Pope: The Garden Gourmet

At the Midtown Farmers' Market, which is held on Saturday mornings in the parking lot of Monica Pope's restaurant, T'afia, organic farmers, bread bakers, coffee roasters and custom chocolate makers gather around their leader, Monica Pope. A passionate advocate of the "garden-to-table movement" and a charter member of the progressive Chefs Collaborative 2000 organization, Pope champions sustainable agriculture, gushes over organic farmers and goads Houstonians into eating their ugly (but delicious) vegetables.

She practices what she preaches. For more than a decade, Pope has been one of the city's largest buyers of local organic produce and artisanal food products. And her restaurant aggressively recycles glass, plastic, aluminum and steel as well as kitchen waste. But while there are lots of politically correct chefs in the country, few display Pope's level of talent.

Named one of Food & Wine Magazine's Top 10 Best New Chefs in 1996, Monica Pope has recently returned to the spotlight. Everybody is raving about her newest restaurant, T'afia. Along with the Best New Restaurant title in the 2004 Houston Press Best of Houston issue, the eatery also garnered praise in such articles as "Top 40 Best New American Restaurants" in the December issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine and "Where to Eat Now in 30 American Cities" in the October issue of Gourmet.


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