One of the Houston-area’s most acclaimed steakhouses has a new executive chef. Killen’s Steakhouse chef-owner Ronnie Killen tells CultureMap that he has hired Steve Haug, recently of Jade Hospitality (Grazia Italian Kitchen, Peska) to replace Joe Cervantez in the lead role at his popular Pearland restaurant.
“I think he’s a great addition to the team,” Killen says. “I’m very excited about it.”
Prior to joining Grazia, Haug spent 18 years working for Del Frisco’s, including 10 years as the executive chef of the Double Eagle Steakhouse in the Galleria. In addition to that experience, Haug brings a reputation as an effective leader who's not afraid to work long hours. Before making him an offer, Killen sought perspective from one of his current employees who worked for Haug at Del Frisco’s; he liked what he heard.
“He’s definitely a hard worker,” Killen says. “When your past employees speak that highly of you . . . that speaks volumes to me.”
Haug has been instrumental in Jade’s transformation of Peska into an upscale destination for seafood and steak. He tells CultureMap that he has some regrets about leaving just before the restaurant reintroduces itself to diners, but he felt that he couldn’t turn down the the opportunity to return to a dedicated steakhouse and work with one of Houston’s most acclaimed chefs.
“I’ve known Ronnie for a decade, and I’ve always respected him,” Haug says. “In the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to work with him. I think this is a good opportunity for me.”
Haug's time at Grazia also helped him build a solid reputation with Pearland residents, which should help the steakhouse further grow its business. Ultimately, Killen says that he hopes Haug can bring his expertise to a larger management role in the company, but the chef's first priority will be at the steakhouse.
Killen expects Haug to assume his new role next week. He declined to say what Cervantez’s plans are.