At 40, Chris Montero realized he was tired of what he was doing. For years, the New Orleans native had amassed experience within and around the hospitality industry—working at a friend's music club, owning a bar, serving as a maitre d', working in liquor sales. But he ultimately realized his heart was in the kitchen.
Not only did Montero have a familial connection to food (Montero's grandmother was a classic Creole New Orleans housewife, teaching Montero her techniques for roux, meunieres, and etouffées). But Montero had also worked as a bartender at Louis XVI during college, eventually drifting into the kitchen and learning the ropes under Chef Daniel Bonnot. Chefs like Bonnot, Warren Leruth, and Paul Prudhomme—"heavy hitters"—were pivotal influences in Montero's improvised "French Quarter" culinary school.
So when he returned to cooking in 1999, Montero not only had the genetic predisposition, but a solid classical background and a mature determination. He approached Ralph Brennan, was hired on at BACCO, and moved up fast. Within three years, Montero was promoted to executive sous chef, and in the course of his 11 years there, the restaurant thrived. After Hurricane Katrina, Montero was a key part of the Ralph Brennan culinary team that led the charge to reopen his restaurants, the city's first to receive FDA licenses, despite the absence of gas and potable running water.
With such ardent commitment to his craft and his city, it's no surprise Montero oversees a variety of concepts, including American bistro-gastropub hybrid Café B, Ralph Brennan's Courtyard Café at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and catering operations for the French Quarter's historic Hermann-Grima House.