Chef Nick Fine of Houston’s Wild Oats announced Tuesday, October 25, that he will step down from his position as the culinary director of restaurant group Underbelly Hospitality on November 14, 2022, according to a release.
The chef states that he is resigning to spend more time with his family, but will remain a partner and consultant of Wild Oats and will continue to oversee the menu and direction of the restaurant. Fine, who helped open Wild Oats in February, launched the Texas-focused restaurant at the Houston Farmers Market, stating that it was his “love letter to Texas.”
Fine’s departure comes several months after James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd announced he, too, would be leaving Underbelly Hospitality, the hospitality group in which he founded. Shepherd said in written statements that he was leaving Underbelly, which owns Wild Oats, Georgia James, GJ Tavern, and Underbelly Burger, to focus on his nonprofit, Southern Smoke Foundation.
Chad Wixon, who worked as general manager of Killen’s Steakhouse in Pearland for the past 16 years, will join Wild Oats as its general manager.
Southern Smoke Festival raises more than $1 million in one weekend
Meanwhile, Shepherd’s Southern Smoke Foundation hosted its sixth Southern Smoke Festival over the weekend and raised a whopping $1.62 million in three days, according to a release. The festival, which invited chefs from all over the country for cookoff events, a party at Hermann Park, auctions, and more, helps the foundation in its efforts to provide emergency relief funding, mental health care, and support to food and beverage workers in crisis around the country.
EZ-Liquor Lounge is now open
Agricole Hospitality’s latest project and Heights hangout, EZ-Liquor Lounge, is now ready to serve ice-cold drinks. The bar, which is located at 3302 White Oak Drive, next to Coltivare, opened Monday, October 24, revealing its more detailed menu, which includes plenty of frozen, beers, and quirky drinks like a Dulce de Leche Old Fashioned and a Hillbilly Highball made with salted peanut butter bourbon, Mexican coke, and peanuts. The bar also features plenty of bar food, including chili pies, hot dogs, and a pimento cheese dip with hot pickled okra.