Chef Chat, Part 1: Nick Banaszak of Hearsay Gastro Lounge

Eating Our Words visited Hearsay Gastro Lounge (218 Travis St.) to speak with Chef Nick Banaszak, a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Houston, to find out where he came from and where he might be going next.

Eating Our Words: Hello Nick. We are big fans of Hearsay. Tell us how you ended up working here.

Nick Banaszak: Well, I started out going to pharmacy school, but I ended up backing out of that. I used to cook with my dad in Chicago all the time when I was growing up, so when I came to Houston, I decided to go to the Art Institute and get my culinary degree. And then I ended up here a month later. Been here about a year now. This is my first real restaurant job.

EOW: Wow! That is a seriously fast career path.

NB: Yeah. I don't have a whole lot of experience behind me. I worked with Pedro at 51fifteen (Restaurant & Lounge) for a few months and now I'm fully on my own.

EOW: And you are also doing some menu consultation over at the new Double Cross Lounge as well. I hear that some people are very adamant to get the Kobe beef hot dog off the menu. Thoughts?

NB: Yes! That is coming off. Should be next week. If people want a Kobe beef hot dog then they can just come here. At Double Cross, we need food that goes well with expensive vodka. Things like caviar, pate, cold stuff. There is no space for a heat source over there. Get rid of the hot dog!

EOW: Did you create Hearsay's menu?

NB: I would say it was about 50/50. A lot of things came from Pedro at 51fifteen. But I was also able to put a lot of my own creations on the menu as well. All the sandwiches are mine. We have a burger that's called The Byrd. It's a killer burger that has bacon, two kinds of cheeses, jalapenos, avocado, a fried egg, and all these crazy toppings on it. It was actually created by John Michael Byrd. He was one of our best bartenders, and he died in a freak accident a few months ago. We named the burger after him as a tribute.

Join us tomorrow when ask Chef Nick about what he likes to do on those rare moments when he is not at the restaurant.

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