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Chef Chris Shepherd Actually Doesn’t Have COVID-19 [Updated]

After announcing the diagnosis on Instagram, Shepherd was informed that his diagnosis was a “rare false positive”

A man in galoshes stands on a pedestrian bridge
Chris Shepherd of Underbelly has contracted COVID-19
Steve Harris Photo

Acclaimed Houston chef and head of Underbelly Hospitality Chris Shepherd tested positive for COVID-19. The chef posted about the diagnosis on his Instagram account Thursday afternoon, saying that he was asymptomatic and planning to quarantine for 10 days.

According to the post, Shepherd had an out of state cooking commitment last week for which he traveled by plane. As a precaution, he was tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, October 13, after returning to Houston. The test came back positive. “The few staff members who were in close contact with me on Tuesday when I returned home have been tested with negative results. The chefs I cooked with on the trip and my fiancé have all tested negative as well,” he wrote.

A few days later, Shepherd clarified that his first test was a “rare” false positive, and that he hadn’t actually contracted COVID-19. The chef has since received two negative tests. “I’m still feeling great, and I’m so thankful this turned out the way it did” Shepherd wrote in a follow-up on Instagram. “I’m grateful to all the medical professionals who are working so hard to take care of us.

Underbelly’s restaurants, which include Georgia James Steakhouse, UB Preserv, Hay Merchant, One Fifth Houston, and Blacksmith Coffee, remain open at 50% capacity. It’s worth noting that Shepherd has been busy during the quarantine advocating for out of work food and beverage employees through his Southern Smoke Foundation, which provides mental health services, emergency relief funds and other programs for food service workers. Last month, Southern Smoke hit a milestone of more than $5 million in donations since its founding in 2017.

Update, October 19: This post has been updated to include Shepherd’s announcement that his test was a false positive.

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