Education Sessions Schedule

Keynote Conversation: Anita Jaisinghani & Chris Shepherd

Join two well-renowned Texas chefs for an in-depth conversation on the cultural and culinary landscape of the Houston food scene. Chefs Anita and Chris will discuss how they both contribute to the culinary scene and what they value the most in their businesses and restaurants. We'll also hear about their accomplishments and how they plan to contribute to communities outside of Texas. You don't want to miss out on this unique conversation!

Because giving back is so important to Anita and Chris, we encourage you to check out their chosen charities: 


Monday, July 15, 2019


1:00pm - 2:00pm


Big Bend Big Ideas Stage


Chris Shepherd, Georgia James
Anita Jaisinghani, Pondicheri
Mariam Parker, Austin Food & Wine Alliance

Keynote Speakers

Chris Shepherd headshot

Chris Shepherd

Chef Chris Shepherd has helped change the landscape of the Houston culinary scene. After opening his first restaurant Underbelly, Chris was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2013 and the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. 

He owns and operates Georgia James, UB Preserv, One Fifth, Hay Merchant and is a partner in Blacksmith. In 2019, Georgia James, UB Preserv and One Fifth were No. 1 on Texas Monthly's list of the Best New Restaurants in Texas. Georgia James was on GQ's list of the best new restaurants in America. He was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Chef in 2019. Chris’ first cookbook, Cook Like a Local, will be published in September 2019. 

Chris' foundation Southern Smoke has donated $1.3 million to the National MS Society and to those in the food and beverage industry in crisis.

Anita Jaisinghani

Anita Jaisinghani, the chef & co-owner of Pondicheri was born and raised in India and is of Sindhi descent. She began her culinary career with an out-of-home catering business & selling chutneys through Whole Foods.

Her first restaurant job was at the famous Café Annie, where she worked in the pastry department for 2 years. Following her time at Café Annie, Anita opened Indika in 2001 serving deeply personal dishes that illustrated her desire to portray Indian food in a new light. Pondicheri, followed in 2011, expanding with the opening of the Bake Lab + Shop in 2014 & it’s first out-of-state outpost in New York City in the summer of 2016. With all of her kaleidoscopic menus, Anita combines the complexities of Indian cuisine with leanings toward the ancient body of wisdom of Ayurveda, the magic of spices & the goodness of fresh, local ingredients.

mariam parker

Mariam Parker


As Executive Director of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance (AFWA), Mariam Parker is deeply invested in the growth and success of Central Texas’ food businesses. As the non-profit’s first executive director, she has worked with and cultivated relationships with the state’s top chefs, wine- and spirit experts, farmers, artisan producers and other culinary professionals. By orchestrating some of Austin’s most popular and successful food and wine events, Mariam has helped to lead the AFWA to realize its mission in providing more than $250,000 in grants given back to Austin’s culinary community to support innovation and community giveback since 2011. Her background includes work as a social media strategist, product marketing, business development and event planner. When she isn’t at work, you can find her at one of the restaurants around Austin or planning her next culinary experience or journey.