Perrier and Verpiand Named Master Chefs of France

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook / Mai Pham
Chefs Frédéric Perrier of Aura and Philippe Verpiand of Etoile have been named Master Chefs of France.

Three years ago almost to the day, it was announced that chef Philippe Schmit (at Philippe Restaurant + Bar at the time; currently at Drexel House) had achieved the prestigious title of Maître Cuisinier de France, or Master Chef of France.

Houston can now add two more names to that list. Yesterday it was announced that both chef Frédéric Perrier of Aura Restaurant in Sugar Land and chef Philippe Verpiand of Étoile Cuisine et Bar have also been granted that lofty status. The Houston area is, in fact, the only home in Texas to French chefs who have hit that level of achievement.

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Openings & Closings: No More Nara

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Nara's chances at West Ave were never very good.

It wasn't a big stretch to guess that the chances of Nara Sushi & Korean Kitchen at West Ave on 2800 Kirby weren't good. Its demise adds one more to the "Restaurant Death Toll" that includes Trenza, Ava and Nara's predecessor in the exact same space, Katsuya by Stark. The Korean-Japanese place lasted 14 months before succumbing to a host of issues, including a bad review from the Houston Press, a mixed review from Alison Cook at the Houston Chronicle and, worst of all, a big visibility problem that prevented passersby from seeing the restaurant from the street.

Chef-owner Donald Chang had some savvy plans to give Nara its best possible chance of survival, asking the landlord, Northwestern Mutual, for a few concessions. The specific requests were, "placing visible signage for the restaurant on Kirby Drive, giving their guests complimentary valet parking on Kipling Street, and relinquishing the private room back space in order to make the large 6,898-square-foot restaurant more manageable and profitable." Ultimately, the landlord responded with a 10-day vacate notice.

As reported earlier this week, Nara's last day is Saturday, January 31. Chang is reportedly looking for a new location to open a different concept.

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Nara Sushi & Korean Kitchen to Close This Saturday

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Mai Pham
Say goodbye to Nara's delicous dduk boki rice cakes. January 31, 2015 is their last day of service.

Right on the heels of a closure announcement by the high profile Osteria Mazzantini last week, this week, we found out that another restaurant is set to close: Donald Chang's Nara Sushi and Korean Kitchen in the West Ave complex in Upper Kirby will serve its last meal this coming Saturday evening, January 31.

The announcement, which came via press release and was first reported by Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle, attributes the closure to a disagreement with the landlord, Northwestern Mutual from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which operates the property in conjunction with Gables.

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Openings & Closings: No More False Alarms for Osteria Mazzantini

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Osteria Mazzantini has announced it's closing for the last time.

Things took a decidedly odd turn when Osteria Mazzantini at 2200 Post Oak announced last July that it was closing. Just days later, it announced it is was not closing after all. Chef John Sheely planned to sign over the space last July to chef Bruce Molzan and the Ruggles Green group for a new concept called Ruggles Kitchen. The deal fell through and Osteria Mazzantini stayed open. Amid the uncertainty, the chef Paul Lewis, bartender Kimberly Paul and sommelier Samantha Porter all got jobs elsewhere and many customers were left confused about the situation. The death knell may have already been sounded.

Well, yesterday the Houston Chronicle broke the news that Osteria Mazzantini is closed for good this time. Fans can continue to visit chef Sheely at his original place, Mockingbird Bistro, at 1985 Welch.

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Kipper Club Test Kitchen to Host Pop-Up Dinner With Guest Chef Michael Gulotta of MoPho in New Orleans

Photo, left, by Eris Walsh; Photo, right, courtesy of Michael Gulotta
Michael Gulotta of MoPho will be the guest chef at tomorrow night's Kipper Club pop-up dinner; One of the courses will be a cured tuna from his tasting menu.

Thanks to Kipper Club Test Kitchen, tomorrow evening, Houstonians will have the chance to experience the cuisine that earned Michael Gulotta's MoPho in New Orleans a nod as one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in the United States by Bon Appetit magazine.

For those not familiar with MoPho, the restaurant offers a contemporary take on Vietnamese and New Orleans cuisine. "We have a really big Vietnamese population here. New Orleans is really good at assimilating cultures -- that's what creole food is. We've taken these elements from French and African cuisine and melded it into one. My food is not creole-cajun, but it's not Vietnamese, either. It's just a new evolution of how I view food -- where I take local products and Southeast Asian influences and create things that are fun to eat," says Gulotta.

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Openings & Closings: Bye-Bye, Montrose Berryhill

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook
The landlord note on the door says "temporarily" closed, but a statement received by the Houston Chronicle says the Montrose Berryhill is gone for good.

It's yet another restaurant closing in the Montrose area, and there are no plans for resurrection. On January 14, Syd Kearney at Houston Chronicle reported that Berryhill Baja Grill at 3407 Montrose has shuttered. A statement issued by a representative of Berryhill Corporation says that particular location was ran by a franchisee and the closing doesn't have anything to do with other locations held by the company. There are eight Berryhill locations in the Houston area, including Memorial City Mall, Champions Forest and the Galleria.

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Whose Black Truffle Dish Will Reign Supreme? 20 Houston Chefs Compete in the First Annual Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge

Photos courtesy of the Truffle of the Year Challenge
Twenty Houston-area chefs are set to compete in the 1st Annual Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge this Monday, January 12, 2015.

This coming Monday, there's a one-of-a-kind event -- the first ever in Houston -- that you're not going to want to miss. Titled the Truffle Chef of the Year Challenge, the friendly competition pits 20 of Houston's best chefs against each other in a battle for the best dish featuring freshly shaved black truffles, which are prized for their earthy, sensuous aromas.

This is the first year that the event is being held. Roederer USA, an importer of truffles and the title sponsor, is donating all of the fresh black truffles for the event. The winning chef, determined by a panel of judges in a blind tasting, will receive a prize of one kilogram's worth of fresh black truffles (valued at $1,500).

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Openings & Closings: Good-bye Dua;
Hello Mala Sichuan!

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook
Dua closed on Wednesday, January 7, but the good news is that it's being replaced with a lauded restaurant from Chinatown.

The bad news: another Montrose eatery is closing. The good news: as with La Casa Del Caballo, it's being replaced by another restaurant.

Dua (1201 Westheimer) originally made a name for itself as Mo Mong, a classic Montrose hangout for Asian food and lowbrow cocktails. That was before the neighborhood became home to new, high-profile concepts, like Underbelly, Blacksmith and El Real Tex Mex. Mo Mong's name change and a menu revamp didn't help it regain its big loyal following. Culturemap Houston reported on a note found on Dua's Facebook announcing its closing on Wednesday, January 7.

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Austin-Based Chi'Lantro Food Truck Abandons Houston; May Return As a Brick-and-Mortar

Photo by Minh T Truong
Houstonians won't be seeing this food truck again--at least not for a long while.

On December 31, Mexican-Korean fusion Chi'Lantro food truck posted to its Twitter feed that it's leaving Houston in favor of running a storefront operation that opens this month in Austin. (The name is a portmanteau of "cilantro" and "kimchi," ingredients associated with Mexican and Korean food, respectively.)

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Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar & Grill" Is Apparently Not Loving Its Rent Payments

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Troy Fields
Not enough people loved it back.

KHOU has reported that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill at West Oaks Mall is locked out for nonpayment of rent. Furthermore, contractors who have done work there are claiming that they aren't getting paid, either. They say that I Love This Bar & Grill owes them more than $150,000.

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