On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," sommelier Sean Beck joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his role as beverage director for H-Town Restaurant Group. Beck begins by describing his path from a student waiting tables to being responsible for the wine, beer, and cocktail offerings at restaurants such as Backstreet Cafe, Hugo's, and Caracol.
Sandler asks Beck to discuss the various steps the company has taken in response to governmental restrictions on restaurant dining that are designed to help limit the spread of COVID-19. In particular, Beck has used social media to reach out directly to diners via a daily video series on Facebook he calls "My Messy Cellar;" he's also lured customers to Backstreet by offering to assemble wine packages designed to suit their tastes.
The sommelier is also a frequent presence in some of Houston's food-focused Facebook groups, where he's a passionate advocate for supporting locally owned restaurants. Sandler asks Beck about the occasionally "feisty" tone of some of his posts.
"I'm not mean, but at some point you have to call a spade a spade," Beck says. "If you say you love Houston and you're on a message board that celebrates Houston institutions and every time you're touting Snooze, I think you should look at yourself. Do you really want our city to be a place that's nothing but Starbucks and Snooze and Austin taco chains? I've been in this industry 22 years. I want to celebrate the people that make it special."
Prior to the interview, local beverage consultant Linda Salinas joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include the various strategies Houston's bar community has employed to survive while they're closed, Kroger selling dishes from restaurants, and local chefs hosting online cooking classes.
In the restaurants of the week segment, the hosts discuss some of the places they've been ordering takeout, including Paulie's, Brasil, and Squable.