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Two of America's hottest chefs pick Houston over New York: Behind the scenes at Pass & Provisions

6, Pass & Provisions, October 2012, pizza, mushrooms
Photo by Joel Luks
7, Pass & Provisions, Seth Siegel-Gardner, Terrence Gallivan
Seth Siegel-Gardner, left, and Terrence Gallivan Photo by Joel Luks

It's possible that when we look back at the transformation of Houston's food scene into a world-class culinary mecca, the tipping point will be the arrival of the Just August Project.

In a city bursting with local talent — chefs with degrees from the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu and stints working under famous names like Thomas Keller and Jean-Georges Vongerichten — Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan have resumes that stand out.

The pair met on their first day in the kitchen of Gordon Ramsay's eponymous restaurant at The London in New York and both consider internationally renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson a mentor. (Siegel-Gardner worked for him at Aquavit and helped open C-House in Chicago; Gallivan was at New York's August.)

 Forget the hot summers: Hometown roots, a community of like-minded chefs and non-astronomical operating costs convinced the duo to make Houston their launching pad. 

With Just August Project, a 30-day pop-up restaurant inside BYOB spot Just Dinner, Houston native Siegel-Gardner and reluctant visitor Gallivan (plus Justin Yu, who has gone on to open his own hotspot in Oxheart) found a rabidly receptive foodie community — one that sold out every table for the entire month — and friendship and guidance from culinary players like Chris Shepherd.

Forget the hot summers: The pull of hometown roots, a community of like-minded chefs and non-astronomical operating costs convinced the duo to make Houston — not New York — their launching pad.

Just over two years later, they've opened The Pass & Provisions in the former Gravitas space to huge excitement. Technically, they've only opened half of it: Provisions, the casual side, serves gourmet pizzas, pastas, entrees, bread pairings and more. The Pass, opening in a couple of months, will offer a prix fixe menu of the sort of intellectual offerings that Siegel-Gardner and Gallivan have become known for with their Pilot Light dinners and a stunning preview with Samuelsson himself.

Check out the video above for the story of Gallivan and Siegel-Gardner's unique partnership, their journey to opening The Pass & Provisions and a behind-the-scenes look at a few signature dishes.

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