Chef Chat, Part 2: Brandi Key of Pappas
Eating Our Words: If you had to pick one Pappas Restaurant to recommend a friend, which one and why?
Brandi Key: Little Pappas Seafood House (Shepherd and Alabama). It's small, quaint, and a simple menu. A lot of me is on that menu. It has a different feel to it. A more focused staff allows the menu and chef to play around with flavors a little more. It's a great place to take your loved one and have a conversation. Our other restaurants can seat up to 300, so this smaller venue is a great alternative look to Pappas.
EOW: You were in culinary school in San Francisco. What brought you back to Houston?
BK: Pappas sponsored my culinary travels to a small French school in San Francisco. It was really encouraging to see the owners support me learning more and more about my career.
EOW: What do we eat at Pappas Little Seafood House?
BK: Tomato and crab salad shows off gorgeous jumbo Texas lump crab meat. Scallop Lacombe is seared jumbo scallops with brown butter, capers, almonds and crispy onions, and it's delicious.
BK: Sweet potato pecan pie. We have a bakery that makes everything fresh just for Pappas.
EOW: Where do you eat when not at work?
BK: I love ethnic food. When I eat Thai food, I go to Vieng Thai; it's really great. Jenni's Noodle House has this really good soup called Angry Udon, and that is my staple when I eat there. BB's Cajun has the Royal Street Po Boy, and it freaking rocks.
EOW: What makes Houston such a special place for food?
BK: I think the food community in Houston has really exploded in the last three years. Baristas geeking out on coffee, Bobby Heugel and Anvil geeking out on cocktails, 13 Celsius geeking out on wine. The chefs in town have really picked up their game, and I am glad to be connected to this intimate community. I respect Pappas being a large company and still being intimate with their food and wholesale choices, and I would gladly say that they are a part of the burgeoning food scene here.