When Haven, Houston's first green-certified restaurant closed last summer, chef Randy Evans was considering space for a new restaurant concept when requests for consulting came pouring in and soon, Southern Son Consulting was born and Evans never looked back.
Post Haven, Evan's projects include the just-opened Local Pour in The Woodlands and Ocean Grille in Galveston, James Coney Island, 44 Farms Beef and of course, Table 57 inside of the new H-E-B on San Felipe where his efforts have been happily received. As of August 1, Evans will begin a new chapter in his life.
Evans will take on the role of Director/Chef of Restaurants, working exclusively for H-E-B from their corporate office in San Antonio, directing efforts for the company's initiative to place restaurants within select H-E-B stores. One of Houston's most beloved chefs will move with his wife and daughters to Boerne, Texas, which is a short commute to H-E-B's headquarters.
"I really couldn't be more excited about this opportunity with HEB," says Evans. "H-E-B's commitment to all things culinary - at the corporate level, working with Texas agricultural partners and especially with planning and opening these new restaurants. We have a shared philosophy and mutual respect in areas that I'm passionate about. There is an incredible team approach. I couldn't ask for more and it's also an incredible opportunity for my family to live a slower pace in the hill country."
Evans, who celebrated his 40th birthday over the weekend, grew up in Willis, Texas about an hour north of Houston. He fell in love with local/seasonal fare via the food the local farmers grew and that his mother lovingly prepared. After leaving medical studies at Baylor to pursue his culinary career, he graduated from The Art Institute of Houston's Culinary Arts Program.
Evans worked his way through every rank in the kitchen to become Executive Chef at Brennan's for eight years, where he also authored the award-winning cookbook, The Kitchen Table (Bright Sky Press, November 2006) prior to opening Haven in 2009. The restaurant received numerous accolades including, "The 20 Best New Restaurants in the Nation" by Esquire, "Second Best New Restaurant in Texas" by Texas Monthly and Southern Living's "5 Best New Restaurants in the South". Fortunately, his stellar shrimp corn dogs and spicy Tabasco Remoulade remain in the form of a menu item at the just-opened Ocean Grill in Galveston and you can also have flashbacks to Haven's cuisine via many items - including the shrimp and grits - within the new Table 57.
Evan's biology studies and a passion for food chemistry serve him well. Those who have enjoyed conversations about food with him soon learn that few know more about Texas' vast wealth of ingredients and flavors including their geography, cultural history and the wide array of boatmen, farmers, ranchers and purveyors who contribute to his deep passion and inspiration for creating his take on "Modern Texas Cuisine". Evans is a spokesman and consultant for the Texas Department of Agriculture's Shrimp Marketing Board and Texas Department of Forestry and Horticulture and The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition.
Considered a mentor to many and highly regarded by his colleagues, chefs like Kevin Naderi who started with Evans at Brennan's and served at his side as Evans opened Haven. Said Naderi, "There's no one I've worked for who has taught me more about the pride that goes into our craft. Randy was always a mentor, a friend, and a skilled chef but more than that, he always taught me that if you start with crap, you'll end up serving crap. He still influences me every day."
Evans is also known for his commitment to philanthropic causes including Recipe for Success, Urban Harvest, The Beacon, NoKidHungry.org and Texas Foodways. He will participate in what is likely his last local charity event representing James Coney Island via a "hot dog throwdown" competition against ten other chefs on April 26 benefiting Lucky Dog Rescue. He will continue to work with existing clients and perhaps a "Texas Dancehall" project if comes together soon enough. It looks like Houston's loss is the state's gain.