On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Justin Yoakum joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his career. Since 2019, the native Houstonian has served as executive chef and culinary director for Culinary Khancepts, the local hospitality group behind State Fare Kitchen & Bar and Liberty Kitchen.
Yoakum joined Culinary Khancepts after it acquired State Fare from Cherry Pie Hospitality. The company added Liberty Kitchen last year. Sandler notes that the two restaurants share a co-founder and offers his opinion that they have similarly culinary perspectives. Now that the establishments have the same owner, Sandler asks Yoakum what he'd doing to draw a more clear distinction between them.
"We circled back on what is their identity and who do we want them to be. [Whatever] that is, we want them to be the best version of that," Yoakum explains. "After talking to the owner, he wanted [Liberty] to be elevated coastal cuisine, not so much focused on the Southern side. He wants them to have really great brunches but more of a Hamptons-style brunch versus a Southern-style brunch . . . That's what we've been striving for."
Prior to the interview, Avondale Food & Wine owner Mary Clarkson joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the restaurants opening in 2021 that they're most excited about; private equity firm Peak Rock Capital's purchase of Shipley Do-Nuts; and proposed legislation that would allow Texas restaurants to sell alcohol to-go forever.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Clarkson and Sandler share first impressions of Hidden Omakase, the upscale sushi restaurant that recently opened near the Galleria. Listen to hear whether they would choose chef Billy Kin's 12-course, $150 tasting menu over similar offerings from restaurants like MF Sushi and Kata Robata.