M A T T H E W “ M A T T “ S T A P H
Driven by purpose in the kitchen, Matt Staph has focused his career to work in restaurants that mirror that philosophy. Chef John Tesar first inspired Staph to pursue a career in cooking when he hired the promising young talent at The Commissary in Dallas. When it closed, Staph waited tables at Chef Graham Dodds’ Central 214, only to request a job in the kitchen six months later because his passion was in the kitchen. Staph spent five years working for Chef Dodds at a variety of restaurants, focusing on whole animal cooking and charcuterie at Hibiscus and vegetable-based cooking at Wayword Sons. He executed Dodds’ strict philosophy of minimizing waste, supporting local farms and sustainability and preserves those ideas in his cooking today.
In 2016, after moving from Dallas to Houston, Staph sought out a restaurant that supports and encourages a similar belief system. He discovered Underbelly, which wasn’t hiring, but signed on at Chef Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth, a five-year restaurant project that changed concepts each year. Staph was part of the opening crew of One Fifth Steak and was promoted to chef de cuisine prior to the opening of the second concept, One Fifth Romance Languages. One Fifth's third concept, One Fifth Mediterranean, was named Best New Restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2019. “That was one of my proudest moments,” says Staph. “Growing up, my mom always had issues of Texas Monthly in the house, so to receive that recognition was super special.” One Fifth Gulf Coast and One Fifth Southern Comfort were the fourth and final concepts in which Staph served as chef de cuisine.
In 2021, with One Fifth coming to a close, Staph seized the opportunity to become Executive Chef for Brennan’s of Houston. “What I’m most excited about in working with Brennan’s is learning and researching the food and history behind the restaurant and the entire Brennan’s empire,” says Staph. “People talk about Houston and they think of Brennan’s of Houston and when they talk about New Orleans, they always talk about Commander’s Palace. Being a part of that history is exciting. It is an honor to add my name to that list of amazing chefs. I want to be the best that Brennan’s has to offer.”
Staph admits, prior to diving into research of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cuisines for One Fifth Gulf Coast, he believed they were one in the same, but soon learned there are huge differences. “Creole specifically speaks to Houston because creole is a melting pot. Houston is a melting pot. There are so may cultures here... Chinese, Korean, Indian. I would love to bring more modern creole flair to Brennan’s menu as time goes on. There’s the modern evolution of the French, Spanish, Carribbean and African influences that came up through Louisiana, and now it’s even more so with with Vietnamese. The possibilities are endless.”