Chef David Coffman takes the reins of executive chef at Cullen's Upscale American Grille today, September 2. Coffman has experience at a variety of Houston restaurants, including Goro & Gun, Benjy's on Washington and in Rice Village, and Katsuya.
The decision to bring Coffman on board at Cullen's was made on Thursday, August 28, by the owner Kevin Munz and general manager Ryan Roberts. Cullen's is currently going through a transition to revamp its menu offerings.
"We just recently did a tasting for those guys [Munz and Roberts] and they all thought it would be a huge benefit for me to come on board over there and work for those guys and help bring their restaurant back up to award-winning and where it needs to be," Coffman says. "Kind of liven it up a little bit."
Current offerings at Cullen's include a selection of seafood dishes, such as seared Maine scallops, American red snapper and miso-marinated Alaskan black cod, as well as duck breast, pork chops, bone-in beef short ribs and lamb tenderloins. Coffman plans to feature more local ingredients on the menu, and hopes to establish a garden on the restaurant's property.
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"One of my goals is to really be working with some of the local farmers and local vendors and see if we can't go more towards the farm-to-table, utilizing our Gulf for our fish... and just whatever vendors I can find," he says. "I love using local ingredients, too, but it has to make sense as well. I'm not going to grab local ingredients just because it's grown here if it's not the best I can find... I garden as well, so I play around with that a lot. It makes it a little more difficult, but it's one of those things that I'll do -- stay local as much as I can and utilize the best product we can."
Coffman hasn't changed the menu at Cullen's just yet. He says he will analyze the selection, see what customers like and dislike, then make the changes from there. Essentially, the owner, general manager and executive chef want to serve their guests what they want to eat. Like Coffman says, "at the end of the day, they pay everybody's bills." So if the customers aren't happy, the restaurant isn't happy.
Aside from changing the menu, Cullen's is also adding an Italian restaurant next door, Bravissimo. Coffman will oversee the production at both Cullen's and Bravissimo. He says he has a "fairly decent Italian background," so that will be beneficial when creating the menu. The new concept is set to open in the fall of this year.
"I'm ready to hit the ground running and get as much accomplished as we can before the busy season gets here," Coffman says. "With seven banquet facilities, we've got our hands full through the holiday season, so make our changes now and gear up and get ready for that."