Courtesy of TPWD

Texans love to get outdoors, and we're lucky to have 89 state parks, historic sites, and natural areas to explore across our great state. Totaling more than 640,000 acres, these public lands are reaching a major milestone in 2023 and one traveling exhibition is commemorating the event throughout the year.

Kicking off at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, "The Art of Texas State Parks"will honor the Centennial Celebration of Texas State Parks with a stunning visual survey of more than 30 parks. Featuring works by some of the state's most celebrated artists, the display will start at the Bullock on January 7 and run until April 30 before moving on to other cities later this year.

Several years in the making, the exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. H-E-B provided additional support for the project as a presenting sponsor of the Texas State Parks Centennial Celebration.

“We are grateful for the partnership that is bringing 'The Art of Texas State Parks' to museums across Texas, spreading the message about these natural treasures that belong to us all,” said TPWD Executive Director David Yoskowitz, Ph.D., in a release.

In total, 30 Texas artists were commissioned to create works celebrating parks across Texas, all with the mission to increase public awareness of Texas parklands and heighten their popular appeal through their elegant and inspired works. Participating artists represent multiple regions across the state, including: DavidGriffin (Lubbock/ Dallas); Pat Gabriel, Billy Hassell, and Jim Malone (all of Fort Worth); Mary Baxter (Marfa); Charles Criner (Houston); Ric Dentinger (San Antonio/Santa Fe NM); Fidencio Duran (Austin); Brian Grimm (Fredericksburg); Clemente Guzman (San Antonio); and many more.

Along with the traveling exhibit, the project also includes a commemorative book published by Texas A&M Press, which is already available online through Texas A&M Press, the Bullock Museum Store, and Amazon. Proceeds from book sales and the sale of the artwork through Foltz Fine Art in Houston will be donated to Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to benefit Texas State Parks.

“It was a real pleasure to see the passion these artists brought to this project, and we’re thrilled these works will be on display at prestigious museums across Texas,” said Andrew Sansom, co-author of the commemorative book and founder of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, in the release. “It is our fervent hope that these works of art will inspire present and future generations of Texans to forever appreciate and protect their parks.”

After its spring stay in Austin, the exhibit will travel to the Houston Museum of Natural Science from May 26 to October 1 before heading to the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon from October 27 through February 18, 2024. The exhibit will also be displayed in 2024 in College Station, Albany, and Tyler.

Those looking to participate in the Centennial Celebration all year long can visit TexasStateParks.org/100years, which includes info on the ongoing partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and TPWD, as well as details about special community events taking place at state parks throughout 2023.

Texas State Parks Centennial

Courtesy of TPWD

Billy Hassell, Red-bellied Woodpecker with Mallards, Daingerfield State Park, 2021, oil on canvas, 40x30 in.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

These 10 chefs are the rising stars of Dallas' 2023 dining scene

Awards News

Awards season has arrived with the 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. It's the premiere food celebration, combining nods to top chefs and restaurants with a tasting party featuring sips and bites.

Over the next few weeks, we'll spotlight nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best bartenders to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.

We'll honor them at a celebratory party on May 4 from 7-10 pm at The Fashion Industry Gallery, with tastings and an announcement of the winners, voted on by a panel of their food & beverage peers, and emceed by F&B pro Jason Roach. Tickets to the event are already on sale, for $60 to $125 (for VIP), and can be purchased here.

While we count down to the big party, we'll get to know the nominees in an editorial series leading up to the event.

Our first installment profiles the category of Rising Star Chefs. These are the up-and-comers, the chefs who are newly established in their own kitchens or restaurants, or who've made local waves for their food.

Meet the nominees for Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Anthony Hsia - Ellie's
Executive chef at fine-dining restaurant at Hall Arts Hotel
Hsia says he began his culinary career "by accident," when he was dining at a friend's restaurant in Germany and jumped into the kitchen after a chef walked out. Before joining Ellie's as executive chef, he helped open the W Taipei, a luxury hotel in Taiwan, and has worked at The Fairmont in San Jose and Singapore, the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, and in the Catering Division for Google Headquarters.

Corrin Ellis - Tango Room
Executive chef at Design District steakhouse from Tim Headington
California native attended Xavier University of Louisiana in pre-med before switching to the food & beverage industry, working for the SBE Hospitality group of Beverly HIlls at concepts such as Cleo, a Mediterranean restaurant at the Redbury Hotel in Hollywood. After cooking at The Henry in West Hollywood, she got transferred to do the same for its sibling in Uptown Dallas. She's also punched the clock for Unco (HG Sply Co.) and for the Yardbird Group.

JP Mancha - Poco Fiasco
Executive chef at Italian restaurant from Harwood Hospitality Group
Mancha trained at Cordon Bleu and has worked with acclaimed chefs at restaurants such as Bijoux, Small Brewpub, The Cedars Social, 18th & Vine BBQ, and CT Provisions. He joined Harwood in December 2021 and has served as executive chef at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, helped reopen Dolce Riviera in May 2022, and helped launch this pizza concept, inspired by the great pizzerias of Brooklyn. He's also part of the private events team at Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens.

Justin Mosley - Meridian
Executive chef at Brazilian restaurant in The Village
Mosley previously worked with mentor chef and Meridian founder Junior Borges at FT33 and Mirador, and helped revamp the menu at Meridian into its new fixed-price format in the main dining room, featuring a four-course meal in which diners can select three or four choices in each course for $735, with an optional wine pairing for $40.

Kashawn Cruell - Carbone Vino
Chef de cuisine at Italian restaurant from New York-based Major Food Group
A graduate of CUNY New York City College of Technology Hospitality Administration, this New York transplant has been working with chef Mario Carbone at his Major Food Group organization since he was 17, including The Grill, Carbone, Sadelle's, and The Parm (where he got written up by the New York Times), and now Carbone Vino in Dallas. He also helped his fiancee Paige Muller launch Boxed Bites, a charcuterie gift company.

Mike Matis - Fearing's
Chef de cuisine at renowned Ritz-Carlton Dallas restaurant from chef Dean Fearing
A native of Virginia and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Matis worked in the Washington, D.C. restaurant scene before heading overseas to serve as Sous Chef of Conte-Gouts in Lausanne, Switzerland. He also worked at Khong River House in Miami, and was previously executive chef under Chef Stephan Pyles at Stampede 66. At Fearing’s, he launched Fearing’s and Friends, a dinner series bringing in local Dallas chefs for sold-out collaborative dinners.

Mike Stites - Cry Wolf
Chef de cuisine at highly rated East Dallas restaurant from chef/owner Ross Demers
A native of Corpus Christi, Stites gained valuable life experience that included serving in the Army and selling cars before transitioning into the restaurant industry, starting with an externship from Le Cordon Bleu at SER in the Anatole. He's worked in sterling kitchens including Stephan Pyles' Flora Street, Roister in Chicago for Grant Achatz, Wolfgang Puck's Five Sixty, Gemma, and Carte Blanche, before landing at Cry Wolf.

Sophia Schoenstedt - Gemma
Chef de cuisine at acclaimed American bistro on Henderson Avenue
Minnesota native was a prodigy, completing an online program with Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Certificate of Culinary Arts while still in high school. She earned an associate's degree at Minnesota State University and graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education Culinary Arts before joining Union Square Hospitality Group, working in New York and Hawaii at restaurants such as Maialino Mare and Marta. She's also a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Health & Wellness coach.

Terance Jenkins - Restaurant Beatrice
Executive chef at Louisiana-inspired restaurant from chef Michelle Carpenter
New Orleans native is a sought-after consultant who started his career making gumbo at the famed Commander's Palace. He was most recently chef/owner of Bon Temps Events in Houston, and has led kitchens at AmberJax, Screen Door, and Cedars Social, as well as tenures at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Rex’s Seafood, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Whole Foods, where he oversaw composting and locavore practices, and is a member of El Centro Food and Hospitality Institute’s Hall of Fame.

Tony Ibarra - The Village - Anise
Executive chef at apartment complex restaurant installation
Ibarra grew up in El Paso, attended Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, and has worked at critical favorites such as Petra and the Beast, FT33, CBD Provisions, Small Brewpub, Proof & Pantry, and Nana.

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Spring is officially here and there’s a two-day, floral-themed afternoon tea party with shopping to celebrate. Also get ready for backyard barbecuing with a pitmaster class. Multiple pairing dinners, including wine, whiskey, and tequila, help round out the list. Save room for a soul food festival by Sunday.

Tuesday, March 21

Herman Marshall Whiskey Dinner at Urban Rio
Experience Wylie-based Herman Marshall Whiskey during this four-course pairing dinner at Urban Rio Cantina & Grill in Plano. The $70 ticket includes tax and gratuity. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, March 23

Taste of Texas at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen
It's an evening of Texas fare including dinner, meet-and-greet with Texas spirit vendors, and a local musician performing tunes from Texas-born artists. Menu by chef Jasmine Copeland includes venison with sweet potato, crab, red ceviche, Texas BBQ oyster, bison short rib, and pecan cheesecake, and is accompanied by Texas wine, beer, and bourbon. Diners get take-home recipes and goodies. It runs from 6:30-9:30 pm and is $130, with attendance limited to 30 guests. Reserve online.

Tequila Dinner at Cantina Laredo
Get a taste of Mexico City during this four-course dinner at Cantina Laredo in Frisco. Each course will be paired with a different cocktail made with Tequila Corazon. Courses include ceviche, fresh asparagus soup, choice of red snapper or New York strip, and mixed berries with tequila cream. Dinner is $79.99, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 7 pm. Call 214-618-9860 for reservations.

Saturday, March 25

Pitmaster University at OAK’D
Learn how to smoke brisket with the best of them during this Saturday morning barbecue class. OAK’D chef and pitmaster Michael Lane will lead the instruction, sharing his secrets on selecting and trimming meat, controlling temps and timing, and creating rubs and marinades. The hands-on class is $99 and will run from 8-9:30 am.

LoveShackFancy Afternoon High Tea at Hotel Crescent Court
The vintage-inspired feminine lifestyle brand LoveShackFancy Dallas will partner with Hotel Crescent Court to host a whimsical garden tea party and pop-up shop Saturday and Sunday. Wear your fanciest floral dress and visit the hotel for flower-laden tablescapes and a multi-course menu, including caviar, lobster salad on pumpernickel bread, roasted duck with apricot glaze, and strawberry chiffon cake. The $225 ticket, plus a service fee and tax, includes a $100 gift card to the LoveShackFancy pop-up shop and a canvas tote bag. Add endless bubbly for a ticket price of $250. Seating times are 10 am and 12 pm on Saturday and 12 pm and 2 pm on Sunday.

Sunday, March 26

Selena Brunch at Peticolas Brewing Company
The Dallas brewery will commemorate the life and music of the Tejano superstar, who died tragically on March 31, 1995. Visit from 11 am-3 pm to hear her music (there’ll be room to dance) and enjoy food trucks serving tacos, burgers, pizzas, and even Selena-themed cookies. The brewery will also bring back their michelada and beermosa bar for the occasion. The first 50 people to arrive in Selena-themed gear will get a rose.

Doughnut Pairing at Oak Highlands Brewery
Chef Diana Zamora and her Nena Postreria bakery concept are partnering with the brewery for a doughnut pairing, combining four brews with four gourmet doughnuts including a corn cake doughnut with Mexican whiskey caramel, pan dulce, al pastor empanada, and a Bunuelo Mexican fried cinnamon sugar, paired with Raspberry Porter. It starts at 11 am and it's $20. Reserve tickets online.

Dallas Soul Food Festival
There’ll be live music, kids’ activities, and soul food galore during this Sunday afternoon festival to be held at The Lofty Spaces at 816 Montgomery St. Prepare to indulge in pork chops, oxtails, candied yams, greens, fried chicken, fish, barbecue, funnel cake, tacos, and even vegan options. Food will be available for purchase from individual vendors and admission is free with an RSVP. The festival will run from 12-6 pm.

Monday, March 27

Euro Trip Wine Dinner at Urban Seafood
The Plano seafood destination will take diners on a trip around Europe during this four-course wine dinner. Each course will be paired with a different European wine. The $95 ticket includes tax and gratuity. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm.

Texas' first professional cricket team unveils new name and team roster

Cricket News

The first professional cricket team in Texas now has a team name and a talented roster of players.

This is the state's first professional cricket team in Major League Cricket (MLC), which is the first professional cricket league in the U.S. So many firsts.

Get ready to cheer for: Texas Super Kings. That's the name. Go Kings go!

They also hired a coach and nine players, following the first MLC draft which took place on Sunday, March 19 in Houston at the Space Center and telecast live across the globe.

At this event, six MLC teams — representing Texas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. — selected nine domestic cricketers.

Texas' team will be led by coach Stephen Fleming, a former captain of the New Zealand national cricket team and head coach of Indian Premier League team Chennai Super Kings. He played in the historic first Twenty20 International of the world as captain of the New Zealand team in 2005.

The Texas Super Kings also announced their partnership with Chennai Super Kings, an Indian Premier League franchise cricket team based in Chennai, India who will bring operational expertise and help lead the Texas team to championships.

The Texas Super Kings' roster features these top domestic cricketers:

  • Round 1: Rusty Theron
  • Round 2: Calvin Savage
  • Round 3: Lahiru Milantha
  • Round 4: Milind Kumar
  • Round 5: Sami Aslam
  • Round 6: Cameron Stevenson
  • Round 7: Cody Chetty
  • Round 8: Zia Shahzad
  • Round 9: Saiteja Mukkamalla

Texan Super Kings' co-owner Anurag Jain notes in a statement that cricket is popular around the globe, and now it's time to make it popular in the U.S.

“Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world with a global fan base of around 2.5 billion followers, but there has not been an opportunity for the sport to grow in the U.S.,” Jain says. “We look forward to having a professional team in Texas for the passionate local cricket community to root for and to introduce the sport to new fans across the country.”

Jain, a partner with Perot Jain and chairman of Access Healthcare; and Ross Perot Jr., chairman of the Perot Group, were among the cricket enthusiasts and investors in a $44 million funding round that will help MLC build facilities across the country.

The MLC inaugural season begins July 13, 2023 at the first professional cricket stadium in the U.S., Grand Prairie Stadium, in Grand Prairie.

The 2023 season will feature 19 matches to be played over 18 days, building up to the first MLC championship final to take place on July 30. The stadium will have a permanent capacity of 7,200 and will feature 1,000 club and premium seats, with the ability to expand to a capacity of over 15,000 for major events, including matches at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in 2024, to be co-hosted by the United States and the West Indies.