Dallas Easterly, the general manager of Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, released the following statement:
"After nearly two years as Executive Chef of Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, Philippe Schmit is leaving his post to pursue other projects, but he will still remain an equity partner in the restaurant. We wish him profound success in his future endeavors. We're thrilled to announce that Chef de Cuisine Manuel Pucha has officially stepped into the position of Executive Chef. Manuel has worked closely with Schmit for the past 15 years, and had already unofficially been acting as Executive Chef for the past year while Schmit was taking an increasingly greater role in outside of the kitchen in marketing and socializing with patrons. Pucha possesses a wealth of experience and we look forward to seeing him take our culinary service to new heights."
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Schmit moved from France to the States in 1990. After Bistro Moderne at Hotel Derek closed in 2007, he set his eyes on creating Philippe Restaurant + Lounge. The time it took for him to create the restaurant (two and a half years) was about the time he stayed as the executive chef.
In February 2012, Schmit received a prestigious French title, Maître Cuisinier de France, or Master Chef of France; it's the most coveted award in France. Schmit received this honor after being at Philippe Restaurant + Lounge for only one year. The fact that he was the first Texas-based chef to be inducted into this organization showed the great culinary talent Houston has.
In January 2013, we ranked Philippe's as the No. 2 most romantic restaurant in Houston. Houstonia food critic Katharine Shilcutt has noted how Schmit always adds a Texan touch to his French fare. Recently the chef has been hosting several wine dinners and prix-fixe menu events.
We will update this post as we receive further information about Philippe Schmit's departure from Philippe Restaurant + Lounge.