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Speaking off the toque: Michael Cordúa

Speaking off the toque:Michael Cordúa is the executive chef and owner of Américas[1800 Post Oak Boulevard, (713)961-1492], Amazon Grill[1800 Post Oak Boulevard, (713)599-0020] and Churrascos[9705 Westheimer, (713)952-1988; 2055 Westheimer, (713)527-8300; 1320 West Bay Area Boulevard, (281)461-4100].

Q. Have any reviews contained opinions or information that was helpful to you in improving a restaurant or your overall approach to a cuisine?

A. I read all the restaurant reviews that I can get my hands on, not just ours. If I know the reviewer to be a knowledgeable one, I definitely pay attention to what she/he found to her/his liking or disliking. Without losing your uniqueness, the reviews are like "weather forecasts" that help you navigate the restaurants through the waters of customer satisfaction. A good reviewer becomes like a prophet for the people, speaking on their behalf.

There are a couple of instances when a reviewer has altered our delivery of the food to the guests. One happened several years ago, when a reviewer complained that the busboy kept refilling her glass of iced tea. She found this annoying because it would mess up her "recipe." Just when she had the right amount of lemon and sweetener, he would come by and top off her glass. Since then, we bring you a fresh glass of iced tea rather than mess up your brew. We took that further and are sensitive to that in our coffee service as well.

Now a painful one: A few months after we opened the first Churrascos on Bissonnet, we had been receiving praises for everything we were doing, until one day a local paper did the same, praised us for everything except, and I quote, "a not-so-fresh fish from South America." I almost died. I immediately stopped buying from that purveyor and began what continues to this day to be a fanatical obsession with the quality of our seafood and all the ingredients we serve.

 
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