Chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly - Biography
It is a desire for knowledge that drives the ever ambitious Underbelly owner and Chef Chris Shepherd. After graduating from the culinary arts program at the Art Institute of Houston, Shepherd worked in 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 fromagier, sommelier, and executive sous chef.
In preparation for the opening of his first restaurant, Catalan, he and another Art Institute-er, Charles Clark, ate their way through Barcelona, where the pure, rustic flavors of Catalan dishes and the vibrant culture enthralled Shepherd. For his efforts, Shepherd won a 2011 StarChefs Rising Stars Award. The same year, he went on to open Underbelly and Haymarket with fellow Rising Star, Bartender Bobby Heugel.
Since then, Underbelly has received national recognition and praise. In 2014 alone, Shepherd won James Beard’s “Best Chef, Southwest,” was named one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine, and Underbelly was anointed one of the top new restaurants in the country by Esquire and Bon Appétit. The restaurant was also added to Eater National’s “38 Best Restaurants” list in 2015, and recently spawned two kiosks inside Reliant Stadium, serving award-winning food during Texans home games. This year, Shepherd and HOUBBQ Collective will host the second iteration of Southern Smoke, a barbecue invitational and street party, with the goal of raising $200,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.