prepared with ingredients used in McDonald’s menu items.

The evening’s top honors went to Chef Rey Darthard, former executive chef of the Houston Astros and current executive chef for the Houston Rockets, who was crowned winner of McDonald’s first-ever “Red Shoe Chef” award. Chef Rey also took home the coveted People’s Choice award for his stuffed chicken breast entree’ and signature strawberry cheesecake.

Chef Michael Gabriel, former Hell’s Kitchen contestant and owner of the Pan-Asian food truck BTG670,  nabbed the Judges Choice award for his mouth watering entree’ dish, while Chef Bruce Molzan, executive chef of Ruggles Green, won Judge’s Choice awards for his highly sophisticated and delicious dessert creation.

Judges of the culinary competition included Fox 650 AM Food and Wine Contributor Cleverly Stone, McDonald’s Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Innovation Dan Coudreaut, and Master Chef 2012 winner, Christine Ha.

The upscale event, emceed by KHOU Channel 11’s Ron Trevino and Chita Johnson, not only showcased the talents and culinary expertise of three of Houston’s top chefs, but also raised over $244,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities and its core programs which support the well-being of children in the Greater Houston and Galveston areas.

“The generosity of our community in supporting our inaugural Chef Experience Houston event where we crowned our first ever “Red Shoe Chef” is overwhelming. With the support from this event, we will be able to extend the reach of our programs beyond 8,000 children this year,” said Ronald McDonald House Charities Executive Director Tanya Gee.

Empower Magazine red carpet kid reporters, Victoria Baynes Lopez and Iyanni Pradia, conducted one-on-one interviews with several of the night’s guests preceding the culinary competition.

Guests contributed to the success of the night with donations to the event’s silent and live auctions which showcased a variety of sports memorabilia, artwork, and celebrity giveaways, including, a signature Roger Clemon’s jersey, a gospel brunch for eight with legendary gospel artist Yolanda Adams and a set of private dinners for 12 at former Houston Rocket Tracy McGrady’s home, and more.

What an excellent night showcasing great chefs masterfully preparing McDonald’s menu-inspired culinary dishes in true “Iron Chef” fashion for a worthy cause.

A special highlight of the night included a “Hero of the Heart” presentation to honoree Flo McGee for her more than 30 years of service aimed at improving health care and social services for children.

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston / Galveston is to create, find and support programs that directly benefit the health and well-being of children in our community. For more information, visit

To view all of the photos from the event, click here.

Photo credit: LV Davis of PicsbyLV

McDonald’s hosts Chef Experience Houston “Iron Chef” competition