Acting on a report from a tipster, Eater Houston has learned that Hay Merchant executive chef Antoine Ware will leave the craft beer bar at the end of the month. While Ware has yet to comment, Underbelly chef/owner Chris Shepherd confirmed Ware's departure. Shepherd praised the chef who has worked with him for over seven years at Catalan and Hay Merchant. "I appreciate everything he's done for me," Shepherd said and added, "he's like my brother." While Shepherd said that Ware has yet to decide what he wants to do next, he emphasized that Ware has the "training, mentality, desire and ethics" to succeed in any kitchen.
As for Hay Merchant, Shepherd will collaborate with Underbelly sous chefs Ryan Lachaine and Lyle Bento and Anvil consulting chef Erin Smith on a few tweaks to the menu, including the possible addition of a chicken fried steak. Shepherd emphasized that the overall quality of Hay Merchant's food will remain high, and that Hay Merchant will continue to utilize ingredients in conjunction with Underbelly. In other words, the crispy pig ears are safe.
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Antoine Ware [Photo by Julie Soefer via Hay Merchant/flickr]