“Here in Texas, we are spoiled with the bounty from the Gulf of Mexico.
I love the sweet, firm snap wild-caught Texas shrimp offers in every bite! My job as a
chef is easier when using wild-caught Texas shrimp because the clean, sweet flavor gives
me the opportunity to combine many flavors.”
“Black-eyed peas, lady creamers, purple hull, cream crowder peas...”
Ask Chef Randy Evans what his favorite variety of peas is—or any other type of produce—and you will receive a passionate, knowledgeable list. Taking deep and competitive pride in
sourcing out the highest quality, fresh-from-the-earth product from local farmers and purveyors,
Evans often drives out to the farms during the day to handpick his produce from the
vine, soil or the back of a farmer’s pick up truck for that night’s meals.
The goal: to create dishes for his guests that are at their seasonal peak, offering
maximum flavor and freshness.
Haven, Evans’ latest culinary endeavor of which he serves as
executive chef and co-owner, was Houston’s most highly-anticipated restaurant opening
for 2009. The green-certified restaurant located at Houston’s 59/Kirby corridor
opened in December of 2009.
“Haven’s menu is farm-to-table, and what I call New Texas cuisine,”
says Evans, who was born in Houston and raised an hour north in Willis, Texas. “It
features favorite foods that I enjoyed as a child, but with new vision.” According to
Evans, the menu changes weekly, depending on what’s best in the fields that week. Everything
is local, fresh and handmade. A chef’s garden, just outside the kitchen, instills the
importance of utilizing only the freshest ingredients.
Evans, who grew up near his grandfather’s farm eating the freshest produce and vegetables and
watching his mother bake countless country desserts, had no intentions of becoming a chef. Instead,
he studied biology at Baylor University with the plan to become a doctor, like his sister. However,
after hosting numerous dinner parties and bragging about his latest antique cookbook find to
friends, he discovered that cooking in the kitchen was where he truly belonged.
While completing the culinary program at The Art Institute of Houston in 1996, Evans joined Brennan’s
of Houston, working his way through every station and rank in the kitchen. He was appointed executive
chef in November of 2003. Evans’ cookbook, The Kitchen Table (Bright Sky Press, November 2006,
$29.95) received the gold medal in the cookbook category at the 11th Annual Independent Publisher
Book Awards. The Kitchen Table features a plethora of recipes served over the past 15 years at
Brennan’s unique Kitchen Table, situated in the middle of its bustling kitchen. Evans’ other big
culinary interest lies in organic gardening.
“I knew a lot about gardening,
but wanted to learn more, so I recently completed a course on organic gardening offered by Urban
Harvest,” he said. “I want to teach my kitchen staff to have respect for the
food and ingredients we serve. Our chef’s garden will be a natural, sustainable
garden with no chemicals and cisterns to collect rain water.”
As for awards, Haven has many, including: Best New Restaurant in Houston by My Table magazine in October
2010, Top 20 Best New Restaurants in the Nation by Esquire magazine in November 2010, one of
five Best New Restaurants in the South by Southern Living in January 2011, Second Best New
Restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly in February 2011 and Best New Restaurant by the readers
of Houston Business Journal in May 2011.
Chef Evans also gives much of his time and energy to a number of philanthropic organizations
and events in the Houston area, such as: Recipe for Success, Urban Harvest, Texas Foodways, and
many more. Chef Evans also currently serves as a spokesman and consultant for the Texas Department
of Agriculture’s Shrimp Marketing Board and Texas Department of Forestry and Horticulture.