Updated 4/6/2015, 3:23 p.m. Chef Randy Evans returned our call and had this to say:
"I'm going to miss the people and the food. Houston's been great to me. I just turned 40 and that's a big milestone. I'm not actually starting at H‑E‑B until August 1--exactly one year after Paul Miller [of Union Kitchen and Paul's Kitchen] bought Haven.
If you'd told me a year ago I'd be making this move, I'd have been like, 'Leave Houston? I love this town. Working for a grocery store? Why am I working for a grocery store?' This is very bittersweet for me. By the end of the year, though, H‑E‑B will open two more store restaurants. It's how they see they can differentiate themselves from everyone else. They want to grow. They're already in Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Now they want to expand to Dallas-Fort Worth.
In a way, I'll get to be part of all Texas food now."
As the saying goes, chef Randy Evans got an offer he couldn't refuse.
Eater Houston broke the news today that Evans has accepted the position of director/chef of restaurants with San Antonio-based chain H-E-B. The job requires that he relocates there, as that is where the corporate office is. It's a natural outgrowth of his work in developing the menu and concept for restaurant Table 57 at the new H-E-B at 5895 San Felipe.
It's not an exaggeration to say that Houston is losing a star chef. Evans has a long and storied history here. He started at Macaroni Grill in The Woodlands in 1995 as a six-dollar-an-hour prep cook. In time, he worked his way up to the executive chef position at Brennan's of Houston. He's the author of the cookbook, The Kitchen Table which features many of his recipes from that time.
When Brennan's of Houston was destroyed by a fire that happened during Hurricane Ike, Evans decided to start his own restaurant, Haven. It closed after a few years on July 31, 2014 due to its main investor wanting to get out of the business.
Since then, Evans has had several consulting stints, including for JCI Grill (formerly James Coney Island), Ocean Grill and Beach Bar in Galveston and, of course, H-E-B. He competed on Food Network's "Kitchen Inferno" but did not win. Not too long ago, Evans was discussing perhaps opening a restaurant in the Garden Oaks area, but obviously has decided against it in light of H-E-B's offer.
Evans has been the host of the Iron Fork competition at the Houston Press Menu of Menus since its inception four years ago. He most recently hosted it just last week, emceeing chef Kevin Naderi's battle to retain his Iron Fork title from Randy Rucker of forthcoming restaurant Bramble. We will miss him and his wife, Melanie, tremendously.
Sunday, April 26 will likely be the chef's last public appearance in Houston. He'll be competing in the Draughts & Dogs event at Saint Arnold Brewing Company.