Andiron's hot new chef
One of this fall’s most eagerly anticipated new restaurants has found a leader for its kitchen. Andiron has named Louis Maldonado as its executive chef.
Owned by Sambrooks Management Company, the restaurant group behind barbecue favorite The Pit Room, Tex-Mex restaurant Candente, and Heights-area seafood concept 1751 Sea & Bar, Andiron will be a modern, live-fire steakhouse. Scheduled to open in December, it will be located at 3201 Allen Pkwy, which is the historic Star Engraving Company building that’s also home to BlendIn Coffee and Clarkwood, the lively bar that’s made a splash since its opening late last year.
SMC owner Michael Sambrooks tells CultureMap that the company found Maldonado after a national search. Although he had a brief run on the New Orleans season of Top Chef, what really stood out about chef Maldonado is that he earned one Michlein star in 2008 as the executive chef at Cortez restaurant in San Francisco. More recently, Maldonado has been working for Michigan’s Pulpo Group at the Dixboro Project, a three-concept venue in Ann Arbor.
“He’s got a record of building teams and achieving extremely high levels of success in the kitchen,” Sambrooks says about Maldonado. “He’s got some wood-burning experience. He likes cooking proteins . . . He’s willing to go on a deep dive into wood-burning techniques with us.”
That experience working with live fire will be essential at Andiron. As Sambrooks explains, the restaurant will serve simply prepared meat and seafood dishes with carefully-sourced, high quality ingredients.
“It’s a pretty deep dive into live fire techniques and sourcing.” he says. “It’s a very ingredient-driven concept. You’re not going to see 15 components on a plate.”
Sambrooks adds that he’ll be working with Maldonado and chef de cuisine Mario Da Silva to finalize the opening menu. He estimates they have six weeks to define the menu’s different sections, establish seasonal dishes, and develop the recipes the kitchen will use. For his part, Maldonado is ready to get started.
“Andiron’s commitment to only the best in terms of the room, service. and cuisine aligns with where I want to be,” Maldonado said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to deliver Andiron to the diners of Houston. I also look forward to settling into Houston, an area where I have friends and family close by.”