01 Mar Ofer Eitan Suggest: Chris Shepherd’s Secret Sources — Houston’s Champion Chef R…
With four wildly successful restaurants in his hospitality stable, chef Chris Shepherd has been winning plaudits almost since the early days of Underbelly, which he launched in 2012. That year, he was named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine. Two years later, a James Beard honor — Best Chef: Southwest — was added to the accolades. And on and on.
Last year, the Robb Report anointed him as the best chef in the world. In September, he published his first cookbook, Cook Like a Local. With all that going for him, Shepherd is sure to have some impressive resources for his restaurants — One Fifth, UB Preserve, the Hay Merchant and Georgia James.
In the hopes that the renowned chef would share all, we posed a number of questions on his sources for everything from beef to butter.
PaperCity: Where do you get your seafood? We’re particularly interested as One Fifth is currently featuring Gulf Coast fare.
Chris Shepherd: We use a lot of oysters from Alabama, including Murder Points. They’re farmed in suspended column systems which gives higher salinity during high tide. Fortunately for us in Texas, our laws have changed in the past year, so we’re able to farm oysters in a similar fashion as Alabama, so we may be buying more Texas oysters in the future. You can buy Murder Points at Airline Seafood or Blue Horizon (when in stock!).
We buy shrimp from Jimmy Evans. Without Jimmy, Gulf shrimp wouldn’t be what it is today. Jimmy doesn’t sell retail, unfortunately.
PC: What is your source for crawfish?
CS: We buy crawfish tails from Jimmy Evans. He gets fresh picked crawfish — never frozen. When we sell peel-and-eat crawfish, we buy them from Captain Fred McBride. Neither sell retail.
PC: With George James steakhouse in your stable, you must have a great source for beef.
CS: We buy our beef from 44 Farms. They don’t have a storefront but you can order online.
PC: You are famous for your Korean goat and you even cooked it on Jimmy Kimmel Live. What’s your source?
CS: Felix Flores at Black Hill Meats is our goat farmer. We use whole goat in that dish.
PC: What is your go-to for fresh vegetables, tomatoes and greens?
CS: Atkinson Farms, which is available at Urban Harvest Farmers Market. I also love Knopp Branch, which delivers to us and doesn’t sell at the farmers market anymore.
PC: You’re a fan of the Urban Harvest Farmers Market on Buffalo Speedway. Who are your favorite vendors there?
CS: Atkinson Farms, whatever is in season! Tejas Heritage for all of our poultry needs and sometimes eggs. Blue Heron Farm for goat cheese. Janice Schindler has amazing pimento cheese. And I buy pomelos and all varieties of citrus from Oscar.
PC: What is your source for caviar and truffles?
CS: Regalis. The owner Ian grew up in Houston and he sold truffles to me at Catalan when he was 15. Now he’s built an incredible business providing luxury foods.
PC: Where do you get your knives and what brand do you favor?
CS: I buy and get my knives sharpened at Coutelier in New Orleans. It’s the best knife shop. I literally just brought all my knives to New Orleans to get them all sharpened. The brand I like best for knives is Takeda.
PC: Where do you get your spices?
CS: Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte in New York. He sources the best from around the world and grounds them fresh. You can order them online.
PC: What is the source for the flowers in your restaurants?
CS: Local Flora Farm and Addy’s Flower Farm at Urban Harvest Farmers Market.
PC: You are known for your international travels and food quests. What is the most interesting item that you have picked up from your travels?
CS: Red Boat Fish Sauce! I had the pleasure of visiting the Red Boat factory in Vietnam, and everything they do is so pure — without any additives. It’s the only fish sauce I buy or use in the restaurants.
PC: You’ve just finished remodeling the home you share with fiancé Lindsey Brown. What stove did you select for the new home kitchen?
CS: It’s a Bertazzoni. Actually, all of our kitchen equipment is Bertazzoni. Beautiful, well-crafted and executes at high levels. I’m already cooking at home more now than I ever have.
PC: Your sources for:
CS: Butter? Hill Country Dairy.
Olive oil? Raineri, imported from Italy.
Breads? Breadman Baking Company.
Cheeses? Houston Dairymaids
PC: What is the source of your boundless energy?
CS: I love what I do. So it keeps me energized.