Brennan's new chef

Up-and-coming Chef of the Year returns to head culinary team at iconic Houston restaurant

Up-and-coming Chef of the Year returns to iconic Houston restaurant

News, Taste of the Nation, Sept. 2015 Joe Cervantez, Ronnie Killen
Joe Cervantez, seen here with Ronnie Killen, is going back to Brennan's. Photo by Quy Tran

Brennan’s of Houston has found its new executive chef. The iconic Houston restaurant announced on Tuesday that it has hired former Killen’s Steakhouse executive chef Joe Cervantez to fill the role recently vacated by Danny Trace, who suddenly departed Brennan’s after seven years.

Cervantez brings lots of experience to the his new position. Prior to joining Killen’s, the chef worked at Brennan’s under Trace. 

"We are thrilled to welcome Joe back to the Brennan’s of Houston family,” says proprietor Alex Brennan-Martin in a statement. “Joe is one of the most talented and resourceful young chefs I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my years in the restaurant business, and on behalf of (general manager) Carl Walker, chef Jose Arevalo, chef Martin Weaver and the rest of the team, we are ecstatic that Joe will be returning to the kitchen next month.”

Hired in 2014 by Killen's chef-owner Ronnie Killen to lead the steakhouse after he began spending more time managing and developing his other concepts, Cervantez earned wide acclaim for helping the restaurant transition from its original location into a larger location. Local diners recognized his work by awarding him the Up-and-Coming Chef of the Year award at 2016's Houston Culinary Awards.

Killen tells CultureMap that he encouraged Cervantez to accept the new position. “I don’t really want to lose Joe, but he’s the best person for that position,” Killen says. Later, he added, “whenever Joe does a feature, he does something that would be perfect for the Brennan’s menu.”

The chef adds that he’s watched Cervantez grow as both a cook and a manager during his time at the restaurant. “I never have to worry about something not being right,” Killen says.

Cervantez will spend a couple of weeks training at Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s world famous sister restaurant in New Orleans, before returning to Houston and assuming his new role in June. 

"Brennan’s of Houston has always felt like home to me and I look forward to what’s to come in this new role,” added Cervantez. “I have watched Ella Brennan's Commanding the Table documentary three times now, and each time I get more excited.”