Chef Chat

Chef Chat, Part 1: Philippe Schmit of Philippe Restaurant + Lounge

Very soon, masses of curious and hungry Houstonians will get what they've been patiently waiting for. Next week, Philippe Schmit will unveil his debut restaurant, Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, in the Galleria area after two-and-a-half years of meticulous planning. Philippe, otherwise known as the French Cowboy, spoke with the Houston Press about his concept and the blood, sweat and tears that he's poured into the restaurant to meet the city's, and his own, great expectations.

EOW: What's the set date for the opening?

PS: As of today, we're talking about the third week of January, maybe Wednesday the 19, but we'll see.

EOW: How many hours have you all been working the past few months to get this done by next week?

PS: It's been seven days a week. To give you perspective, I worked till 10:30 on Christmas Eve, New Years Eve and New Year's Day, which was my birthday. So there's no turning back, and right now we're in the final sprint. It's going to be very exciting. I will be so happy to get the food out, serve the first meal, and talk to the first customers.

EOW: What are some of the emotions you're feeling right now?

PS: Excitement, fear, and expectations from the whole city. I'm a perfectionist, and I've been working on this project for two-and-a-half years, and even after this much time, I feel like there's so many things to do and I don't have the time to accomplish all of it. I'm so organized and like to know everything, and it's hard for me to deal with uncertainty. It can be frustrating because now I have to let it go and focus on food. But at the same time, it's pretty amazing to show the restaurant to people who believed in me and have been waiting for so long. I think it will be worth their while.

EOW: What can we expect from Philippe?

PS: Philippe will be quite a surprise. I think it's the first restaurant designed with a theme in Houston. What we're about to accomplish is a menu and decor that really fit together. It's not a brasserie or bistro or fine-dining restaurant that people expect from a French restaurant. That's where the surprise element comes in. Bistro Moderne was very sophisticated but not exactly my style. The concept is to keep you in an amazing decor but very comfortable -- you'll have a great culinary experience without spending much money.

Tomorrow Philippe reveals more about his upcoming namesake restaurant, Philippe Restaurant + Lounge.

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Nancy Kerschen