On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Mark Holley joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his lengthy career. As Holley explains, he grew up in Ohio but became "Creolized" when he worked for iconic Houston restaurant Brennan's. From there, he moved on to Pesce, a seafood restaurant founded by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola, before opening Holley's, his Midtown seafood restaurant that closed in 2017. Recently, he became the executive chef at Davis St. at Hermann Park.
Like Holley's, Davis St. had been closed for two years when its owner approached the chef about returning to the kitchen. Holley says he had done some consulting and even considered cooking at a country club. Sandler asks the chef why he chose to get back into the harried world of operating a restaurant.
"Well, I think it would have been more stressful at the country club, because maybe that isn't where my passion was. I joke about never working a day in my life and enjoying going to work every day and being with people and creating food," Holley says, noting that he's not in the role of mentoring a team of younger chefs. "The country club, I would have made it somewhat difficult, tried to change it to a restaurant. That probably would have been a little difficult for the members. I'm less stressed now, because I'm having fun, I'm cooking, I'm working with people, and developing them to their next level in the industry."
Prior to Holley joining the show, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the James Beard Foundation making Texas its own region for its annual restaurant and chef awards; the sudden closure of Viet-Cajun restaurant Saigon House; Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams' plan to open a location in The Heights; and sushi chef Mike Lim leaving Tobiuo to open Kanau Sushi in Midtown.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the two hosts rave about Candente, the newly opened Tex-Mex restaurant from the owners of The Pit Room. They also discuss the highs and lows of Ike's Love & Sandwiches, the California-based restaurant that opened its first Houston location in The Heights.