Meet Houston's Most Underrated Chefs
Two weeks ago, Mai Pham's excellent post about the modern Franco-Japanese cuisine Chef Jason Hauck is cooking up at Soma Sushi shed some light on the fact that Soma serves much more than just sushi, despite its name.
Photo by Matthew Dresden Which "underrated" chef made this beautiful tai ceviche?
It also led commenter Ryan to speak up for Houston's many wonderful chefs that often don't get as much recognition or applause for their efforts as they deserve:
...maybe this could be the basis for a good story or article? Houston's most underrated chefs as a storyline. People like Chef Hauck, who are creating such exciting and interesting food, yet fly under the radar for some reason may sometimes need a voice like yours to raise awareness of their good work. With so many restaurants in this city I guess its only natural and logical some will fly under the radar. That's where we need writers like you and good reporting from others in town who can do their part. Someone should try to expose the public to all the talent in this city that is unrecognized. This city is big enough to showcase anyone and everyone that has the chops, and it should.
Point taken, Ryan. And that's where our readers come in.
My eight personal selections for Houston's most underrated chefs is below, along with suggestions from our Twitter followers, readers and industry professionals around town.
When people think of female chefs in Houston, they think of Monica Pope, Jamie Zelko and Claire Smith. But why not the talented Shiva Patel as well? She and her partner run two of the city's most popular restaurants -- Oporto and the newer Queen Vic -- and it's at the Queen Vic where Patel's British-Indian cuisine really shines.
7. Danton Nix
The best Cajun restaurant in Houston isn't run by a Cajun. But you'd never know it if you didn't know its chef and owner, Danton Nix. Very few Cajun restaurants treat their seafood with as much respect and knowledge as Danton's does.
6. Jeremy Griffin
You wouldn't know that young Jeremy Griffin isn't French from the cooking he's doing at Bistro Provence, and a large part of that certainly has to do with its hands-on owners, Jean-Philippe and Genevieve Guy. But there's no denying the deftness and classicism of Griffin's wonderful Provençal cuisine.
5. Cesar Rodriguez
Samba Grille has gone minimal with its menu, eliminating the rodizio service and allowing all of the focus to rest solely on Chef Cesar Rodriguez's capable shoulders. It was a brilliant move that will hopefully draw even more people into the downtown steakhouse, where I recently had one of the best meals I've had all year: a pillowy piece of salmon in a tamarind glaze and buttery hunks of fresh calamari.