Ben McPherson (Founder of Krisp Bird & Batter)
Chef/Proprietor of BOH Pasta. Ben has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant business with a wide range of styles. BOH Pasta is a life dream. A trip to Florence and Naples as a young teenager with his dad changed his life forever. “I will never forget this place we went outside of Florence. There was a penne pasta dish that only consisted of pasta, some melted tomatoes, fresh basil and parmesan cheese. I couldn’t stop eating it. It was crack in pasta form.” Later, Ben’s dad moved to Naples, Italy, and after as many visits to l earn as much as he could, Ben relocated to Atlanta, where he spent years cooking at some of the city’s best Italian restaurants. After a detour of cooking other cuisines, BOH has been a long time coming.
Formerly the Culinary Director at Prohibition Supper Club and Conservatory Ben launched a fast-casual restaurant concept, Krisp Bird & Batter, in 2017. Her also served as Executive Chef and helped create the concept at Batanga, a Latin American restaurant bringing a modern twist to traditional tapas.
Daniel Lee (UCHI Veteran)
Chef/Proprietor of KOKORO. Daniel has worked in kitchens since the age of 16 and further honed his skills while attending the
Culinary Arts program at Le Cordon Bleu, Los Angeles. Daniel has worked in restaurants across the country and most recently as a Sushi Chef at Uchi Houston. When he isn’t cooking, Daniel loves spending time with his wife and two shiba inus. He is also passionate about photographing images full of nature, animals and food.
Patrick Pham (UCHI Veteran)
Chef/Proprietor of KOKORO. Patrick joined the team at UCHI Houston right out of the Art Institute in 2012. After working
under his mentor Yoshinori Katsuyama for four years, Patrick achieved the title Head Sushi Chef
alongside Sushi Chef Daniel Lee. The two became best friends, finally launching their acclaimed
Secret Taste Pop-Up dinner series.
Christine Ha (3rd Season Winner of Masterchef)
Chef/Proprietor of The Blind Goat. Christine Ha is the first-ever blind contestant and season 3 winner of the competitive
amateur cooking television show MasterChef with Gordon Ramsay. She defeated over 30,000 home cooks across America to secure the coveted MasterChef title, a $250,000 cash prize, and a cookbook deal. “The lady has an extraordinary palate, a palate of incredible finesse. She picks up hot ingredients, touches them, and she thinks about this image on the plate. She has the most disciplined execution on a plate that we’ve ever seen. But the palate is where it’s just extraordinary. And honestly, I know chefs with Michelin stars that don’t have palates like hers.” – Chef Gordon
Ramsay, MasterChef judge.
Christine’s first cookbook, “Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food,” was a New York Times Best-Seller. She has been featured on NPR, the BBC, and CNN International, and travels around the globe to give keynote addresses and TEDx talks. Christine has also served as a culinary envoy overseas for the American Embassy as part of cultural diplomacy programs in Jordan, Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina and Croatia. She was a co-host on the Canadian cooking show Four Senses and a judge on MasterChef Vietnam.
In 2014, Christine received the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, a recognition formerly bestowed upon Ray Charles, Patty Duke, and Stevie Wonder among others.
Felix Florez (Owner of Black Hill Ranch)
Chef/Partner of Cherry Block Butcher + Kitchen. A native Texan, Felix joined the food industry at a young age and purchased a French/Belgian bistro at the age of 19 in Austin, TX. He moved to Houston in the early 2000’s and has since worked at several of the city’s top restaurants, including Brennan’s of Houston as a Wine Director.
Noticing that few high-quality ingredients in restaurant kitchens were produced in Texas, Felix set out to bring the expressive flavors of Texas’ grand livestock to Houston restaurants. He drove all over the nation, finding a unique selection of heritage breed hogs and decided to raise them humanely, in a free and open setting, allowing them to enjoy the land and to partake in a natural diet. As Black Hill Ranch was born, Felix’s reputation gained speed, and restaurants quickly realized the quality and expressive flavors of the meat he was offering. Felix, unknowingly, had stumbled upon the farm-to-table movement right at its inception and has helped to propel it into the spotlight in the Houston culinary community.
“Texans Feeding Texans” is a motto that is deeply rooted in all his ventures. Also a partner in local Houston restaurant Blood Bros. BBQ, Felix’s simple hope to bring the flavors of Texas to tables across our great nation.
Jessica Timmons (Previously of Landry’s, Inc. and The Redneck Country Club)
Chef/Partner of Cherry Block Butcher + Kitchen. Jess attended the Culinary Arts program at Art Institute of Houston, and her career in the restaurant industry has spanned over two decades as the former Corporate Operations Manager at Landry’s, Inc., President of The Redneck Country Club, Partner at The Caboose BBQ and Owner/Chef of Camellia Monday Consulting.
The partnership with Felix Florez of Black Hill Meats, Blood Bros BBQ and Cherry Block is one that has been a
long time coming. Jess and Felix have worked together for many years. They share a vision Texans feeding Texans
and what that can mean to our community. Jess’ cooking style is quintessentially Texan–straightforward and
honest with a big personality.
She is also a founding Member and part of the Advisory Board of Foodways Texas, which is a group that is committed to preserve and record the history and rich culture of food in Texas.Jess and her husband Johnny have two young men, Cooper and Carson, that are avid competitors on the baseball field. When you don’t find her in a restaurant, she’s likely on the bleachers somewhere along the Gulf Coast.
Richard Knight (Previously of Feast and Hunky Dory)
Chef/Proprietor of Atlas Diner. Richard grew up in a small town in southwest England. The day he graduated from culinary
school he hopped on a train to London and spent the next few years working in everything from luxury restaurants to Soho bistros throughout the city. Upon moving to Houston, Richard opened Feast, which soon became nationally and locally famous “nose-to-tail” restaurant that was said to have pushed Houston eaters into a whole new world of exciting and unusual food. Mainly using whole animals and fish, the menu was based on old traditional European recipes mixed with some modern flair and a little cheeky British humor. Richard was also the opening chef at the beloved Hunky Dory Tavern in the Heights. He and his wife Carrie are co-creators and hosts of “Show us Your Goods,” a series of short documentaries about Houston’s farms, restaurants and generally just good people doing good in the community
David Daiquiri (Veteran Bartender)
Bartender/Proprietor of Lockwood STN. David Daquiri is a beverage industry professional with several decades of experience working in and around hospitality. Over the years David has filled positions such as wait staff, bartender, bar manager, and Beverage Director, in Houston restaurants and bars. Through those experiences, his knowledge and passion for hospitality and the Houston community continued to grow.
With a sophisticated palate, sharp sense of smell, and impeccable presentation, he continues to cultivate customers’ taste and broaden their knowledge. Over the years, David has been a mentor to young upcoming bartenders, served on and promoted the USBG Houston chapter and competed on prestigious competitions. David hosts and produces a weekly podcast called “The
Open Bar Experience,” which focuses on the life and experiences of beverage professionals, instigating necessary conversations for the personal growth of the individual and the hospitality industry.
Shepard Ross (Restaurateur & Grape Alchemist)
Bravery Chef Hall Partner and Grape Alchemist. Shepard Ross started working in restaurants at a young age, supporting his writing/acting ambitions in New York And Los Angeles. An unexpected partnership in a New York supper club, and a 5-year stint working for Chef Michel Richard at his flagship Citrus Restaurant in Los Angeles, where he helmed events with Chefs Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse and Julia Child, cemented his interest in wine, food and hospitality.
Educated at Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine School and The Court of Master Sommeliers along with extensive travel and work in multiple wine regions over twenty years, he specializes in designing unique wine and beverage programs. Moving to Houston, Shepard worked for Four Seasons Hotels, and ran operations for Zula, downtown.
As Founder/Owner of Glass Wall in 2006, Shepard collected accolades including best new restaurant, best restaurant design and best service. Following Glass Wall, he opened BRC in 2009, Brooklyn Athletic Club in 2013 and Pax Americana in 2014, gaining national acclaim and rave reviews.
Shepard has consulted for other restaurant groups including Soma, Arthur Ave., Helen in the Heights, Kiran’s, Maison Pucha, Tea & Victory, Jonathans Memorial Green and Decatur Bar & Pop Up Factory. Shepard also continues to make wine, since his first vintage in 2009, from Napa under his Label MadCat Cellars, named for his two daughters Madeline and Catherine.
Jonathan Gallardo (Veteran Bartender)
Bartender/Proprietor of The Secret Garden. Secret Garden’s “secret” weapon is veteran Houston bartender, Jonathan Gallardo. With craft cocktail skills acquired behind the bars at NOX, The Grove, Hughes Hanger, The 18th Cocktail Bar, and 1919, Jonathan has perfected his flair for showmanship and mad cocktail skills building a loyal fan base at Prohibition Supper Club.
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