The chef behind Chris Shepherd’s new restaurant, plus the latest food news

On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” Chef nick well joins CultureMap Editor-in-Chief Eric Sandler to discuss wild oats. Newly opened in the Houston Farmers Market, Wild Oats is Underbelly Hospitality’s ode to Texas‘ diverse culinary traditions.

Fine discusses his unlikely entry into the world of professional cooking and the path that eventually led to him opening One Fifth with Underbelly Hospitality founder Chris Shepherd. The conversation touches on a number of iconic elements of Wild Oats, including Fine’s meticulous research into chicken fried steak, the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, and its wood-burning grill designed by star pitmaster Aaron Franklin.

The chef says he’s had to expand his responsibilities from just running the restaurant – creating dishes, interacting with staff, ordering supplies, etc. – to see things from a broader business perspective. Sandler asks him to clarify what that entails.

“What really matters, especially now, is how many people are working? How much are you paying these people? Do you need everyone there, and is everyone working as hard as they Part of it is, if we can hire fewer people and pay them more, they’ll be better off,” Fine says.

After noting that the company recently started providing health insurance to all its employees, he adds, “The way we want to start running these companies just to line everyone’s pockets. It’s to take care of our employees.”

Listen to the full episode to hear Fine’s thoughts on Georgia James’ plans to move to his new home in the mixed-use Regent Square episode and why he’s convinced Pastore, the company’s new Italian-American restaurant , will be monitored.

Before the interview, Sandler and co-host Linda Salinas discuss the week’s news. Their topics include: Gr8 Plate Hospitality owners Doris and Paul Miller opening Passerella, a new Italian seafood restaurant in Cypress; Jackson Street BBQ closes after eight years; and the opening of Liuyishou Hotpot in Chinatown.

In the restaurant segment of the week, they discuss their recent meals at Loro, the Asian smokehouse concept from Uchi owners Hai Hospitality. They conclude with some thoughts on their brunch at Tatemó, chef Emmanuel Chavez’s corn-based Mexican restaurant.


Subscribe to “What’s Eric Eating” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify. Listen to it Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN 97.5.

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