Remembering Chef Grant Gordon's Life in Food
Anyone who knew chef Grant Gordon, whether it was through a restaurant, eating his food or being his personal friend, knew what an incredible person he was and that he was a truly skilled chef. Gordon established a name for himself in Houston as one of the most talented chefs under 30. He received a number of accolades, awards and recognition from various publications and organizations, including the James Beard Foundation.
Photo by Mai Pham Chef Grant Gordon
Gordon was a native Houstonian who graduated from Memorial High School. Kevin Naderi, chef and owner of Roost and Lillo & Ella, actually grew up with Gordon. They started kindergarten together, but it wasn't until high school that Naderi discovered that Gordon, like himself, wanted to become a chef.
"It was cool to find out that he loved to cook because there wasn't anybody else I really knew in my grade that was wanting to be a chef," Naderi says. "So we clicked more over that which was pretty cool. We always kept in touch since then."
During their senior year, Gordon worked at Rickshaw, a sushi bar in River Oaks, and Naderi worked at the Double Tree Post Oak. Naderi says they always jokingly bragged about their jobs and their future successful careers. Both attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York, but Gordon stayed to finish the program, while Naderi came home to Houston to enroll at the Art Institute.
"I would keep in touch with him on social media and whatnot and we would talk when he was in town and I knew he was doing great," Naderi says. "Funny enough I was the one who was worried about myself landing a good job, but I knew that he was going to crush it wherever he went."
Photo by Mai Pham Matt Marcus (left), Kevin Naderi (center) and Grant Gordon (right) were all friends in the Houston culinary community.
At age 20, Gordon worked at the restaurant Zoot in Austin. He told Mai Pham in a 2011 Chef Chat, "Zoot was progressive American. I was there one-and-a-half years. It was cool. After that, I really wanted to work on my resume, so I moved to New York. For a year I worked at Café Boulud in New York, which was the best experience I had as a cook. I was by far the youngest. I was in the right place at the right time, so I was able to move up quickly."
Gordon progressed through the industry at a rapid pace. He left New York for Dallas before finding himself working the line at two-starred Michelin restaurant Cyrus in Healdsburg, California. At Cyrus, Gordon served as the chef de partie and worked his way up to lead line cook where he was re-acquainted with fellow Houstonian Matt Marcus, owner and chef of Eatsie Boys. The two had met in 2006.
"Fortune had it that a couple years later, I applied for a job in California," Marcus says. "Little did I know that Grant was already in that kitchen and I show up and I hear that there's another Jewish guy from Houston in the kitchen and I was like,'Wow that's really weird,' and it turns out it was this kid that I talked to years ago about going to [the culinary institute]."
2307 Ella Boulevard, Houston, TX
2810 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX
4100 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX
1706 Westheimer, Houston, TX
3755 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX
800 Gessner, Houston, TX
1834 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX
1834 Westheimer, Houston, TX