CHRIS LOFTIS is the new Executive Chef at The Pearl, the Sam Houston Hotel’s new restaurant and bar concept. Loftis has extensive culinary experience, having worked previously under the tutelage of well-known Houston chef Ronnie Killen at multiple Killen’s concepts. He credits his German grandmother with providing him the initial spark that jumpstarted his culinary passion. Loftis was born in Germany, but came to the United States at a very young age. He has honed his skills with stops at Skyline Bar and Grill, Killen’s Steakhouse, the House of Blues Foundation Room, Number 13 Prime Steak and Seafood and then an additional stop at Killen’s as Chef de Cuisine, before being selected to run the kitchen at The Pearl beginning in early 2017.
How’d you learn to cook? I went to The Art Institute of Houston, and I was lucky enough to work with some very patient and awesome people when I was younger. Thirteen years later, I am still learning. Pretty cool!
What’s the first recipe you ever mastered? That’s a tough one … I would say onion marmalade. When I was at the Skyline it seemed like I was always slicing onions and going downstairs to make it. I could probably still make it to this day. Ha!
What ingredient can you not live without in the kitchen and why? Vinegar. Any type of vinegar. It’s kind of like the savior for me. Missing something? Add vinegar.
What utensil can you not live without? A good seasoned pan. I have seen some pretty rough ones, and if you don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of you.
Favorite affordable wine? I am not a big wine snob. All I know is that I like Pinot Grigio, and I can find it at any gas station. Ha-ha!
Favorite place for dessert? Anywhere Samantha Mendoza or Alyssa Dole are.
Is there a food you won’t eat? Black olives.
What is your comfort food? Schnitzle, spaetzle and German potato salad.
What would be your last meal? Any curry or anything with cauliflower.
What do you see as the next food trend? I really hope the next trend is a lot more casual, laid-back places that you want to stay at for hours. Or some awesome breakfast spots.
At home, what do you keep on hand to serve drop-in guests? Anything I can grill. I love being outside.
What would people be surprised to find in your home refrigerator? The amount of leftover Chick-fil-A sauce.
Who are your favorite chef, restaurant and dish? Rene Redzepi. My favorite restaurant would be Maximo Bistro in Mexico City. Favorite dish would be Eleven Madison Park’s Tomato Salad. Crazy I know, but if you tried it you would know why.
Is there a particular food that is underappreciated? And what would you do to help its reputation?
I really think Brussels sprouts. I hear the same thing all the time. When I was growing up, they were too soft and bitter. It doesn’t have to be like that; add vinegar and bacon and they are absolutely amazing. #eatmorebrusselssprouts
1117 Prairie, at The Sam Houston Hotel | 832.200.8817