Chef Chat, Part 2: Adam West of Monarch

Yesterday we spoke with Adam West, the new chef at Hotel Zaza's restaurant Monarch, about his culinary background and the changes he's made to the menu. Today we continue our chat.

Eating Our Words: We know this is a tough question, but can you categorize your cuisine?

Adam West: It's very open-ended cuisine. It's a melting pot. It's very difficult to pinpoint because you have all different types of cuisines going on, and I'm okay with that.

EOW: I would almost call that Houston cuisine. Of course, you're from Dallas, so I won't call it that, but I think it will translate well to local diners. Normally about now, I would ask you to name some of your favorite Houston restaurants, but I know you haven't been here long and you've been working basically 24/7, but have you managed to eat anywhere that you've enjoyed?

AW: The only restaurant I've been to is Benjy's.

EOW: And?

AW: It was great. Can't wait to go back. I'm looking forward to trying Haven.

EOW: Haven has some amazing desserts. Speaking of, do you make desserts?

AW: I do. I used to make a lot of ice cream. I won awards for my butterscotch ice cream. I reduced butterscotch schnapps and then added buttered pecans.

EOW: Is there anything you won't make or that you like to outsource?

AW: I'm a pretty well-rounded chef. When you go to school, they train you in almost everything. I guess I don't have as much experience in baking bread. But other than that, I'll make just about anything.

EOW: What are your thoughts on the whole celebrity chef craze?

AW: I think it hurt us. It sets the wrong precedent. It's the wrong tone. This job isn't pretty. It isn't glamorous. It's hard work. You're going to get cut and you're going to get burned, and if this isn't your passion, you're not going to make it. If someone told me they wanted to be a chef, I would tell them to run away. Unless it's really your passion.

EOW: Okay, let's end this thing on a high note. Tell me the highlight of your career thus far.

AW: Last May, I was invited to cook at the James Beard House. It was the most prestigious moment of my career thus far. Committee members came in to eat at Dragonfly. And I met with them, and they invited me to go cook there. It was great.

Hungry for more? Monday we'll sample some of Chef Adam's delicious dishes.

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