Meet Houston's Most Underrated Chefs

Categories: Chef Chat

VOICE - Tai Snapper Ceviche-thumb-560x462.jpg
Photo by Matthew Dresden
Which "underrated" chef made this beautiful tai ceviche?
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.

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.

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Shiva Patel
8. Shiva Patel

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.


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27 comments
Feldman
Feldman

Great write up, great chefs. 

Erin
Erin

We love, love, love Danton Nix!  

Jhangten
Jhangten

should look at all  the over rated chefs that get alot of press!

Joanne
Joanne

So glad diet is over and I will be returning to Houston, looks like I have a bit of catching up to get ahead of the  eight ball again. Thanks Catherine for a wonderful article.

Alex11bouchard
Alex11bouchard

Brandon is an awesome cook and Yelapa is a great restaurant! 9 out of 10... friendly staff, great ambiance, and excellent menu. 

Tim
Tim

Is Chef Schuster of Charivari underrated?  It seemed for a little while like they were getting more mentions and then they seemed to fade back to 'hidden gem' status.  In any case, the food there is wonderful.

Brandon Fisch
Brandon Fisch

I reallly wish i would have had on my Yankees hat in that picture :) lol  

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Katharine, you work FAST! This is a great list! Like Teddy Roosevelt said, "speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." All these chefs are letting their work speak for themselves...

memory chip
memory chip

the two guys running the kitchen at V&A – yes, it's a fertitta restaurant, but they know how to go off the menu and can be a lot more creative than you might imagine in this environment. not to mention tons of experience

LennieAmbrose
LennieAmbrose

I'd throw Scott Castell from Brenner's in there as well. Of course I'm biased, but nobody else in the city is as in tune to beer and food pairings as Chef Scott. 

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

Great piece, Katharine! You've shined a spotlight on some very deserving individuals here.

bradbarber
bradbarber

Nice article. Lots of talent out there to delight us.

DS
DS

What about Grant Gordon at Tony's?

trisch
trisch

We had a delicious meal at TQLA a couple of weeks ago. We didn't expect much at all going in, and were very surprised at how good everything tasted. Unfortunately, service sucked so badly we probably won't bother to go back for awhile.

Kevin Shalin
Kevin Shalin

Great list...I am a big fan of Cesar Rodriguez.  Also, I had heavy apps at Yelapa the other night, spectacular!

Joanne
Joanne

WHo is this Cahterine? I meant to type Katherine :$.

Denise
Denise

Support local. I have an Astros hat you can borrow :-)

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Carlos Rodriguez and Michael O'Connor are indeed amazing, although I'd argue that neither of them are underrated.

Mern721
Mern721

I second that nomination! We went to Brasserie 19 last night and were saddened to find out he was gone ......

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

This is where I'm hoping our readers, like you, will chime in with their choices. And I think that's a great choice...although is anyone who's made it to the exec chef position at Tony's really underrated?  ;)

Scott Lindsey
Scott Lindsey

Trish thank you for your comments. I am happy to hear you enjoyed the food but am disappointed that our service did not meet your expectations. We really work hard to insure all of our customers get great service. I would love to hear from you and get some more details from you so we can look into this further and correct any issues. We really appreciate feedback from our guests as we strive to make sure you always have a great time when you come to visit us.  Please give me a call at your convenience and ask for Scott @ 281-501-3237. I am the managing partner and general manager.  Thanks again for the feedback.

David Sawyer
David Sawyer

I think the fact that Grant is 25 years old and exec chef at one of Houston's most well-known restaurants should translate into him being one of the city's most well-known. I've been surprised that it hasn't occurred. Few chefs in Houston possess the experience or talent that he has. 

trisch
trisch

Yeah, it's too bad. Don't know if our server was a trainee or just having a day from hell. A manager even apologized at one point. It was just really uncomfortable.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Ay yi yi! I meant John Moore. Too much going on today to keep my head on straight. Thanks.

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