On this week’s episode of What Eric Eating, James Beard Award-Winning Chef Justin Yu He joins CultureMap Food Editor Eric Sandler to discuss his various projects. Chef and owner of popular downtown restaurant Theodore Rex, Yu also partnered with Anvil owner Bobby Heugel to create Thorough Fare Hospitality, the group behind Better Luck Tomorrow, Squable, and The Fancy, a restaurant that opened this fall at the Lucine Hotel in Galveston.
The conversation began with Yu recalling the opening of Oxheart in 2012 and challenging conventional wisdom about whether Houstonians would be willing to accept a tasting menu restaurant. From there, the conversation turns to his professional relationships with the chefs who command his kitchens: Kaitlin Steets in Oxheart, Michael O’Connor in Better Luck Tomorrow, and Mark Clayton in Squable.
Sandler asks Yu about how he and Hoegel signed up for the Lucien Hotel and what diners can expect from The Fancy. Yu shares that he came to Galveston since childhood and developed an affection for the city as an adult. These experiences will shape The Fancy, as well as his professional experiences up to this point.
The way I like to describe it is your weird aunt who never married; She throws dinner parties all the time. She always throws that little spin in there. This is what we will cook. Things that relate a lot to people but always get our little attention right there. A lot of that has to do with the use of under-exploited fish species…
I think there will be a few comforting dishes, some that push you out of your comfort zone, a raw bar but no oysters on half a shell, savory flavors, and a couple of salads. We will always focus on quality and execution first. It will be a noisy and turbulent place. I think people will really enjoy it.
Listen to the full episode to hear Yu’s thoughts on the James Beard Awards. He also mentioned several chefs and bartenders who he believes will leave their mark on the city’s dining scene in the years to come.
Before the interview, Sandler and co-host Linda Salinas discussed the news of the week. Their topics include: Chef Roberto Crischini collaborated with the General Manager of BCN Paco Calza to open the Davanti Ristorante Italiano; Return of Rice Souffle to the Houston area; and Bad Astronaut, a new brewery opening north of downtown.
In the Restaurant of the Week section, Salinas and Sandler share some first impressions of Amrina’s new Indian-inspired restaurant in The Woodlands. Find out why the two friends think it might turn out to be the best restaurant in the North Suburb.
Subscribe to “What Eric Eating” on Apple podcasts, Google Play or Spotify. Listen to it on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN 97.5.