A Texas chef has just been named best chef in the world by the Los Angeles–based luxury lifestyle magazine the Robb Report.
Chris Shepherd, chef-owner of three influential restaurants in Houston, was surprised when he first heard the news on Wednesday. He and his fiancée, public relations agent Lindsey Brown, were in assorted airports coming back to H-town from a trip to Paris. “I got a text message from a friend saying, ‘Congratulations!’” Shepherd said. “I texted back, ‘What for?’ He sent a picture of the cover of the Robb Report. When I found an actual copy of the magazine and saw what the award was for, my first reaction was, ‘Whaaaat???’”
Asked if he knew the Robb Report had been in town to check him out, Shepherd said no. “I talked to their writer, Jeremy Repanich, but I thought he was probably here to interview Tilman, honestly,” referring to well-known Houston entrepreneur Tilman Fertitta. The chef’s final takeaway was, “If the publicity brings more people to Houston, fantastic!”
Shepherd—and Houston—are in good company. The nine restaurants singled out by the tony magazine include Noma, in Copenhagen (best dish: vegetarian shawarma); Atomix, in New York City (best new restaurant); Mil, outside the city of Cusco in Peru (best destination restaurant); Brat, in London (best new restaurant in Europe); and Aulis, in Hong Kong (best new restaurant in Asia).
Shepherd has received a lot of acclaim over the years, including winning a James Beard Award. Last year was a particularly good one for the chef; his trio of new restaurants—Georgia James, One Fifth Mediterranean, and UB Preserv—garnered the number one spot on our list of the state’s best new restaurants.
The Robb Report list of restaurant winners—which is part of its 31st annual “best-of-the-best” awards—was compiled by writers Repanich, Mary Holland, and Chris Dwyer and released on June 5. In the write-up, the publication cited Shepherd’s “devotion to Houston’s cultural melting pot, and concluded, “Considering the delicious, creative food he serves and the scale of his ambition, you won’t find a better chef around right now.”