Houston's culinary scene consistently attracts national attention. From Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema ranking the city above New York as a dining destination to the New York Times's 36-hour visit that included a number of hotspots, the national press always finds something to talk about after visiting the Bayou City.
Recently, restaurant industry trade publication FSR joined the trend by naming Camerata sommelier Rachel DelRocco and Kata Robata sous chef Cyrus Caclini to its list of 40 Under 40 Rising Stars. The reader-nominated list attempts to sample broadly from both front and back-of-house employees.
The FSR rising stars may already be making a name for themselves in their own towns—and in some instances, in cities far and wide. However, for some, their stellar contributions may be overshadowed by the prestige of the restaurant itself or by other celebrities in their midst. It is our pleasure to include a diverse group of stars, some who have reached an impressive pinnacle and others who are just beginning their rise. Representing all walks of restaurant life, these rising stars include entrepreneurial restaurateurs, chef owners, culinary award winners, executive visionaries, and beverage directors.
The magazine singles out Del Rocco for the work she did prior to her move to Houston at Qui in Austin. In her role as beverage director she "developed a reputation for her ability to blend wine and spirits knowledge with unique customer service expertise," they write. She also earned an Eater Young Gun award.
Caclini follows in the foot steps of some pretty major talents who have worked at Kata Robata alongside executive chef Manabu Horiuchi (Hori-san). Although his role as sous chef is slightly different than predecessors like The Pass & Provisions owner Seth Siegel-Gardner (consulting chef) and Izakaya executive chef Philippe Gaston (chef de cuisine), he is following in their footsteps by working alongside Hori-san to develop new dishes for Houston's best sushi restaurant.
If the national press is going to continue to shine a spotlight on Houston, the next generation of chefs and front of house professionals will have to step up to keep the city growing. Hopefully, rising stars like DelRocco and Caclini will continue to share their talents with Houstonians for many years to come.