BRENNAN’S OF HOUSTON ANNOUNCES NEW EXECUTIVE CHEF
The Texas Creole Institution Taps One Fifth’s Chef de Cuisine Matt Staph to Lead its Kitchen
Houston, Texas – Brennan’s of Houston’s Proprietor Alex Brennan-Martin and General Manager Carl Walker are particularly proud to announce that they have tapped Matthew “Matt” Staph as the restaurant’s new Executive Chef. It’s a full-circle moment of sorts with Staph most recently holding the position of chef de cuisine at One Fifth, under the leadership of Brennan’s alum Chef Chris Shepherd, who trained under Carl Walker when he served as Brennan’s executive chef. What goes around comes around in the most positive way. Staph will take over the Brennan’s of Houston kitchen on April 27, 2021, as Chef Joey Chavez departs to take on a new role as personal chef.
“One of the great joys of being a restaurateur is getting the opportunity to work with people who are passionate about their craft and serving guests who enjoy what we do,” says Brennan-Martin. “We have been quite fortunate to work with some of the best over the years who have gone on to do great things in the hospitality world. Today, we come full circle in a sense as we welcome Matt Staph as our executive chef. Matt was part of the opening crew at One Fifth and served as chef de cuisine there for the past four years. As that restaurant comes to a close, it’sour great fortune to have been introduced to him through Chris Shepherd. During our visit, I felt as if I was looking back in time in Brennan’s of Houston history when Chris was an up-and-comer, and we look forward to an exciting future with Matt. It doesn’t get any better.”
A native Texan, Staph was first inspired to pursue a career in cooking while working with Chef John Tesar at The Commissary in Dallas. When the restaurant closed, Staph waited tables at Chef Graham Dodds’ Central 214 but knew the kitchen was where he was most at home and requested a job in the back of the house six months later. Staph spent five years with Chef Dodds at a variety of restaurants, focusing on whole animal cooking and charcuterie at Hibiscus and vegetable-based cooking at Wayward Sons. He executed Dodds’ strict philosophy of minimizing waste, supporting local farms, and maintaining sustainability, which continues in his cooking today.
In 2016, when Staph made the move from Dallas to Houston, he sought out a restaurant that supports and encourages a similar belief system and subsequently became part of the opening crew of Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth, a five-year restaurant project that changes its concept each year. Prior to the opening of One Fifth’s second concept, Romance Languages, Staph was promoted to chef de cuisine. One Fifth’s third concept, One Fifth Mediterranean, was named the Best New Restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2019 and is one of Staph’s proudest career achievements thus far.
“One Fifth has been my home for the past five years and it’s what really made me feel welcome here in Houston. I am truly thankful to Chris and to my experience at One Fifth for opening my eyes to what an extraordinary city Houston is,” says Staph. “We’ve done some really amazing things at One Fifth and now it’s my time, in a way, to follow Chris’ lead at Brennan’s and make it better than it’s ever been. I tell Chris every day, ‘I’m going to be better than you, just wait.’ He loves that.”
Besides working alongside legendary veteran sous chef Jose Arevalo, who has worked closely with many of the top chefs of Brennan’s past, what excites Staph most about working at Brennan’s of Houston is learning and researching the food and history. “I want to learn everything, literally everything, because Brennan’s is an empire. What Miss Ella did and what the family is continuing, that is hospitality to a ‘T’. That is what I strive for. It’s making that authentic, memorable experience that makes people want to come back the next day,” says Staph.
Changing restaurant concepts each year for the past five years has taught Staph how to research and understand any cuisine throughout time. “At Brennan’s that is going to be my first step and something I’ve already been doing – diving deep into the history, understanding it, finding the origins, realizing the evolution of it,” says Staph. “Now is my time to continue that evolution. We’ve gone through some insane times in the past year, and now it’s like we’re on the cusp of normalcy and Saturday nights feel like Saturday nights again. I’m ready to blow it up and make that place shine brighter than it ever has. That’s my goal.”