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Amateur chefs, celebrities join the fun at tasty April 17 fundraiser for UTHealth School of Dentistry

UTHealth’s John Valenza, D.D.S., is entering his family’s chili recipe in the “Texas Taste Teaser.” PHOTO CREDIT, UTHealth School of Dentistry
UTHealth’s Rita Cammarata, D.D.S., and John Valenza, D.D.S., know their way around a kitchen. PHOTO CREDIT, UTHealth School of Dentistry

HOUSTON– (April 5, 2018) – Amateur chefs such as the dean of the School of Dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), John Valenza, D.D.S., will find out if those family recipes are as good as they think at a Tuesday, April 17, Texas-style culinary competition benefiting the school’s community outreach program. The program provides care to more than 10,000 underserved adults and children a year.

Valenza is one of more than a dozen professional and amateur chefs entering dishes in the school’s second “Texas Taste Teaser” fundraiser at The Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley University Life Center at 7440 Cambridge St. Attire is “Texas chic” for the  6:30 to 9:30 p.m. event.

The event’s celebrity judges include Chef Michael Cordúa of Cordúa Restaurants; Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena; NFL referee and school alum Walt Anderson, D.D.S.; and Bravo’s “Married to Medicine Houston” star Ashandra Batiste-Cumby, D.D.S.

Emcees include “Texas Tooth Lady” and alum Terri Alani, D.D.S.; Chef David Cordúa; alum and Community Outreach Director Margo Melchor, R.D.H.; Ed.D.; and alum Afshan Kaviani-Anderson, D.D.S., wife of Walt Anderson.

This is not Valenza’s first rodeo. In the last Texas Taste Teaser, Valenza and school alum Rita Cammarata, D.D.S., were recognized for their lip-smacking gumbo. This year, Valenza is entering his family’s dynamite chili recipe.

Proceeds help support the school’s annual Give Kids A Smile® program, oral health care for homeless veterans and the elderly, and the school’s two mobile dental vans, which travel throughout the Houston area.

Here is how the Texas Taste Teaser works: Participating chefs prepare and present appetizer-sized samples of their favorite creations. Ticket holders and the celebrity judges then go from table to table tasting the samples, with the judges choosing winners in a variety of categories, and ticket holders voting for the People’s Choice Award.

The event also includes a Silent Auction featuring items donated by the chefs.  

This year, the event will honor the UTHealth students, residents, faculty and staff who rushed to provide emergency oral health care for evacuees in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Reservations are $60 per person and may be made at, which is also the site to sign up as a volunteer or get more information. For questions or additional information, contact the School of Dentistry at 713-486-4028 or



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