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.
View this post on Instagram
Last weekend, I kept a prior commitment to cook out of state and traveled by plane for the first time since March. As a precaution, I got tested for COVID-19 when I returned home on Tuesday morning and tested positive. I’m thankful to have no symptoms, and I’m feeling fine. I have also tested for antibodies and didn’t have any, which shows it’s a new infection that likely occurred on the trip. I have been extremely diligent in wearing a mask, remaining socially distant from staff and guests and not working service in the restaurants. 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 @htownlindseybrown have all tested negative as well. I will quarantine at home for the next 10 days. All of our restaurants remain at 50 percent capacity--we chose not to increase to 75 percent in order to maintain six feet in between tables. Everyone at Underbelly Hospitality remains diligent about wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and maintaining the safest environment for staff and guests. We love you all. Thank you for the support. Please stay safe.
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.
- Southern Smoke Foundation Has Given Out More Than $5 Million in Donations to Restaurant Industry Workers [EHOU]
Update, October 19: This post has been updated to include Shepherd’s announcement that his test was a false positive.