By any measure, Rosalie Italian Soul is one of Houston's most exciting upcoming restaurants. Set to open in September in downtown's C. Baldwin Hotel, San Francisco-based chef Chris Cosentino and business partner Oliver Wharton will serve rustic, Italian-American fare at the restaurant that's inspired by the dishes prepared by the restaurant's namesake, Cosentino's great-grandmother.
Such a personal project requires a deft hand in the kitchen. While Cosentino vows to be a regular presence, he also owns Cockscomb in San Francisco and Jackrabbit in Portland, OR, which means finding someone the Top Chef Masters winner could trust to execute his vision. Towards that end, he's hired chef Sasha Grumman to work as Rosalie's executive chef.
"Sasha worked with me when we opened Cockscomb restaurant five years ago," Cosentino says in an interview that will be heard in full in an upcoming episode of "What's Eric Eating," CultureMap's weekly podcast. "Super, super strong, talented young lady who I've had the opportunity to work with in the past, who knows me. Who knows the style in which I like to cook, but at the same time she has a really strong palate, a strong vision, and can execute like nobody's business. I'm really excited to have her on board."
In addition to her work at Cockscomb, Grumman's extensive resume includes lots of Italian experience, includng Delfina (San Francisco) and Union (Los Angeles). Most recently, she spent the last year working as chef de cuisine at Austin's acclaimed Launderette restaurant.
"This is an opportunity for both of us," Grumman said in a statement. "Since we’ve worked together before, I know how he manages people. The best foundation to a relationship is trust, and he trusts me to execute his vision for this restaurant.”
Cosentino and Wharton have made other key hires, too. Charlie Skipsey will be the hotel's director of restaurants. A restaurant industry veteran with over 20 years of experience, Skipsey briefly worked as food and beverage director at the Hotel Icon in downtown Houston several years ago, but the bulk of his experience is in the Bay Area, Spain, Austin.
"The opportunity to work closely with my longtime friend Oliver Wharton and his partner Chef Cosentino was the main influencing factor,” Skipsey said. “Plus, I lived in Houston nine years ago, but only got to enjoy it for a brief period of time. I’m planning on being here long-term, and I see it as an opportunity to develop new friendships and create something great in this dynamic city."
Finally, Annie Balest will serve as Rosalie's general manager. Best known locally for her work at Vallone's and as general manager of Tony's, Balest and Wharton worked together during the opening of Jaleo, celebrity chef Jose Andres' restaurant on the Las Vegas strip.