Weeks after his James Beard Best Chef: Southwest nomination, Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd has yet another accolade to add to his long list of recognitions. The Houston chef has been nominated as one of the ten “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine.
Aquiles Chaves, Mexico’s Anthony Bourdain, woos Houstonians with his contemporary Mexican seafood in an arrestingly colorful cottage setting (which is not enhanced by hard wooden furniture). We grazed our way through crunchy mini-tostadas (topped with yellowfin tuna, avocado, and frizzles of fried leeks), which outdid an entrée of red snapper pibil-style atop mashed sweet potatoes. Expect culinary surprises and upscale prices.
When our inner carnivore calls, we head to this acclaimed nose-to-tail eatery, in a cozy old bungalow. We cleaned our plate of succulent braised pork cheeks, perfect with buttery potatoes. Somewhat lighter was a perfect chicken en papillotte with fennel, red potatoes, and sweet peppers.
Bryce Gilmore, of Barley Swine, in Austin, and Chris Shepherd, of Underbelly in Houston, were among the eight Texas chefs, writers, and restaurants nominated for a James Beard Award, the highest honor given in the food world. Garden and Gun magazine recently caught up with the two chefs to ask them how they celebrated the news:
Oxheart, Justin Yu’s 31-seat Houston restaurant, has received an immense amount of praise since opening in March of last year. Bon Appétit, GQ, Texas Monthly, and numerous media outlets have dubbed the vegetable-centric restaurant one of the best in the nation. Naturally when the James Beard Foundation announced its semifinalists for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards, it came as no real shock that both Justin Yu and Oxheart were honored as semifinalists.
12 large free range or farm eggs
4 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped maitake mushrooms (about ½ pound), or any mushrooms of your choice
1/4 cup port wine
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cups truffle oil
2 cups dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup almond meal
2 cups soy sauce
2 cups Mirin
2 ounces kombu
2 ounes bonito
1 ounces truffle shavings
Last Tuesday, the James Beard Foundation announced its list of semifinalists for the 2013 James Beard Awards, a yearly awards ceremony that honors outstanding restaurants, bars, restaurateurs, chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, sommeliers, and food journalists across the nation.
I don’t usually respond to email invitations from people I don’t know, but the invite from Judy Robinson, who runs one of Houston’s A-list estate sale companies, was hard to resist: “Estate Sale from the Houston Residence of the late Mildred Yount Manion II, Heiress from an Important Texas Oil Family and Kentucky’s Famous Spindletop Horse Farm.”
For a city that sits so near to the coast, Houston is often criticized for lacking in contemporary seafood establishments. Famed chefs like Bryan Caswell of Reef have attempted to bring more Gulf-friendly cuisine to the city, but it’s Jean-Philippe Gaston that’s turning meat-and-potatoes purists into raw gourmands.