Creepy Cuisine raises money for Houston cause

By Owen Conflenti - Anchor

HOUSTON - Insects are invading Houston restaurants and they're actually supposed to be on the menu.

At Boheme Cafe and Wine Bar in Montrose, chef Rishi Singh is cooking up something unique.

"It's a goshushon, which has a Korean barbecue sauce as the base, and on top of that just a tiny amount of cheese and cilantro," Singh said. "What I really wanted to sing is the worms."

That's right, the pizza is topped with silk worms. There are other pizzas with crickets - also known as chapulines.

"I don't think that we should treat these sorts of items as novelty here," said Singh. "I think they should be considered like serious cooking ingredients and that's something definitely I've been trying to focus upon."

Singh is one of a handful of chefs in the Houston area using insects as a featured ingredient in some dishes. Free Press Houston food critic Dutch Small has watched the trend grow.

"The bugs are delicious for one thing," Small said. "I have to tell you, it's not really a novelty thing. It's more of a serious culinary investigation."

That culinary investigation was on display recently for a charity event benefiting the The Community Cloth, an organization that helps refugee women adjust to their new lives in Houston by using their natural talents and abilities.

"These women are amazing artisans," said Roxanne Paiva, executive director of The Community Cloth. "They already know how to weave. They already know how to knit and crochet and make jewelry. And so what we did is we created a program for them to earn supplemental income while recreating a new community here in Houston."

The women come from places like Burma, Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those are all areas where insects find their way to the dinner table as a main source of protein. That was the draw for foodies looking to explore those culinary traditions, while supporting a cause that brings all it all together.

"Sometimes this is the first time that the women have earned income for their family so they're able to provide something for their family," Paiva said. "And to watch the confidence level changes in that woman is a fun process."

It's a process that takes the entire community to make a success.

If you'd like to get involved, The Community Cloth always has room for people who want to host parties at their homes. It allows supporters to invite friends and family to meet the artisans, learn about their stories and see some of their amazing work. There are also volunteer opportunities available.

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