“In the end, I always felt that simple meals realized with a direct approach and a sense of tradition was what good cooking was all about. ‘A meal is a measure of the locality’ was an idea that appealed to me. And the locality was Texas and, more precisely, Houston.”
“I strived to develop a cooking style that incorporated the many local influences of Houston. Texas BBQ traditions and lore had an immediate allure, as did Mexican cooking; but Thai and Vietnamese cooking had by that time established a strong foothold in Houston. Along with some other Texas chefs, this pursuit of Texas cooking became recognized as Southwest Cuisine. It was celebrated all over the country (as well as copied all over the country). I suppose we should all be flattered. Some nice dishes came out of those years that gained national acclaim – the Crab Tostada, the Black Bean Terrine, the Coffee Roasted Filet of Beef, the Cilantro Mussel Soup, the Rabbit Enchilada. The catalogue is even longer now. And all the awards – from a James Beard Award to Who’s Who in American Cooking to, just recently, being named #53 on the 101 best restaurants in the US by The Daily Meal – are wonderful. But still, a nice piece of beef or a fillet of fish and a glowing wood fire is all I really need. Some coarse salt and a wedge of lime would be nice.”
Robert Del Grande, Executive Chef
Chef Robert Del Grande was born in 1954. He received his BS in Chemistry and Biology from the University of San Francisco in 1976 and his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California at Riverside in 1980. In 1981, while courting his future wife Mimi, Chef ventured to Houston where Mimi was visiting her sister and brother-in-law, who had opened Cafe Annie two years earlier. They needed a chef. Robert began experimenting in the kitchen and soon thereafter, became the Executive Chef and partner. In 1996, Great Chefs returned to Houston where Chef Del Grande had opened a second restaurant, Rio Ranch. This time he prepared an appetizer Spicy Shrimp with Avocado Salsa and Fried Tortilla Chips and two entrées, Country Style Pork Ribs and Cinnamon Roasted Chicken. In 1986, Great Chefs were in Houston and taped Robert at Cafe Annie for their Great Chefs of the West series. It was the epicenter when Southwestern cuisine shook up the American dining scene. He prepared three dishes, an appetizer Cream of Cilantro Soup with Mussels, an entrée of Grilled Squab (that almost burned the restaurant down), and a Chocolate Cake dessert. In May of 2009, Cafe Annie closed and two months later in July “Restaurant RDG” (initials of the chef) opened a few blocks away. Chef Robert and his brother-in-law, Lonnie Schiller, have been founders and partners in other ventures, like Cafe Express and Taco Milagro. Still, he finds time to play in his band “The Barbwires” with Dallas Great Chef Dean Fearing. And the awards keep coming at him, one of the latest was that he was named in 2013 as “One of the Coolest People in Food”.
1800 Post Oak Boulevard,