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Chef Jose Vela Leaves Mockingbird Bistro

Chef Jose Vela
Chef Jose Vela
Photo: Mai Pham/Houston Press

After 20 years of working at John Sheely's restaurants, beginning with now-defunct Riviera Grill and most recently leading the kitchen at Mockingbird Bistro, chef Jose Vela is heading to another familiar restaurateur's kitchen. He said that after leaving Mockingbird Bistro last Saturday, offers immediately started coming in, "I left on Saturday and the same day I got three offers, and one was from Tony Vallone." Vela will begin training with Tony's chef de cuisine Kate McLean before taking on the position of general manager at Tony's catering company. He admits that he's not sure what impact he'll have on the menu there, but he's excited to join that prestigious brand. Vela tells Eater, "I was very surprised they called, I'd never worked with [Vallone] before."

The chef who once had aspirations of becoming a rock star says he's grateful for his time with Sheely--who is busy with his most recent venture, Osteria Mazzantini in the Galleria area. "From [Sheely] I learned how to work hard and to make sure that the people are taken care of. I left on good terms, but I have too many years working there, and it was time to move on." Plus, he's trying to gain experience in different kitchens for some upcoming plans, "In the future I do want to open my own restaurant, so I'm trying to get as much experience as I can with Tony's."
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