Chef on the move

Acclaimed Houston chef suddenly departs bustling Washington Avenue restaurant

Acclaimed Houston chef suddenly departs Washington Avenue restaurant

FM Kitchen & Bar Ryan Hildebrand
Ryan Hildebrand has left FM Kitchen. Photo by Eric Sandler

A talented Houston chef is the culinary world’s newest free agent. Ryan Hildebrand announced on Facebook that he’s resigned his position as chef-partner of FM Kitchen & Bar.

Hildebrand opened FM Kitchen in 2017 as the follow-up to Triniti, his fine dining restaurant that closed shortly after Super Bowl LI. Built around a great cheeseburger and other comfort food dishes, FM Kitchen quickly became a hit. The restaurant announced earlier this year that it would open a second location in Montrose.

Although it has developed an audience, Hildebrand tells CultureMap that his partnership in the restaurant had become “untenable.” He’s leaving now in order to give FM time to find a replacement before the new location opens next year.

“I need to focus on doing what I love to do and what I started all this for, and that’s to be a chef and to enjoy my craft again and take care of my family,” he says.

“My family really enjoys my craft. My girls have come up through it, through Triniti and through FM. Cooking is something we do together, and I need to get back to some of my grass roots of why I started doing this in the first place.”

Getting back to his roots doesn’t necessarily mean getting back to fine dining, Hildebrand adds, although he does think it will lead him to another restaurant. The chef cites the experience of cooking in his backyard with his daughters.

“Triniti was very artistic. FM was down the middle,” he says.” I want to get back to being tactile and touching and feeling what I do and creating things that are from the heart.“

Meanwhile, FM Kitchen will move forward without Hildebrand overseeing the kitchen. The restaurant provided the following statement in response to CultureMap’s request for comment.

“We are really grateful for chef Hildebrand's time with FM Kitchen and Bar. His leadership has been invaluable during the launch and throughout our first two years.”