It is a desire for knowledge that drives the ever ambitious Catalan Food and Wine Co-owner and Chef Chris Shepherd. After graduating from the Culinary Arts Program of Houston’s Art Institute, Shepherd worked in various area country clubs before joining his Art Institute pal Chef Randy Evans at Brennan’s of Houston. Shepherd swiftly worked his way up the ranks from line cook and purchasing agent to fromager, “wine guy,” and executive sous chef.
Not only is the 2011 Houston Rising Star Chef adept in the kitchen, he absolutely loves every aspect of the restaurant business, especially getting to the root of a cuisine. In preparation for Catalan, he and another Art Institute compatriot, Charles Clark, ate their way through Barcelona, where the pure, rustic flavors of Catalan dishes and the vibrant culture enthralled him.
Shepherd, who values the freshness of ingredients above all else, painstakingly sources locally grown foods. “It’s about getting the best possible quality. There’s nothing like driving with 20 heads of fennel in the car and smelling that fresh aroma all the way back to the restaurant,” he says. “It really gets my creativity going!”
Shepherd’s talents, standards, and meticulousness have all been amply rewarded. Among his national recognition, the chef has received praise in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Food Arts, and Wine Spectator. And “wine guy” at heart, he continues to be a wine resource for numerous local and national publications. Shepherd recently announced that he and 2011 Houston Rising Star Mixologist Bobby Heugel will partner to open Underbelly and Haymarket.