Homemade pickles, Chutneys made from scratch and adobe oven-roasted coffee are all things we can agree sound amazing. But as tasty as they are, they also come with the idea of rigorous labor — so why do Houston chefs bother to make them?
Most chefs, like Ryan Pera of Revival Market, agree that there is no greater joy than to follow a project from start to finish.
Aside from supporting local farms and products at Revival, Pera goes to great lengths to churn out his own products like pickled watermelon rind, oak-aged soy sauce and natural mustards.
“Nobody would be a chef if they weren’t willing to go the extra mile,” Pera said. “If you are willing to do this, then you’ve got to go all the way.”
Restaurant owners Anita Jaisinghani and Jamie Zelko of Pondicheri Café and Zelko Bistro, are firm believers in purchasing locally-produced, sustainable products, getting the most out of each ingredient, and giving customers an idea of what can be done with a little hard-earned knowledge and a few simple culinary touches. The end result is nothing short of delicious.
Jaisinghani uses her impressive grasp of Indian cuisine, along with local ingredients, to make a series of unique seasonal chutneys and pickled products like her signature Cheri Tomato Catsup or spicy chili pickles.
Chef Jamie Zelko has a desire to educate people with food and takes the time to personally create and package her own line of marmalades, preserves, special coffee blends and pickled goods — all of which are utilized in the kitchen and sold in the store.
Places like Sammy’s Wild Game Grill and La Guadalupana Bakery and Café believe in carefully listening to feedback when it comes to keeping customers happy, which is what drove them to increase the number of items sold in their stores.
Chef Sammy Ballarin opened Sammy’s Wild Game Grill with the purpose of serving exotic meats in familiar forms, like burgers and sausages, or his famous rattlesnake chili cheese fries. These game meats are accompanied by a slew of sauces like Cilantro Aioli and Ghost Pepper chili sauce; Ballarin is planning to sell his sauces in-house within the next few months.
Owned by the Diaz family, The Guadalupana Bakery and Café began selling wholesale cakes and eventually turned into a full-service café that serves food and
pastries which are considered to be some of the most authentic traditional Mexican fare in the city.
One classic staple sold at the Guadalupana is Café de Olla, a roasted coffee bean infused with cinnamon. The Diaz family roasts the beans in Mexico and imports hundreds of pounds at a time to be sold here in Houston.
While some people might think this is a sudden culinary trend, it is more a revival of the cornerstone of what it means to be a chef — which is to feed the people.