Chef Chat, Part 1: Brandi Key of Pappas

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Brandi Key of Pappadeaux and Pappas Seafood House, has the job title of R & D Chef- New Food, but she's been many other things in her tenure with Pappas. She sat down for a cup of coffee and gave us the 411 on her experiences working for the company.

Eating Our Words: How long have you been with Pappas?

Brandi Key: I have been with them for 10 years. They were my first culinary job. I waited tables, then became floor manager, and kitchen manager. I have been trained as a busser, bartender, and have continued to move up the ranks. I was on the waiting floor for one year and have been in the kitchen nine years.

EOW: You look awfully young to be there ten years.

BK: I will take that as a compliment, haha!

EOW: When we think Pappas, we tend to think a big company, but that isn't so?

BK: It is totally private, coming from one businessman's family. We make everything every day. We don't pull stuff out of a bag like a chain. They own a lot of restaurants, but hey, it's a large family. The two brothers and kids run the operations...and we [the staff] are all extended family to the Pappas.

EOW: You've been known to set up shop at 13 Celsius when not at work. Has your love of wine helped develop new products at work?

BK: Sort of, yeah. The biggest thing with what I do is develop my palette so food and wine pairings are included. I don't personally select each table's wine menu, but I do have a wine in mind when developing dishes.

EOW: Other than wine, what's on the itinerary outside of work? Brandi-related?

BK: That's a fun one. I love the Houston art scene, and a lot of spare time is [spent] looking up painters and writers and photographers. And I translate that art into my food. I love museums and art shows. My favorite in Houston is Sundays at the Menil.

EOW: So do you jam some music at work?

BK: Ha! Not really. I wish I could, but at any time there are six prep people, nine cooks and three dishwashers. That is a lot of commotion, and I try to stay in tune with them. I can always walk onto the floor and hear some zydeco.

Our interview with Brandi Key continues tomorrow, when she'll tell us which Pappas restaurant is her favorite, what to get there, and where else around town she likes to eat.

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