After nearly ten years at Kris Bistro at Culinary Institute LeNôtre in positions from director of culinary arts to vice president, as well as executive chef of Kris Bistro, Kris Jakob is striking out on his own.
The talented toque, who took home last year’s grand prize title at the 11th Annual The Woodlands & Food Week, beating out approximately 50 other area chefs, has been quietly turning out some of Houston’s finest French and European cuisine from his kitchen at Kris Bistro, his eponymous restaurant located on the culinary school premises, since it opened in September 2011. Under his stewardship, the restaurant — an independently run, upscale establishment staffed by the school’s students and graduates — has been recognized for three consecutive years as one of Houston Chronicle food critic Alison Cook’s Top 100 Restaurants in Houston. It has also won awards for Best Charcuterie in Houston Press.
Jakob and his partner, Sky Lyn Gibbons, have already signed the lease and have begun work on a new restaurant concept, Brasserie 1895 in Friendswood, which will be “Old World-Inspired Wood Fired Cuisine” that focuses on using a wood-burning oven and a wood-burning Aztec grill.
Brasserie 1895 will inhabit the space formerly occupied by Justin’s Seafood, located in close proximity to the booming Baybrook Mall, and has a projected opening date of March 2016. Jakob says that he and Gibbons have made substantial headway on the project and are currently in the process of installing the bar.
In a statement provided to us earlier this morning, Jakob said:
“I am very proud to have been a part of the LeNôtre legacy and owe a great deal of gratitude to Mr. And Mrs. LeNôtre for taking a chance in allowing me to be the first American chef to instruct a traditionally French program and for giving me the trust in giving me key responsibilities in its growth and success over the last nine years.
"Kris Bistro has been a wonderful experience. Who would have thought a no name chef and group of green culinary students in an otherwise nondescript part of town would accumulate such success?
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"As with any restaurant the team chemistry is the secret ingredient that makes what we put out to the customer a special product. I would like thank the core team front and back who are all graduates of the Culinary Institute LeNôtre as well as all the students who participated in the internship program for making the Bistro one of Houston’s top restaurants.
"I would also like to thank our adventurous clientele for venturing out of the 610 loop to find a hidden gem. The Kris Bistro team has made a lot of good friends while serving you our life’s passion. Thank you giving us opportunity to do so. With Justin Santellana and Nina Wilhite at the helm of the kitchen and Jason Seo leading the dining room (all former students and part of the core team members), I have full confidence you will have many more memorable dining experiences to come.”
Later, via phone conference, Jakob, who resides in the Friendswood area, intimated that Brasserie 1895 is just the first step in a longer-term plan to bring a more chef-driven culinary scene to the southeast suburbs outside of Houston. “The big picture is to try to open three different concepts — one in League City, one in Clear Lake and obviously the one here in Friendswood.”
Jakob’s last day at Kris Bistro, and Culinary Institute LeNôtre, was last Friday.