Carl Walker - General Manager, Brennan's of Houston
At age 17, Carl Walker transformed from Missouri farm boy into United States Marine. As he took the giant leap from childhood to adulthood, Carl was uniquely armed with hands-on knowledge about fresh produce, food preparation, and long, frenzied workdays.
After citing cooking as his passion, Carl was schooled at cooking en mass for the corps, graduating at the top of his class and serving up to 7,000 Marines at each meal. Chef Carl even made the Marine Corps’ birthday cake on a long-ago November 10th that required four strong Marines to transport. The Marine Corps experience instilled timely confidence in his craft and motivated Carl to seriously pursue culinary arts.
Upon graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, Carl interviewed with the famous New Orleans restaurateur Ella Brennan, legendary for her establishments’ great food, great service, and great memories. Under Ella’s watchful eye, Carl progressed from Sous Chef at Mr. B’s Bistro to Executive Sous Chef for Emeril Lagasse at nearby Commander’s Palace. Those years were fruitful to Chef Carl’s career, enabling him to absorb a wealth of Creole cooking knowledge, explore the bounty of the Coast Coast, and incorporate fresh produce from local farmers. In 1989, Chef Carl was named Executive Chef at Brennan’s of Houston. Although 350 miles from New Orleans, Carl continued to serve up Big Easy flavors in the Bayou City, melding Cajun-Creole cuisine with chilies and salsas that were proudly Texan. The result: dishes with distinct personalities, as well as sides and sauces that enjoyed the same enthusiasm as his main courses.
During his tenure as Executive Chef, Carl launched a radio program and published Brennan’s of Houston In Your Kitchen. Among his distinguished accolades, Chef Carl was a recipient of the highly coveted Culinary Legacy Award, lauded as one of America’s most influential chefs by restaurant critic John Mariani, and tagged “Best Chef in Houston” by My Table magazine. He also added the Ivy Award, Critic’s Choice Award, and the Mobil four-star designation to the Brennan’s of Houston’s bragging rights. And like Alex, Carl considers parenting among his greatest accomplishments.
In 2003, Chef Carl passed the torch of his coveted position to notable up-and-coming Chef de Cuisine Randy Evans and assumed General Manager responsibilities at Brennan’s of Houston. Carl continues to serves as a delightful role model in action, engenders unconditional loyalty of staff and patrons, and ensures that every meal invokes a special memory.