Food & Wine magazine has named Underbelly chef/owner Chris Shepherd as one of this year's 10 Best New Chefs. The highly coveted awards are presented annually to chefs who have operated their own restaurants for fewer than five years. Shepherd is the first Houston chef to earn the nod since Reef's Bryan Caswell in 2009 and the first Texas chef since Bryce Gilmore of Austin's Barley Swine in 2011.
The awards continues the trend of praise that critics have lavished upon Underbelly since it opened last year. Chronicle critic Alison Cook named it the sixth best restaurant in Houston and later awarded the restaurant four stars in a James Beard Award-nominated review. Esquire's John Mariani named Underbelly one of 2012's Best New Restaurants. Shepherd is currently a James Beard Award finalist in the Best Chef Southwest category.
Finally, the award captures the way that Shepherd has become a representative of the city itself. He's among the chefs featured in the Houston Convention and Visitors' Bureau's Houston is Tasty campaign. He hosted Bizarre Foods's Andrew Zimmern at a Texans tailgate prior to tossing the coin. Most Saturdays he can be found roaming the Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers' Market buying produce and hugging, well, everyone.
· Underbelly Houston [Official Site]
· Food & Wine Announces Best New Chefs 2013 [-EN-]
· Why Underbelly is Essential to Houston [29-95]
· All Awards Season Coverage on Eater Houston [-EHOU-]
· All Chris Shepherd Coverage on Eater Houston [-EHOU-]
· All Underbelly Coverage on Eater Houston [-EHOU-]
Chris Shepherd [Julie Soefer via Underbelly/flickr]