Of all the restaurants slated to open between now and Super Bowl LI, none are more eagerly anticipated than One Fifth. James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd's follow up to Underbelly will change concepts annually for five years, starting with a steakhouse that's on track to open in early- to mid-January in the space formerly occupied by Mark's American Cuisine.
In order to supervise both restaurants, Shepherd has designated a chef de cuisine for each restaurant. At Underbelly, longtime sous chef Gary Ly has been promoted to the role. For One Fifth, Shepherd has hired Nick Fine, who, like Shepherd, worked at Brennan's under former Haven chef Randy Evans. Recently, Fine has been serving at Bobby Matos's sous chef at River Oaks restaurant State of Grace.
“It’s time now for me to be a teacher, ” said Shepherd in a statement. “I will teach my staff to run these restaurants at the highest level. I’ll be there to guide them, but this is their chance to shine.”
In order to supervise both concepts, Shepherd announced that he's purchased a bicycle and will use it to travel back and forth between both spots. Given that plan, it's no wonder the restaurant will close annually in August to undergo renovations to flip to its next concept.
Ly, a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Rising Star Chef of the Year nominee, has worked at Underbelly for three years. Prior to that, he worked for Ryan Pera at both The Grove and Revival Market and spent time at Brasserie Max & Julie. Fine may be new to Shepherd's team, but he's looking forward to the opportunity.
“I’ve looked up to chef Chris for a long time,” said Fine. “I love his approach to food, how he sources, respects and prepares ingredients, but most importantly, I am so impressed by how he treats people and inspires everyone he comes in contact with. I can’t wait to bring a new perspective into his culinary world.”
The rest of Underbelly and One Fifth's key personnel will come from a series of internal promotions. Sommelier Matthew Pridgen will move into a wine director role for both concepts, and pastry chef Victoria Dearmond will oversee desserts in her role as pastry director. Longtime server Jeff Buhrer, who has worked with Shepherd at both Catalan and Underbelly, will be One Fifth's general manager.
Meanwhile, diners can get a glimpse of the future by following the restaurant on Instagram. If dishes like slow-braised goat neck and cast iron apple pie sound good, the wait for One Fifth's opening will feel long, but at least the team executing the dishes will be first class.