Food for Thought
Fleming's Maeve Pesquera may live in California but she's still a Houstonian atheart
It’s been six months since Maeve O’Gorman Pesquera, a fixture on Houston’s restaurant and social scene for two decades, quietly slipped out of town, giving up her managing partnership at River Oak’s Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar to become the company’s national director of wine.
But she was back for the first time last week for a special wine dinner.
“My goal tonight is to not cry,” Pesquera said, starting to tear up when a guest hugged her and handed her a present. It was a lovely necklace that she put on right at the table.
But there were some tears, and plenty of laughter, as more and more guests and staff came by for hugs. It was like trying to interview a rock star in the middle of a busy restaurant. Because Pesquera is a restaurant rock star. Or maybe more of a super model.
“My 10-year-old said we were Texa-fornians now. And I guess that’s OK. But I miss Houston, I feel like I’ve never really left, I’m a native Texan and I’ll be back someday. Heat or no heat, there’s no place like Houston.”
But despite the fact that she is more blonde than I’ve ever seen her, she hasn’t gone Hollywood.
“My 10-year-old said we were Texa-fornians now,” she laughed. “And I guess that’s OK. But I miss Houston, I feel like I’ve never really left, I’m a native Texan and I’ll be back someday. Heat or no heat, there’s no place like Houston.”
And the first thing she wanted to do when she got back?
“Eat Tex-Mex!” she exclaimed.
Pesquera sai she and her hubby Luis, also a chef and restaurateur, agonized over the decision to move to California when Fleming’s offered her the corporate position last fall. But it was a dream job she couldn’t pass up.
Not only does she get to oversee the wine and beverage program for 64 Fleming’s locations, she’s also involved in tastings and promotions like the upcoming Fleming’s participation in a New York City 35th anniversary celebration of The Judgment of Paris (if you don’t know about this seminal event in U.S. wine history go out immediately and rent the movie Bottle Shock). The event is limited to 95 people but Fleming’s will be giving away two tickets. Watch the company web site for details on how to win.
She’s also been busy finishing Fleming’s 100, the list of 100 wines by the glass served at the steakhouses. She helped choose 80 wines, the other 20 are chosen by each restaurant based on local preferences.
“Should I say my favorite?” she wondered. “Why not? It’s the Evening Land. The first time I tasted it I cried. It reminded me of spending a summer in France when I was eight years old.”
Pesquera also participated in the tastings for the new small plate menu (that launches Wednesday) and includes petit lamb chops with mint pesto and cubes of peppercorn-crusted tuna.
“I do travel a lot,” Pesquera said. “But I don’t work nights or weekends any more, I’m home to tuck the boys in at night and Luis and I can actually spend more time together than we ever have before. We take the family to the beach every week. We used to have a live-in nanny and now we don’t need one. It’s weird but I love it.”
She also loves her 1947 beach cottage in Laguna Beach, despite the fact the family of six had to downsize from their former 4,100-square-foot home on two acres in Texas.
But the first time she saw the cottage, she knew she had made the right decision to move.
“It’s within walking distance of St. Catherine’s,” she said, “That’s my patron saint.”
And the name of their new parish priest?
Father O’Gorman. Yep, O’Gorman, Pesquera’s maiden name.
And if that isn’t the divine hand of fate, I don’t know what is.