Robert Del Grande, Houston’s first-ever James Beard Award winner, set to retire

Stacey C. Slagle

It is the conclude of an era at The Annie — and in Houston — as trailblazing chef Robert Del Grande ways down from working day-to-working day duties at the restaurant and into semi-retirement.

Del Grande will continue to be on team (and on payroll) as Chef Emeritus with Berg Hospitality. Benjamin Berg’s at any time-increasing Houston cafe group bought RDG + Cafe Annie in 2019, making Del Grande a spouse, and transformed it into The Annie Cafe & Bar. A year afterwards, just as the pandemic lockdowns strike, they opened the clubby, super-higher-conclusion Turner’s in a cosy area on the floor floor.

The 67-year-outdated Del Grande built his mark — domestically and nationally — at what was initially called Cafe Annie. Around the decades, and via several iterations, the cafe was a staple on the city’s fine dining scene at its superior-finish spot on Put up Oak Boulevard, north of the Galleria.

Del Grande was an innovator in what was acknowledged in the 1980s as the New Southwestern Cuisine, which laid the foundations for Houston’s melting-pot culinary culture by introducing regional ingredients and forms to high-finish American dining. It was a radical improve to come upon an enchilada on a high-quality-dining menu again then and Del Grande’s well known environmentally friendly mussel soup, livened with a brisk present of cilantro, tasted innovative.

Del Grande received that individual concept from Mexican cooks operating on his kitchen line, he once advised me. It marked a new, far more democratic way of pondering about foodstuff in the city, and not all people appreciated it. Tony Vallone, the king of good French and Italian dining below for decades, the moment dismissed Del Grande’s menu as “just Mexican meals.”

Del Grande’s history might have helped him see factors in a distinctive way. A biochemist by schooling, he taught himself to cook when he arrived in Houston in 1981 and began doing work at the minimal bistro run by his wife-to-be’s sister and brother-in-regulation, Candice and Lonnie Schiller. Reading through avidly, he grounded himself in classic French method and turned enamored of Nouvelle Cuisine, which was lighter and more dynamic.

Del Grande’s kitchen at Cafe Annie turned a must-cease through its heyday for well-known food items writers and cooks coming as a result of town. Everybody from Mimi Sheraton to Jame Villas to Paul Bocuse stopped in. Del Grande earned a James Beard Very best Chef Southwest Award in 1992 — a feat not repeated right until Chris Shepherd received the title in 2014.

Del Grande’s film-star appears to be like and his wife Mimi’s effervescence at the entrance of the dwelling made their cafe even a lot more of a put to be. Cafe Annie was extensive a culture hangout, although the cafe experienced missing some of its luster and daring by the time Berg stepped in with his provide for the pricey, two-story place.

Now, it is on the brink of an additional significant alter. Del Grande hopes to support in the lookup for a new government chef that is underway. And he aims to fill a mentoring position at the restaurant, although having to shell out additional time with his family and his new grandson. He’ll still action in for appearances and unique situations.

No matter what roles he takes on, Del Grande’s location in Houston’s foods historical past remains confident.

alison.prepare [email protected]

Next Post

5 keys to smaller and smarter gadgets

As culture evolves, so does technological innovation far too. What has after deemed slicing edge is now obsolete. This is specially true when it comes to gadgets. You have found the changeover from bulky laptops to slim tablets and chunky cell telephones to smooth smartphones in just a few many […]