What's Eric Eating Episodes 316 and 317
Meet the dynamic duo behind the MFAH's French fine dining restaurant, plus our visit to Balboa Surf Club
On this week’s interview episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” chef Alain Verzeroli and Felipe Botero join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Le Jardinier. Developed by Verzeroli, the French fine dining restaurant celebrates vegetables with seasonal menus that draw upon local ingredients.
The conversation begins with Verzeroli explaining how his first meal at a two-star Michelin restaurant inspired him to enter the world of professional cooking. Ultimately, he came to be employed by legendary French chef Joël Robuchon where Verzeroli would earn three Michelin stars as the executive chef of Le Restaurant de Joël Robuchon in Tokyo. He tells the incredible story of how he came to work for Robuchon, and, as he explains in the interview, how spending almost 20 years in Japan inspired him to create Le Jardinier.
“What I learned in Japan is respect for nature. They celebrate the sakura, the cherry blossom, the autumn leaves falling from the trees,” he says. “They have a sense of having a picnic to celebrate the cherry trees that only lasts a couple of days at most. Pausing the crazy rhythm of life just to be in tune with nature. For me, it was something I was discovering, this link to the rhythm of nature. That’s the reason I created Le Jardinier — to be more in sync with nature.”
Chefs Felipe Botero and Alain Verzeroli are this week's guests.Photo by Alex Montoya
Listen to the full interview to hear Verzeroli’s opinion on whether the Michelin guide should begin evaluating Texas restaurants. Botero offers insights into the restaurant’s day-to-day operations and previews its newly launched happy hour menu.
On this week’s news episode, Sandler and co-host Felice Sloan discuss the following topics: the Houston restaurants included in the New York Times’s latest list; the closures of Kim Son’s Stafford location and Pho Binh by Night; and the latest delays in the reopening of Montrose staple Baba Yega.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Sloan and Sandler share first impressions of Balboa Surf Club, the new seafood restaurant from the Dallas-based restaurant group behind il Bracco. After discussing their favorite dishes, they weigh in on when they would choose to dine at Balboa versus Navy Blue and Little’s Oyster Bar.