Courtesy of Food Network

Another Houston-area chef has joined the roster of local Chopped champions. Jassi Bindra, the chef and partner of Indian fine dining restaurant Amrina in The Woodlands, won the episode titled “Oh My Squash” that first aired on Tuesday, August 15.

Bindra tells CultureMap that the show’s casting team initially reached out to him via Instagram. After an audition, they offered him a spot on the show.

“What made me choose this is I think it’s a great platform for competing, I wanted to challenge myself,” he says. “It’s a platform to represent my talent and my cuisine on the show.”

In the episode, he competed against Morgan Ferguson, a private chef in Maryland; Emilie Rose Bishop, a chef from Massachusetts; and Rachel McGill, a James Beard Award semifinalist from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Faced with an appetizer basket that consisted of brick French toast, spicy peanut butter, watermelon radish, and sardines, Bindra puts his spin on a Mirchi Wala, an Indian stuffed pepper filled with a mix of mushrooms and sardines. Although the judges criticized Bindra’s dish for being too large, they chopped Ferguson for his poorly-executed panzanella salad.

Bindra hit his stride in the entree round, turning a basket of potato chip omelet, pea greens, Korean style short ribs, and cherry cola into grilled short ribs with wilted Brussels sprouts and pea green salad, a cherry cola and coconut sauce, and an egg mousse.

“Really delicious,” judge Eric Adjepong raved. I loved the way you treated the pea greens. They’re cooked. They still have bite to it. The short ribs . . . have a beautiful char on the outside.”

The judges chopped Bishop for her poorly executed short rib taco. Bindra says he took the feedback he received in round one and applied it to his entree.

“I heard the judges say focus on timing. I heard what they were saying and focused on my dishes,” he says. Also, he knew he had to execute a beef challenge properly. “I have to go back to Texas. I cannot mess up my meat.”

For the dessert round, Bindra prepared a dish that utilized a giant fortune cookie, blue hubbard squash, gooseberries, and camel milk. He prepared a rabri, an Indian dish made with sweetened condensed milk paired with candied squash and gooseberries.

“Rabri takes hours to cook,” judge Maneet Chauhan tells Bindra. “I don’t know how you managed to do this, but this is absolutely delicious. The rabri is spot on.”

To create some drama, the judges note that the candied squash didn’t add much to the dish. Still, they ultimately round his overall effort stronger than McGill’s, whose squash custard didn’t set properly.

Winning brings a sense of accomplishment and a $10,000 prize. Bindra says he intends to donate some of the winnings to the Make A Wish Foundation. The rest will be allocated to purchasing more kitchen tools, expanding his palate by dining out, and a celebratory dinner with friends. Ultimately, he thinks he stood above his competitors for a number of reasons.

“I wanted to showcase my style,” he says. “My techniques were unique, and I brought them to the ingredients I was given.”

Other Houston chefs to win episodes of the show include Erin Smith (Feges BBQ), Justin Turner (Bocca Italian Kitchen), Shannen Tune (Craft Burger), and Evelyn Garcia (Jun).

Jassi Bindra beat the baskets.

Jassi Bindra Chopped
Courtesy of Food Network
Jassi Bindra beat the baskets.
The Bear/Facebook

Justin Yu dishes on must-see food show The Bear, plus a chat with the chef totally smashing it in the Heights

What's Eric Eating Episodes 294 and 295

On this week's first episode of "What's Eric Eating," CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler mixes things up a bit. Instead of talking about the latest Houston restaurant news, he speaks with chef Justin Yu about season two of The Bear, the FX TVshow set in a Chicago restaurant.

Yu begins the conversation by explaining why he wanted to discuss the show. "I think this TV show more than any other TV show about restaurants and chefs and cooks had the most accurate depiction of what it's like to work at a restaurant — and maybe a restaurant that's aiming to be a high-end, fine dining, maybe charge a little more money type of restaurant and the types of people who work in it," he says. "I think it's important to point out all the detail work that they did for both season one and season two. Even little things like they're drinking out of quart containers, the importance of sitting down for staff meal. I thought it was a really interesting dynamic between how someone came into working in the restaurant industry and hoping to cook at a fine dining level and how their life nuanced its way into open a restaurant."

From there, they break down several key moments in the season, including the idea of eating at other restaurants in search of inspiration, how Marcus's experience staging in Copenhagen matches up with Yu's, learning about front of house at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and the stresses of getting ready for an opening. Spoilers happen throughout the conversation, so don't tune in until you've finished all 10 episodes.

In the restaurant of the week segment, Yu and Sandler discuss their recent meal at Josephine's Gulf Coast Tradition, the new seafood restaurant from the owners of Kata Robata. They find a lot to like about chef Lucas McKinney's menu, which pulls from his Mississippi roots as well as Louisiana classics and Texas favorites. Tune in to hear which dishes they liked most and which they're less likely to order again.

On this week's second episode, Sandler talks to chef Sunny Vohra. The Indian-American chef discusses the career path that led him to his current role as the proprietor of two concepts in the Railway Heights Market food hall — smash burger restaurant the Meat & Cheese Project and Sichuan hot chicken concept Thunderbirds HTX.

During the conversation, Vohra shares the lessons he learned while working at Indian fine dining restaurant Kiran's, the surprising reason he and his wife moved to Houston, and discusses his experience opening Margeaux's Oyster Bar in Bravery Chef Hall. Ultimately, he and Sandler talk about Meat & Cheese, which utilizes beef blends that Vohra grinds in-house. Sandler asks the chef about his decision to include whole butter in his mixture.

"Because we're doing a smash burger, I need a higher fat content. If I add butter into the grind, I can create a super flavorful, juicy, and crispy smash burger, because of the amount of fat that's in there," he says. "Once I introduce butter, I have two layers of fat flavor going on, one that's rendering quicker than the other. You have the butter that's ground into it — almost like it's frying and basting — and the brisket rendering. The amount of clean juice coming off the burger, you'd have to see it."

The Bear cast photo

Tuesday's episode is all The Bear season two.


Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. Listen to it Saturdays at 2 pm on ESPN 97.5.

Photo by Pop Studios PR

Blooming Bellaire cafe gets edged out by Philly eatery on Good Morning America's big breakfast battle finale

a winner in our hearts

A Bellaire restaurant came up a little short in its quest to serve America’s best breakfast. Although Good Morning America did not select Dandelion Cafe’s chicken and waffle as the winner of its United States of Breakfast competition, the restaurant stood tall on the national stage.

A panel of celebrity judges — consisting of lifestyle expert Carson Kressley, Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran, chef Leah Cohen, and TV food personality Adam Richman — awarded the title, and a check for $10,000, to the pastrami, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich prepared by Philadelphia restaurant Middle Child.

Represented by its owners, husband-and-wife chef JC Ricks and founder Sarah Lieberman, Dandelion earned a vote from Corcoran. Richman waffled (sorry) between Dandelion and Middle Child before siding with Kressley and voting for the pastrami sandwich.

“I’m a Brooklyn guy. I practice the Jew-craft. I’m telling you, the pastrami — for me to give Philly love on pastrami, it’s remarkable,” Richman said during the segment.

Boston’s North Street Grill earned Cohen’s vote for its Banana Bourbon French Toast. Cleveland’s Grumpy’s Cafe served a breakfast hash.

As a reminder, Dandelion advanced to the competition’s finals by besting Midtown favorite The Breakfast Klub in a chicken and waffle battle. Chef Ricks tells CultureMap that he created his recipe — a cornbread-buttermilk waffle that’s topped with a spicy maple butter and paired with a 24-hour marinated chicken that’s breaded in a mix of rice and all-purpose flour — specifically for the show. Dandelion has been serving (and selling out of) its chicken and waffle all week.

"We may not have taken home the grand prize, but we still consider this journey and surreal experience to be a huge win for us," Ricks said in a statement "We are extremely proud to represent our city in front of the country and hold the title of best breakfast in Houston, and it's absolutely a win in our book to be in the top four breakfast spots in America. We can't wait to get back to Houston to serve you all."

Dandelion is poised to build on the momentum of this week's media attention. The restaurant has identified a location in the Heights that will allow it to expand to a second location. Details on the address and timing will be released in the coming weeks.

Dandelion Cafe Good Morning America

Photo by Pop Studios PR

Owners JC Ricks and Sarah Lieberman represented Dandelion Cafe.

Watch the whole segment in the clip below:

Photo by Eric Sandler

Chris Shepherd hosts new TV show spotlighting local hot spots, hidden gems, and personalities

Chris Shepherd's TV show

Chef Chris Shepherd has always guided people to his favorite restaurants around town. When he owned Underbelly, every diner would leave with a list of restaurant recommendations with the gentle suggestion that they not return to Shepherd’s place until they’d visited at least one of the establishments that influenced it.

Beginning in September, the James Beard Award winner and co-founder of the Southern Smoke Foundation will have a much larger platform to share his favorite places. Shepherd has partnered with local TV station KPRC 2 to produce Eat Like a Local, a TV show that will, in the station’s words “spotlight the Greater Houston area’s diverse food culture, culinary hotspots, and hidden gems that make our city unique.” The name is similar to Cook Like a Local, his Beard Award-nominated cookbook that shared recipes for many of Underbelly’s signature dishes.

Scheduled to debut September 16 at 10 am, the show will take viewers behind the scenes with chefs, farmers, and other people who make Houston’s food scene one of the best in America.

Rather than a cooking show, Shepherd will interview the people that inspire him and visit the places that are important to him — everywhere from barbecue joints and Tex-Mex restaurants to crawfish farms and oyster reefs.

“I want to know the stories of people and the why [behind] their dishes and what made them think of doing it this way,” Shepherd tells CultureMap. “Could be anywhere from a Tex-Mex restaurant to a traditional central Mexican restaurant to barbecue to crawfish to burgers. Just venturing out into our city.”

Shepherd has been filming steadily throughout Houston. It’s taken him to some of his favorites like Candente and Saigon Pagolac but also to new spots.

“The more conversations you have about food, the better you are with it. You get to see and try new things,” he says. “My biggest fun part is going to shoot new places that I haven’t been to. Just learning why. I think that’s a very important question to ask is why.”

In the year since Shepherd parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, the local restaurant group behind restaurants such as luxurious steakhouse Georgia James and Texas comfort food restaurant Wild Oats, he’s served as an ambassador for the Southern Smoke Foundation, done some consulting for clients in California, and started writing about wine for CultureMap. Hosting Eat Like a Local will add to his growing portfolio.

KPRC 2 has posted a few preview stories on its website. Watch the trailer for Eat Like a Local below:


Good Morning America crowns Bellaire cafe local winner of 'United States of Breakfast' competition

winner winner, chicken — and waffles

Houston has a new king of chicken and waffles. Good Morning Americaselected Dandelion Cafe as the winner of its “United States of Breakfast” competition.

Held on the morning of Monday, June 26 at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the battle featured Midtown favorite The Breakfast Klub competing with Dandelion Cafe, the Bellaire coffee shop and cafe that opened in 2016, in a chicken and waffle showdown. A panel of judges — including Food Network star Eddie Jackson, ABC13 report Erica Simon, and former Houston Texans star Owen Daniels — picked the winner.

Represented by owner Marcus Davis, The Breakfast Klub served its classic, Creole-spiced chicken and waffle that has been a Houston favorite for more than 20 years. Dandelion Cafe owners Sarah Lieberman and chef J.C. Ricks countered with a cornbread waffle and chorizo-spiced fried chicken that they topped with a spicy maple compound butter and dusted with powdered sugar.

“Two totally different chicken and waffles, [Dandelion] has more of a sweet and heat combination, and this compound butter with a little chili kick is everything,” Jackson said.

By a two-to-one vote, the judges selected Dandelion to advance to the finals on Friday in New York City, where they’ll compete with winners from Cleveland, Boston, and Philadelphia. The winner will take home $10,000.

Last year, Good Morning America selected Trill Burgers as the winner of its “Ultimate Burger Spot” in a similar, four-city battle. The victory helped pave the way for the smash burger concept’s recent brick and mortar opening.

Watch the full segment below:

\u200bChef JC Ricks, Sarah Lieberman, and daughter Juniper win the golden cup on Good Morning America.

Chef JC Ricks, Sarah Lieberman, and daughter Juniper win the golden cup on Good Morning America.

Courtesy of Fox News

Top-rated morning show celebrates Opening Day at Heights burger joint

as seen on tv

The most watched morning show in cable news will be in Houston this week. Fox & Friends will present its “Breakfast with Friends” segments from Christian’s Tailgate in the Heights (2820 White Oak Drive) this Thursday, March 30, from 5-8 am.

The show’s topics are expected to center around Opening Day for Major League Baseball, the NCAA Final Four that’s taking place in Houston this weekend, and other news of the day, according to a representative. Members of the public are invited to attend the broadcast.

Fox Nation host Abby Hornacek will be in Houston where she’ll speak with a number of local guests, including Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale.

“I couldn't be more excited to be in Houston, the home of the reigning World Series champs, where the buzz of last year's Fall Classic is surely still echoing ahead of the first pitch of the 2023 season,” Hornacek says in a statement. “I'm looking forward to talking to sports fans about their expectations for the upcoming season and what brings them to Opening Day in Houston. We'll be there to gauge the level of enthusiasm as all 30 MLB teams get ready to take the field across the country.”

For its part, Christian’s will feature a breakfast-oriented menu of specials that includes chilaquiles, breakfast tacos, a breakfast burger, and chicken and waffles. Those who want a more traditional ballpark experience may opt for hot dogs and fries. The restaurant will also offer $2 mimosas and free coffee from Slowpokes, the local coffee shop and cafe that recently opened its fourth location in West University Place.

In February, Fox announced that Fox & Friends has held its status as the top-rated morning show on cable news for 100 consecutive weeks, drawing an average of more than 1.2 million viewers. Given its popularity, expect an enthusiastic crowd to show up on Thursday.

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Mega-celebrity photographer of Beyoncé's all-time favorite portrait holds court in Houston to honor Queen Bey

royal portraits

Only a select few humans — ever — have been photographed as often as pop culture’s undisputed queen, Beyoncé, over her illustrious, 26-year career. Even at her young age, Houston’s queen possesses a singular trait that elevates her above even the most apex celebrities: immortality.

Just how do the ultra-famous unlock the loftiest achievement of immortality? For many, it’s often through a single, transcendent photograph, which can transform a performer into an icon — and rocket a mere mortal into immortal status. And few photographers on the planet can bestow immortality on the globally famous like A-list artisan Markus Klinko.

To celebrate Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour homecoming — and his now legendary photos of her over the years — Klinko will meet fans from 1 pm to 3 pm Saturday, September 23 at Tootsies for a showcase of some of his most famed works — including the ultra-rare Beyoncé “Diamond Dust” series, on view at Nicole Longnecker Gallery.

A statuesque, towering presence (he’s six-foot-four) with chiseled features and a flair for fashion, the Swiss-born Klinko looks every part a celeb himself. That star quality has no doubt helped him break the ice when photographing superstars like our Beyoncé, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Naomi Campbell, and Iman — to name a few. Not a bad resume for a former professional classical harp soloist who — sort of amazingly — only fell into photography after a hand injury (more on that later).

Before she became a one-word brand, Beyoncé Knowles was just 22 when she experienced Klinko’s wizardry firsthand in 2003. Already drawing It Girl attention as a member of Destiny’s Child, the young Houstonian had met Klinko during a Destiny’s Child photo shoot for Vibe magazine in 2000. With his trademark, sixth-sense for superstardom, Klinko pointed to Beyoncé while she was lounging with the group and told her mother, Tina Knowles, “Her, she’s going to be huge.” Tina’s response: “We know.”

Three years later, Sony reunited Beyoncé and Klinko to shoot the cover of Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé’s now legendary 2003 debut solo album. The match, now, seems predestined: both Beyoncé and Knowles were in the early stages of their careers. Beyoncé and Klinko vibed immediately, and in a simple snap of his Fuji camera, Klinko shot the stunning and shimmering photo that Queen Bey recently told French newspaper Le Figaro is her most favorite of any portrait taken of her.

Staying true to his organic, in-the-moment approach, Klinko flawlessly captured Beyoncé’s effortless pose in her now-famed diamond top and created one of music’s most iconic celebrity photos and yes, helped cement Beyoncé’s immortal status. And it only cost him his pants. (More on that later, too.)

CultureMap caught up with Klinko ahead of his Houston appearance and fresh off the opening of his latest installation: His celebrity images are on display at the legendary Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino in, naturally, the vaunted Elvis Presley Suite. Perfect timing, then, for Klinko to star as a cover model in the familiar Tootsies window displays.

CultureMap: Congratulations on landing the Tootsies window display. It looks gorgeous.

Markus Klinko: Oh yeah, it’s spectacular, isn’t it?

CM: Quite! So, what’s it like seeing yourself as one of the main features of an exhibit — as opposed to being behind the camera?

MK: You know, I’ve never been in the window of a major fashion department store, so this is pretty fun.

CM: Never in the window, but you’ve certainly been the focal point of attention as an acclaimed harpist.

MK: Yes, I started my life on the ‘other’ side, and as you say, as a classical concert harpist. I was signed to EMI Classics and represented by Colombia Artists and traveling around the world making recordings. I was on television very often and on magazine covers and all that throughout my 20s and early 30s — everything from Italian Vogue and Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar and GQ and all those fashion magazines for which I later worked as a photographer. So it’s not completely. new. But this is sort of a different twist.

CM: You clearly had an understanding of being in the spotlight, and the butterflies-in-the-stomach pressure to put on a great performance and give of yourself to an audience. Did that experience help you relate to your celebrity performer subjects in a way that just maybe a Mark Seliger or an Annie Leibovitz — not disparaging either — could not? Do you have a window into these performers’ worlds where they relate to you, and you to them?

MK: You know, that’s an amazing question and I’m glad you’re asking me this.

I switched from my classical music career, which was very successful at that time, to becoming a photographer at 33 under dramatic circumstances. It was tragic; basically a hand injury forced me to abandon my career at the height of my success in the summer of 1994.

I was forced to cancel recording sessions, touring engagements and all of that. I had no clue where my income would be coming from, so it was not like the happiest moment in my life. It was actually sort of a panic-stricken time.

CM: And then came the moment.

MK: Yes, I had this epiphany that I will become a fashion photographer, actually had no intention at all to ever become a celebrity photographer. In the beginning of my photo career, I was 100-percent interested only in shooting models — mainly female models to be honest. I would have liked to be a Playboy magazine photographer or something.

So in other words, I just wanted to have fun. It was the last thought on my mind to help other musicians succeed.

CM: You almost seem like you were dragged into fashion and celebrity photography.

MK: A few years into my photo career, around 1999, I was still completely focused on shooting models, models, models. I wasconfronted with proposals from record labels and magazines to shoot covers for them. And I distinctly remember telling my agent at the time that I was not interested and that why would I shoot musicians, when I could just shoot models who are more beautiful in general. And that was that.

CM: And how did that go over?

MK: At some point my agent picked up the phone and screamed at me and said, ‘Markus, you’re an idiot! We have record companies wanting to pay you $100,000 a day and you would rather shoot some girl.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine, I’ll try it.’ My first record cover shoot was Vitamin C; at that moment she had the biggest hit of the year.

I asked my friends from Interview magazine to style it and she was lovely and I had no problem with it. But about a month later, I got up in the morning and I went to the gym. As I walked through the streets of New York, there were thousands and thousands of posters of Vitamin. I saw my image of Vitamin C a million times on the way to the gym. And I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s not so bad.’

A couple of months later, GQ called me from the UK and wanted me to shoot these different celebrities. And I told GQ — it was very funny — I said under one condition, I’ll shoot the celebrity you want me to shoot, but I want you to let me shoot some nude girl for the centerfold of GQ. And they just said, ‘Okay, whatever you want.’ So I invented the GQ Pin Up 2000 and for a whole year as a reward of shooting some British pop star girl for them — who I couldn’t care less but whatever, I did it. But then I shot Little Kim and Molly Sims and a bunch of really big models and supermodels.

CM: And then you shoot the world’s biggest supermodel, Iman, for her book, which leads to shooting a rock god David Bowie — her husband — for his now-famous album cover [Heathens, 2002] in 2001. Talk about a word-of-mouth reference.

MK: By that time, I was already inundated with. requests from labels. I shot nonstop for different labels and then Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez. That all came as a reaction basically to that first celebrity shoot with Vitamin C, and I guess just my style. The way I shot models was very different from what was in fashion at the time. I just sort of did my own thing. And that really appealed to major advertising record covers, iconic photo shoots, big comeback shoots for artists like Mariah. Mariah really needed a big comeback shoot in 2005 when she launched The Emancipation of Mimi.

CM: Let’s go back to that magical moment in 2003 when you shot perhaps the most legendary photo of Beyoncé ever.

MK: Sony music called me and they said, 'Beyonce from Destiny’s Child is going solo and she requested you shoot her album cover. Apparently, you had worked with her before for Destiny’s Child and she wanted to only work with you for this.'

So then, Sony Music organized a phone call between me, Beyoncé, the Sony team, and her mom Tina [Knowles] who was styling it. Beyoncé on the phone mentioned specifically my photograph of Leticia Costa, the French supermodel and actor in the "Spider Web" shot. And she said she really loved that photo — She called it the Diamond Spider or something. And she said she would love something like that, but smaller on her. And to be honest, I had no idea what that meant, but I was just like, 'Okay.'

Fast forward to a week later when the photo shoot actually happened and they arrived in the morning. I noticed that there was this diamond top and I grabbed it and I went up to Beyoncé. I said, 'This is exactly what you were talking about. We could do this.' And then she said, 'Oh yeah, I was thinking about it, but my mom has these skirts and I don’t wanna wear those because it reminds me of a prom and I don’t wanna look like a prom on my album cover.'

And I said, 'Yeah, of course not. Let’s do it with denim.' And then Beyonce said, 'No, we don’t have any, we didn’t bring any denim.'

CM: And then...?

MK: And so I said, 'Oh, don’t worry, maybe you’ll fit into mine.' And she said, 'Oh, really? Can I try them?' And so that’s the story.

CM: I’m guessing you had another pair handy?

MK: Oh, sure, I just grabbed another pair from upstairs I had. You know, back then and until now, my favorite pair of jeans are always DNG — Dolce & Gabbana.

CM: I love the story of how she returned them to you.

MK: She brought them back a couple months later. She had dry cleaned them and she packed them into some sort silk paper thing and a ribbon. She brought him back and said, 'Please don’t sell them on eBay, ever.' And she laughed.

I thought that was really sweet and I just took them and I put them somewhere. This is crazy, but I’m actually talking to Botswana Diamond Dealers to fill up a bathtub at the Vegas suite and to put those Beyoncé jeans into the bling bathtub as a joke. You know, almost as a shrine.

CM: Markus, it certainly seems to me that right when you looked through the viewer and fired off that exposure, she went from Beyoncé Knowles from Houston, Texas to the immoral global brand all in one second.

MK: You are right, yes. Absolutely she did. I had a jolt in my, in my whole body when that moment happened. And I told her that right then as soon as I clicked that shot. I said, 'We got the cover, you’ll see.' There's alternate shots of that, which are all beautiful, and some of them will be in Houston.

CM: It seems you predicted her future while announcing her to the world. Is that fair to say?

MK: Well, the way I see it is with that image, I sort of anticipated who Beyoncé was going to become. I think that my job that day was to take a young girl from Houston, Texas, a member of an R&B group, and present to the world who she will be. And she would have become that regardless of whatever I did photographically, because she’s such an enormous, enormously talented musician and performer and icon. She’s a great actress. But, my opportunity was to showcase to the world quickly and immediately who she will be. And so that’s what I’m proud of.

CM: You have shot countless celebrity portraits — many the most memorable of said celebrity, like Britney Spears. How does it feel to hear that your 2003 shot is Queen Bey’s favorite of all time?

MK: The fact that Beyoncé is probably the biggest celebrity in the world today, and having photographed the most famous photo — of the most famous celebrity — is an honor that I take with great humility. I’m not saying that to show off — I’m saying that to thank God for the opportunity. I am glad that Beyoncé loves the photo so much. I’m glad that the world recognizes it as her most famous photo: It's been said many, many times that it is the most recognizable Beyoncé photo. So I'm very honored that people feel that way about it.

CM: What do you remember of the Beyoncé then, and the Beyoncé you've worked with since for other projects?

MK: I remember Beyoncé and being around her, seeing her as an extremely kind, very humble, very normal person. I’ve never felt any sort of diva behavior from her. Beyoncé was just really, really nice and normal. And she’s extremely hardworking, obviously extremely talented, not just with music and singing and acting, but also in the process of collaboration of a visual product such as these photographs I’ve done with her. She’s a very, very good collaborator.

There are people who are very famous, especially actors who sometimes, in front of the still camera, feel awkward. Sometimes comedians and actors need the movement, the momentum, the storytelling, the words in order to showcase their brilliance and their talent.

Not everyone is able in a 2/50th of a second to express all of that, but Beyoncé certainly has that incredible ability and I think that’s innate and subconscious and subliminal. She just knows where the light is coming from and she knows how to position it all in the most phenomenal way. And I guess I subliminally know how to catch it. So it’s really one of those very, very easy collaborations.

CM: Speaking of collaborations, you are able to crystallize a pop icon’s entire era in a single exposure unlike perhaps anyone I’ve ever seen. Did you know that Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lizzo are all from Houston — they all grew up just a mere 30 minutes from each other.

MK: Wow, I did not know that.

CM: Yes, we’re home to three of the biggest female pop stars in the world. So I wonder: Megan Thee Stallion is truly in the midst of her moment. Is she someone you’d like to shoot next?

MK: Well, let me answer it this way...I hope that Megan reads your interview, because I absolutely love Megan and I would love to work with her — and they should call me. I love her.

CM: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask: What is your favorite Beyoncé song?

MK: Oh, I would say “Crazy In Love” is one of my favorites. There are obviously many, but I'm probably biased to that album. That's one of my proudest collaborations, so, of course, I’m biased. Can you blame me? [Laughs]

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Beyonc\u00e9 Dangerously in Love

Courtesy of Markus Klinko

Markus Klinko captured Beyoncé's favorite portrait in 2003 for her Dangerously in Love debut solo album.

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Countdown to Beyoncé: Trill Burgers shortens hours to serve massive NRG Stadium crowd

respect the beyhive

Since it opened in June, Trill Burgers has been unstoppable. Bun B’s burger joint has seen lines out the door, fed celebrities ranging from Drake to Mike Tyson, and caused literal traffic jams with its drive-thru.

But even a juggernaut like Trill Burgers knows better than to mess with the Beyhive. For this weekend only (September 23 and 24), the Montrose-area restaurant will only be open from 11 am to 2 pm. Operating with such limited hours will allow Trill Burgers to feed the sold out crowds flocking to NRG Stadium for Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour.

“We want to make sure that we have our stations fully stocked so that people don't miss this amazing show that she's bringing,” Bun said in a video posted to social media. “We know the Beyhive don't play and Trill Burgers don't play either.”

In order to ensure people get their burgers as quickly as possible, Trill Burgers is slimming down its menu to only serve beef burgers — sorry, vegans. In addition, it will impose a limit of two burgers per person.

Due to the stage setup, Trill Burgers will only operate two of its usual four stands. They are Sections 135 and 548.

Of course, CultureMap has you covered for everything related to this weekend’s concerts. Don’t miss our guides for what to wear, events celebrating Beyoncé, and the latest traffic and parking info.

Countdown to Beyoncé: Parking, closures, rideshares, and more for NRG Stadium

bey prepared

The countdown is on for Beyoncé's highly anticipated shows in Houston this weekend, and ABC13 has everything you need to know for an easy ride over to NRG Stadium to see Queen Bey.

This weekend's gridlock alert isn't like any other, as more traffic is anticipated than usual in the South Loop area towards the venue on both Saturday and Sunday.

Here's what you need to know:


Drivers, if you decide to park directly at NRG Stadium, know all lots will have $40 cashless parking.

Parking is available in the orange, red, maroon, blue, yellow, green and purple lots. ADA parking is available in all of the lots.

If you're getting a ride, you can get dropped off and picked up at the Yellow Lot. The entrance will be through Gate 16B off Main Street.

METRORail riders can take the Red Line from the Fannin South Lot, which has $20 parking, and get off at the Stadium Park/Astrodome Station exit.EMBED <>MORE VIDEOS

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But what about getting there on time?

If you're driving in from Fort Bend County or the southwest side, the Southwest Freeway will be closed at the West Loop, so you might want to avoid that.

All mainlanes will be closed starting Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m. You can use US-90 as your alternate route.

For those coming from the east side, including San Jacinto and all points beyond that along the East Freeway, avoid the East Loop altogether.

You'll see northbound and southbound closures between Market and Clinton Street from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Sunday.

So, for Saturday night's concert, you can drive toward downtown and south on Highway 288 to catch the West Loop over to NRG Stadium.

If you plan to use METRO to head to NRG, they plan to put more of their trains in service about three hours before the start of Beyoncé's concerts each day.


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