Whats Eric Eating
What's Eric Eating Episode 247

James Beard Award-winning Houston chef dishes on new Galveston hotel project, plus hottest food news

Beard Award-winning Houston chef dishes on new Galveston hotel project

Justin Yu Theodore Rex
Justin Yu is this week's guest. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Hotel Lucine The Fancy food spread
Yu discusses his plans for The Fancy. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Amrina exterior
Amrina is the show's restaurant of the week. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Justin Yu Theodore Rex
Hotel Lucine The Fancy food spread
Amrina exterior

On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Yu joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his various projects. The chef-owner of acclaimed downtown restaurant Theodore Rex, Yu also partnered with Anvil owner Bobby Heugel to create Thorough Fare Hospitality, the group behind Better Luck Tomorrow, Squable, and The Fancy, a restaurant opening this fall at the Hotel Lucine in Galveston. 

The conversation begins with Yu recalling opening Oxheart in 2012 and defying the conventional wisdom around whether Houstonians would be willing to accept a tasting menu restaurant. From there, the conversation turns to his professional relationships with the chefs who lead his kitchens: Kaitlin Steets at Oxheart, Michael O'Connor at Better Luck Tomorrow, and Mark Clayton at Squable.

Sandler asks Yu about how he and Heugel became involved with the Hotel Lucine and what diners can expect from The Fancy. Yu shares that he's been coming to Galveston since childhood and has developed an affection for the city as an adult. Those experiences will shape The Fancy, as does his professional experiences to this point.

The way I love describing it is your quirky aunt who never gets married; she throws dinner parties all the time. She always throws that little spin in there. That's what we're going to cook. Things that relate a lot to people but always throw our little spin in there. A lot of that relates to hopefully using underutilized fish species...

I think there will be a few dishes that are comforting, a few that push you outside your comfort zone, a raw bar but no oysters on the half shell, fun crudos, a couple of salads. We're always going to focus on quality and execution first. It's going to be a loud and rambunctious place. I think people are really going to enjoy it.  

Listen to the full episode to hear Yu's thoughts on the James Beard Awards. He also mentions several chefs and bartenders he thinks will be making their mark on the city's dining scene in the years to come.

Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Linda Salinas discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: chef Roberto Crescini teaming up with BCN general manager Paco Calza to open Davanti Ristorante Italiano; Rise Soufflé returning to the Houston area; and Bad Astronaut, a new brewery opening north of downtown.

In the restaurant of the week segment, Salinas and Sandler share some first impressions of Amrina, the new, Indian-inspired fine dining restaurant in The Woodlands. Hear why the two friends think it might become the best restaurant in the northern suburb. 

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