chefs on the move

2 Houston chefs at high-profile restaurants make major moves

2 Houston chefs at high-profile restaurants make major moves

Brian Sutton Annie Cafe Turner's
Chef Brian Sutton now leads The Annie Cafe and Turner's.   Photo by Jenn Duncan
Chivos Greg Perez, Leesly Valdez, Thomas Bille, Celi Perez, Chris Manriquez
Thomas Bille, center, has left Chivos. Photo by Dylan McEwan
Annie Cafe duck confit
Duck confit is the new Wednesday special at The Annie Cafe. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Brian Sutton Annie Cafe Turner's
Chivos Greg Perez, Leesly Valdez, Thomas Bille, Celi Perez, Chris Manriquez
Annie Cafe duck confit

One of Houston’s highest-profile legacy restaurants recently welcomed a new executive chef. Meanwhile, one of 2021’s most exciting newcomers saw its chef suddenly depart. Here’s a quick look at the latest food news to know.

Berg Hospitality has named Brian Sutton as the new executive chef for both The Annie Café & Bar and Turner’s. He replaces Annie Café founder and James Beard Award winner Robert Del Grande, who announced in May that he had stepped away from the day-to-day position of executive chef in favor of a chef emeritus role. Jose Valencia remains chef de cuisine.

A native of England, Sutton brings more than 26 years of experience to Houston, including time as the executive sous chef at Napa Valley’s Calistoga Ranch resort and at the Lake Placid Lodge and The Point, which is where he met Berg Hospitality founder Ben Berg.

Sutton has already begun to put his mark on the menu with a number of new dishes for brunch, lunch, and dinner. They include a crab cake Benedict, wood-grilled octopus, and duck leg confit that’s the new Wednesday night dinner special. He’s also refreshed preparations such as Scottish salmon with green chile mole and chicken with red chile almond sauce, both of which are available on the Houston Restaurant Weeks dinner menu.

“Although Brian has big shoes to fill as Robert Del Grande’s successor, I am confident that he is the perfect candidate based on his extensive culinary expertise and leadership skills, which I was able to witness firsthand when we worked together,” Berg said in a statement. “I am extremely happy with The Annie’s refreshed menu, and I know our guests will welcome the new additions and updates to the current dishes.”

Chef Thomas Bille has parted ways with Chivos, the modern Mexican restaurant in the Heights. Opened in October by Night Moves Hospitality, the growing bar and restaurant group behind Trash Panda Drinking Club in the Near Northside, Chivos blends Mexican ingredients and preparations with flavors from other immigrant cultures such as Chinese and Peruvian.

Bille provided the following statement to CultureMap about his departure:

I am leaving the helm at Chivos. I am shifting my focus on my family and physical health. I will be working on some consulting in the time being and ultimately working towards reopening Belly of the Beast Taqueria. I am grateful for the opportunity and platform Chivos has given me and I wish them much success. After some much needed rest, I will be available for pop ups and collaborations, so stay on the lookout. Thank you and see you around.

Belly of the Beast is the restaurant in Old Town Spring where Bille first introduced himself to Houston-area diners. The Los Angeles native built a devoted following for his ceviches and a wide of range of tacos, including his signature birria. It closed last summer, but Bille explains that he wants to reopen it in a new location.

In response to CultureMap’s request for comment about Bille’s departure, Night Moves partner Greg Perez provided the following statement: “We appreciate Chef Thomas and all of his efforts at Chivos. The Night Moves Hospitality team wishes him well in his next endeavor.”

Perez adds that Chivos has begun a search for a new executive chef. The restaurant will continue to operate without Bille, including by participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks.