Photo by Phaedra Cook Chef Erin Smith of Main Kitchen at the brand-new JW Marriott hotel in downtown Houston
Erin Smith is one of only a handful of female executive chefs in Houston. She first caught attention for the menu that was tailored for the extensive wine focus at Plonk! Bistro. She made headlines when she joined Clumsy Butcher group to conceptualize the initial menu for the newly opened Blacksmith coffee shop, then went on to revamp the menus at Anvil and The Hay Merchant.
Now she's in charge of a much bigger beast: the kitchen operations for the new and sophisticated JW Marriott hotel that just opened downtown. This includes the restaurant Main Kitchen, room service, banquets and the numerous other special events and meetings that happen every day in a luxury hotel.
In Part 1 of our interview, Smith discusses her surprising initial focus during college and why she instead turned to cooking. You'll also learn about how native Houstonian Smith earned her stripes at some of New York's top restaurants before returning home to head up Plonk! Bistro.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 where Smith discusses her food focus at Main Kitchen, as well as how she manages to pull off running a large hotel food operation.
EOW: Are you from Houston?
ES: I am from Houston. I grew up here, moved away for college, was gone for 10 years and came back in 2010.
EOW: Where did you go to college?
ES: Texas Tech. Get your guns up! (makes finger guns) I love doing that because we've got a lot of Longhorns here so there's this fierce rivalry thing happening.