Greg Morago 

There’s a fresh new face guiding the culinary legacy of at the venerable Brennan’s of Houston.

Joseph “Joey” Chavez, who got his start in the restaurant business in Beaumont while attending Lamar University, has been appointed as executive chef of the iconic Houston restaurant, proprietor Alex Brennan-Martin announced.

Chavez will helm the kitchen following the recent departure of executive chef Joe Cervantez who has joined forces with Raz Halili of Prestige Oyster to open a new restaurant, Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster house in San Leon later this summer.

“One of my greatest joys while here at Brennan’s has been to introduce Houston to exciting new talent,” says Brennan-Martin. “We’ve been energized by so many who have spent their early careers with us in our restaurant and, in large part, are the restaurant we are today because of these great people. With that being said, I am very excited to introduce Houston to our newest executive chef, Joey Chavez.”

Chavez, a Los Angeles native, attended Lamar University in Beaumont on a football scholarship. While earning his bachelor’s and culinary degrees there, he took a job at a local Pappadeaux’s restaurant. That introduction to the restaurant world led to a job at Koi Sushi Bar in Beaumont, followed by La Truffe Sauvage, a French restaurant in Lake Charles. Chavez’s mentors at La Truffe Sauvage encouraged him to seek employment with an international hotel chain which led to a job at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the Ritz Carlton in Beaver Creek, Colo., in 2012. Chavez later staged in New York restaurants including Le Bernardin, Per Se, 11 Madison Park, NoMad, Dovetail and Masa. That work helped him snag a year-long training program with the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in 2015; he worked at both The French Laundry and Bouchon. In 2016, Chavez was named chef de cuisine at the Vietnamese bistro OTD from the Slanted Door Group in San Francisco. He later worked at Caribou Club in Aspen, and most recently as executive chef at The Bygone at the Four Seasons Baltimore where in 2019 he was voted Best New Chef from the Baltimore Sun’s Reader’s Choice Awards.

At Brennan’s, Chavez plans to review the menu and refine techniques for a fresh, modern assessment of the classics. This month he plans to begin a new five-course tasting menu that includes dishes such as Hamachi crudo with Texas peaches and truffle aji amarillo vinaigrette; pate with pepper marmalade and chicharrones; whole roasted Dover sole with smoked oyster meuniere; barbecue lamb with smoked tomato tart; and white chocolate bread pudding with seasonal fruit.

“I’m excited to work with the big, bold flavors that Houston is known for. It’s a melting pot of cultures,” Chavez said. “Similarly, Creole cooking welcomes influences from other cuisines. It feels like a perfect fit.”

Brennan’s of Houston is open for limited dine-in service, as well as participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks with dine-in and to-go menus. The restaurant is open for lunch and brunch Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Tuesday through Sunday 5 to 9 p.m.