(Mission, TX) – Did you know that one of every three bites of food you eat is produced by a pollinator?  Members of the RGV Chapter of the Texas Chefs’ Association do! That is why they celebrate the butterflies, birds and bees at the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival.

For the second straight year, these culinary artists will prepare the freshest and most flavorful foods South Texas has to offer for visitors from all over the world. Under the direction of chapter president, Santiago “Jimmy” de la Cruz, many of the outstanding and rising stars on the local restaurant scene will enjoy this opportunity to shine.

“I love to eat, play and create,” explains Chef de la Cruz, “And I get great personal satisfaction when people enjoy eating what I’ve created for them. The people who come to the festival appreciate the regional twist we put on familiar tastes, as well as the opportunity to experience exotic foods—the things they may not be introduced to at home.”

Joining de la Cruz is the Valley’s only Certified Executive Chef, Dustin Stair, Culinary Services Director with Sunshine Retirement at The Gardens of Brookridge.  A former instructor at the International Culinary Institute, Stair says the key to great food is passion.

“Many people can cook with art, skill and precision,” asserts Stair, “but passion is the secret ingredient; the one that elevates a dish or a meal, and makes it most memorable. The festival participants get that. They have their own passion, for butterflies!”

One chef’s style appeals to the festival crowd, before the first taste. Chef Anthony Alaniz is the owner of Calibri Cuisine, named for a genus of hummingbird found primarily in Central and South America. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, Alaniz and his fiancé, Candy Silva, launched their gourmet food trailer in 2009, and catering company in 2010. Since then, they’ve generated a fantastic buzz with their flair for Mexican-American delicacies that are as colorful, romantic and energetic as their bold endeavor.

Community favorites, such as Chef Robert Ravelo of Cornerstone Grill & Catering, will also be cooking at the Keynote Speaker’s Banquet, where guests may be lucky enough to sample his gourmet Tempura Lobster Tail Tacos with Black Bean hummus, topped with jicama and carrot julienne.

Finally, Chef Mark Sierra, native son and Iron Chef Champion 2013 Team Le Cordon Bleu, will be sharing signature dishes from Easton’s Eatsies of La Joya. A decorated combat veteran who has served his country and celebrity clients Jerry Jones and Nolan Ryan, Chef Sierra brings his unique blend of Classic American, French and Pacific Northwest cuisine to the fine dining table, with a dash of South Texas for spice.

Other notable chefs providing delicious eats and treats for the Texas Butterfly Festival’s three catered events are: Chef Azad Robledo from El Pastor; Chef Jeffrey Sahadi from STC; Chef Johel Diaz from Sweet & Tasty; Chef Cynthia Maldonado from Cynthia’s Chocolate Creation; Chef Jose Luis Aranda from Villa del Mar; and Chef Robert Delgado from Santa Fe Steakhouse & Cantina.

You’re invited to the Keynote Speaker’s Banquet, Monday, November 3, at Bentsen-Palm Village, featuring dinner by the RGV Chapter of the Texas Chefs’ Association, and keynote speaker Sharman Apt Russell, author of An Obsession with Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair with a Singular Insect. Tickets are $50 per person, and must be purchased in advance by calling 956.583.5400.

Hosted by the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival is the nation’s premier butterflying event. It brings people from all around the world to the Rio Grande Valley, to enjoy the unique volume and variety of wild butterflies that may only be found, here. This festival features three days of paid excursions, educational sessions and expert-guided trips to  private gardens and renowned public places, including hot spots and hard-to-find places familiar to local butterfly enthusiasts.

To learn more about the 19th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival, and how you may join in the fun, check out the full schedule events, field trips and educational sessions at www.texasbutterflyfestival.com.  Online registration is closed, but space may be available for trips Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Call 956.583.5400 to inquire, today!

The National Butterfly Center is committed to ‘Growing Connections’ between people, plants, and the winged wonders that pollinate and propagate all that grows around us. We do this through educational and environmental initiatives that cultivate meaningful understanding of the processes that create sustainable ecosystems. The Center is open to the public, for visitors and members, seven days/week.

To learn more about the National Butterfly Center, and how you can join us, visit www.nationalbutterflycenter.org, or call 956.583.5400.  Your annual membership or charitable gift impacts the beauty of our community and helps preserve the biologically diverse, natural treasures of deep South Texas.