Photo courtesy of Hometown Chef/Burger Showdown

Ten San Antonio-area chefs plan to put their burger-making skills to the test in an October 14 event designed to benefit the San Antonio Food Bank.

Hometown Chef, a local online culinary series, will host the annual burger competition, Burger Showdown 3.0, at Alamo Beer Co. The event will take place 6-9 pm with VIPs being welcomed at 5:30 pm.

According to a news release, the outdoor event will position the competing chefs beneath the historic Hays Street bridge, and attendees get to vote for their favorite burger.

The first-place winner will be awarded a cash prize, along with a trophy. Second- and third-place winners will also receive a trophy.

"This is my absolute favorite event of all time. These chefs are phenomenal, and the battle is real - everyone wants to throw down the most badass burger, and if you're going to find one in San Antonio, it will be on this night!" says Homegrown Chef co-creator and food writer Kimberly Suta.

Suta also says Burger Showdown 3.0 helps to emphasize the benefits of locally sourced ingredients and traditional cooking methods.

"Additionally, I just want to say that we're really proud to promote, in small part, the slow food movement and the fantastic local ranchers that we have and are working with, such as Pure Pastures, Behind the Oak Farm and Peaceful Pork. Sustainable, healthy food raised by compassionate people is more important now than ever," she says.

Here are their participating chefs and their planned burgers, with descriptions provided by the event.

Chef Diana Anderson, JD's Chili Parlor: The Hostage Burger
A burger patty made with their signature five-pepper chili paste, topped with aged Wisconsin "jeddah," an all-beef hot dog, grass-fed pecan-smoked whiskey chili, Mexican cheeses, red onions, fried jalapeños, “chilified” aioli, and romaine lettuce; served on a homemade chili seed bun.

Chef Angelo Gordon of Jamaica Jamaica Cuisine: Reggae Burger
Made with seasoned ground beef, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, pickled cabbage, and jerk aioli on a brioche bun.

Chef Louis Halaszyn of Cream Kitchen and Bar: The Westslider
Chorizo-marinated beef patty with smoked cheddar cheese sauce, sour pickle relish, shredded red and green leaf lettuce, and toasted hot Cheetos aioli on a Kaiser bun.

Chef Geronimo Lopez of Botika: BBC (Botika Burger Cartelua)
House-made patty cooked with Spanish chorizo, Chihuahua cheese, crispy onions, shoestring potatoes, and chimichurri on a sourdough bun.

Chef Joseph Thadeus Martinez of Tributary Modern Texas Cuisine: Elote Burger
A Dean and Peeler smash patty, Oaxaca cheese whiz, street corn relish, chicharrón corn nut crunch, and cilantro lime aioli on a potato bun.

Chef John O'Larnic of Chef's Backyard: Chef's Backyard Flavor Formula Popper Burger
Cheeseburger made with bacon, American cheese, cream cheese, fresh jalapeños, and Chef's Backyard Flavor rub.

Chef John Munoz of Smokies by Chef John: The Smoked Out Burger
Grass-fed ground beef, smoked gouda and chili peppers, layered with house-smoked brisket and sausage, topped with onion strings, and finished with a house-made barbecue sauce.

Chef James Richard Smithof toohotfortabc: The Marfa Lights Burger
A green chile flat iron cheeseburger.

Chef Dave Terrazas from The Art Institute of San Antonio: The Caribbean
A sweet, spicy, and savory asadero-topped burger, featuring layers of tamarind, citrus, Allspice, gold rum, with pickled green mango, avocado aioli, and sweet and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Chef Kristina Zhao of Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar - The Dashi
Made with beef, pork belly, avocado, GGG, Sichuan peppercorn oil, tamari, and Kewpie mayo on a biscuit.

Additionally at the Burger Showdown, Ed Villarreal, host chef of Homegrown Chef will make french fries, and Stone Oak bakery Texas Cookie Shop will providing cookies for dessert.

General admission tickets of $50 per person does not include drinks, but beverages can be purchased via Alamo Beer. VIP admission includes one drink ticket and the aforementioned early admission.

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Online home searching platform Compass buys top San Antonio-based brokerage

real estate news

National residential real estate agency Compass has acquired Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio, in a move that will expand its position as the leading national firm and its growth in Texas by more than 600 agents.

Although the sale price was not disclosed in Compass' announcement, the local brokerages completed $5.24 billion sales just in 2022 alone.

Compass added that the Austin and San Antonio leadership will have direct oversight of daily operations as part of the terms of the acquisition. Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio co-founder Yvette Flores maintains that she and her leadership team will strive for a "seamless transition" into the national firm that respects the home-grown culture they have created.

Realty Austin was founded in 2004 by Flores and Jonathan Boatwright, and has grown through the years to become one of the most innovative brokerages in Central Texas and beyond. The company expanded its operations to San Antonio in 2021.

Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio CEO Gabe Richter said in the release that Compass' leading-edge technology will help his agents foster greater successes, particularly in one blossoming San Antonio category: luxury real estate.

"Our agents have consistently set records with remarkable achievements," Richter said in the release. "Now, by aligning with Compass, they gain access to a transformative technology platform that enhances efficiency and elevated resources that empower them to secure even more luxury listings."

Compass was founded in 2012 as the largest real estate brokerage in the U.S., and preserves its stronghold as the No. 1 brokerage in Texas thanks to its milestone acquisition. The national brokerage has already surpassed $10 billion in sales in Texas in 2023, according to the release.

“With this acquisition, we've positioned ourselves as Austin's leading brokerage — our commitment to setting new standards and inspiring innovation for all our exceptional agents remains the top priority while honoring what Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio has built," said Compass Texas President Rachel Hocevar.

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.

Nola breaks new ground and a Hill Country eatery heads to City Hall in San Antonio food news


Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our weekly roundup of essential food news.


The long lines at Nola Brunch & Beignets may soon double. According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Records, the brunch behemoth is opening a location at 1101 Broadway. The restaurant did not return a request for comment by publication time, but Nola executive chef Melissa Villanueva is listed as the tenant. It's unclear if this is a relocation or a second outpost, but the project is set to wrap up in March 2024. CultureMap will update as we hear more information.

New Braunfels will have a new dining destination when an ambitious redevelopment is completed. According to state filings, Wiggins Hospitality Group — the folks behind McAdoo's Seafood Co. — will renovate the town's former City Hall into a mixed-use building incorporating offices on the ground floor. New Braunfels Historic Landmark Commission records give more details about the unnamed eatery, including plans for a bar and courtyard. Construction is set to wrap up in May 2024.

Other news and notes

San Antonio standout The Jerk Shack will be featured in a new book from national food site Eater. The restaurant — an Eater darling since being named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Hillary Dixler Canavan in 2029 — appropriately contributed a chicken dish.

Favor gave some insight into San Antonio's ordering habits via its first-ever dining report, released September 19. Alamo City requested more orders for barbecue than any other city in the state but surprisingly fell behind Austin in overall taco orders. The delivery app also shared a few tidbits about how San Antonians customize their meals. Locals favor lean brisket, flour tortillas, chorizo, and — controversially — chili with beans. Read all the findings at favordelivery.com.

Not content at only being a Food Network personality, chef Braunda Smith is now set to break the internet. The owner of Lucy Cooper's Ice House will soon be featured on the popular web series America's Best Restaurants. The restaurant confirmed the filming via a Facebook post but did not share when the segment will be aired.