Tiffany Derry's Most Memorable Food Moments Of 2023

Celebrity chef Tiffany Derry has shaken up the food scene ever since her debut as a contestant on "Top Chef: D.C." After continuing her culinary journey on shows like Food Network's "Cutthroat Kitchen," the ambitious star opened her third restaurant, Roots Chicken Shak, in Plano, Texas. Derry's duck fat-fried chicken set the eatery apart from others in its class and led to the opening of an expansion, Roots Southern Table, in 2021. Her latest venture through Roots is Shef Tiffany All Purpose Creole Seasoning, a spice blend that allows fans to enjoy some of Derry's favorite flavors at home.

It's been a busy few years for Derry, but she still manages to find time to slow down and discover new dishes. Tasting Table caught up with the "Top Chef" alum following her appearance at the first Honeyland Festival in Sugar Land, Texas, where she enjoyed some of her most memorable culinary experiences of the past year. The food and music fest, sponsored by Pepsi Dig In, highlighted Black-owned food and beverage brands, from Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls to Sienna Sauce and Wings. "I think I ate almost everything I could," Derry recalled to Tasting Table. Ahead, we'll review all of her top food picks of 2023, from takeout favorites to fine dining recommendations.

Derry dishes on her favorites in and around Houston, Texas

The 2023 Honeyland Festival featured a dizzying number of options for foodies. Some vendors were local while others came from out of town, and Tiffany Derry made sure to sample as many of their menus as she could. So, which dishes earned her ultimate seal of approval? "The gumbo [from Gumbo Xpress] was delicious. I also enjoyed the oxtail empanada [from Lady G Empanadas] and [Trill Burgers]. That burger was everything coming off that grill." To end on a sweet note, Derry urged us to try another fan-favorite at the festival. "[Cranky Granny's] cinnamon rolls — the original cinnamon roll and the peach — were both delicious," she says. We later learned that several of the chef's top choices, including Trill Burgers and Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls, were such a hit with Honeyland attendees that they sold out by the end of the day.

Outside of Honeyland, Derry was eager to share some of her favorite Houston, Texas restaurants with Tasting Table. As a Texas native, "I don't leave Houston without going to the Breakfast Klub. That is my spot. In fact, I took quite a few chefs and friends when we were there," Derry says. As its name implies, the Breakfast Klub specializes in breakfast fare, though Derry tells us her go-to order at the eatery is fried pork chops and grits. Otherwise, the Texas native enjoys dining at Davis Street or stopping for a meal at home with family.

The most memorable meals for Derry in 2023

When asked about her most memorable meal of 2023, Tiffany Derry mentioned a fellow "Top Chef" alum's menu. "Angelo Sosa opened this restaurant called Tia Carmen [in Phoenix, Arizona.] Angelo has always been an excellent cook, but oh, my God," she raved. "The cocktails were amazing, and the aesthetics of the restaurant were just gorgeous. The food told a story; it was mind-blowing." Derry recommends several dishes at Tia Carmen, like the Tuna Crudo, served with a corn coconut broth, and the "Taco Night" Tostada, which features beef and bone marrow alongside fresh guacamole. Still, she says that no matter what you order, you'll walk away pleased. "It was just excellently executed," says Derry.

As far as her favorite flavors to use at home, Derry provided us with two picks. The first? "Chili crunch or chili oil is everyone's jam, but rightfully so. It just gives so much flavor and so much texture to dishes," she tells Tasting Table. According to Derry, one of her favorite ways to use chili crisp is over a fried egg, served atop avocado toast. Lastly, Derry makes it a point to give a certain citrus fruit some love. "Lime [is] the perfect acid, the perfect fruit. The bitterness is not there that you often get with lemon, especially as it sits. The zest itself is just so fragrant," Derry says. Given the choice between lemon or lime, Derry tells Tasting Table she's decidedly team lime.