New Orleans chef John Besh hosted a book signing and dinner event Tuesday night at Underbelly to promote his newest cook book Cooking From The Heart. Originally slated to seat 30 people, demand was so great that chef/owner Chris Shepherd decided to close the restaurant to regular diners and seat 200 people.
Lead by Shepherd and sous chefs Ryan Lachaine and Lyle Bento, the Underbelly crew served four courses inspired by Besh's recipes, including whole roasted snapper and a bowl of meat that contained pork belly, pork leg and spicy, housemade sausage. Shepherd told the group that, as he was flipping through the book, he became more and more excited about the recipes.
More than the food, Besh was the star of the evening.
"Oh, this is going to be awesome, this is going to be awesome . . . I love this book," Shepherd said.
More than the food, Besh was the star of the evening. He signed every book, posed for every picture and received sustained applause when he addressed the crowd. "It's the third book I've ever written; (it contains) a piece of my heart and soul," he said. As for the turnout, "Blame it on Chris!"
Rumors that Besh has his eye on opening a restaurant in Houston float through industry circles, but so far nothing's ever come from them. No big announcements came last night, but a 200-person, $125 each, one-night pop-up is a pretty good proof of concept.