Major Chef Shakeup

Restaurant shocker: A major Houston hotspot sees the chef it's named for suddenly leave

Hot Houston restaurant Philippe sees the chef it's named for leave

Chef Philippe Schmit will no longer be cooking at his namesake restaurant but will maintain his status as operating partner and co-owner. Photo by Shannon O'Hara
News_Philippe Restaurant
His name is on everything from the building to the plates, but the French Cowboy is out at Philippe. Photo by Michelle Watson/
News_Philippe Restaurant

Philippe Schmit is no longer the chef at his namesake restaurant Philippe, a source tells CultureMap. Although Schmit will remain an operating partner and maintains an ownership stake in the Galleria-area restaurant, he will be moving on to other projects.

Chef de cuisine Manuel Pucha, who has worked with Schmit for 15 years, will take over the kitchen. It's the latest change at Philippe, which also hired a new general manager, Dallas Easterly, back in July.

 Trevino Boyd confirmed that the restaurant has no plans to change its name.  

Sommelier Vanessa Trevino Boyd called the split "totally amicable . . . Philippe and I are still close," Trevino Boyd tells CultureMap. "I can attest to his ambition and his generosity," although she isn't sure whether Schmit's next project will be in Houston or elsewhere. 

It's unclear where the restaurant goes from here. Trevino Boyd confirmed that the restaurant has no plans to change its name. Although the new executive chef will likely be able to replicate Schmit's signature "French cowboy" cooking, how will the dining room fare without the chef's larger than life personality to infuse it? 

The restaurant provided the following statement when contacted by CultureMap and asked questions about the departure: 

After nearly two years as Executive Chef of Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, Philippe Schmit is leaving his post to pursue other projects, but he will still remain an equity partner in the restaurant. We wish him profound success in his future endeavors.  We’re thrilled to announce that Chef de Cuisine Manuel Pucha has officially stepped into the position of Executive Chef.  Manuel has worked closely with Schmit for the past 15 years, and had already unofficially been acting as Executive Chef for the past year while Schmit was taking an increasingly greater role outside of the kitchen in marketing and socializing with patrons. Pucha possesses a wealth of experience and we look forward to seeing him take our culinary service to new heights.