Amid the strums of a soft guitar, we continue our chat with Reggae Hut's chef Anthony Davis.
EOW: When you were growing up, did you ever cook at home?
AD: Oh, yeah. My great-grandmother, my father, and my mother could cook. My father was like the weekend cook, the Sunday big dinners. My quick items come from my mother. She makes quick stuff that she just throws together. My great grandmother, there wasn't anything she couldn't do. Me being her first great-grandchild, I was under her all the time. I had things that I loved that she cooked every day for me. So when I went away to the military, I was homesick for my food. So I'd call my dad, call my great-grandmother and over the phone ask them what they did so I could make it. My dad had a tongue -- he could tell you pretty much everything in a dish. I can call my dad and tell him what something tastes like that he cooked, and he could pretty much tell me what to add to get that flavor. In the military, everyone would come over to my place on the weekends. When I moved back to Houston, we bought our first house. Everybody wanted to come over. I love to cook. I'd have get-togethers for no reason.
EOW: Do you almost feel like you're living in the shadow of the Breakfast Klub over here?
AD: Well, as my youngest brother told me when we started doing this, I can't expect that right away. It will come. Our crowd is growing. It's not like being in their shadow; we're doing a whole different thing. That's kind of considered Southern soul food, and we're trying to get people to understand this is soul food also.
My favorite thing to do is when people come in, our five main courses -- our chickens, our oxtails, our goat -- I put it in a two-ounce container so they can't tell what it is. I give them these samples. To people who are new to this cuisine, instead of telling them what's best, I let them taste it so they pick for themselves...I have more people start eating goat that would never touch a goat.
EOW: I love goat!
AD: It's not all that popular for Americans. For a bunch of Latinos and a few other folks it is, but in America it's like, 'Goat? What's goat?'
EOW: What's your favorite thing to cook?
AD: My favorite thing on our menu is our Creole shrimp. It's a Cuban-based dish, a tomato-based sauce. I fell in love with it once I started making it.
EOW: Is it better to make a delicious meal, or eat a delicious meal?
AD: I think a little bit of both. But I think it's better to make one, so you can see the smile on the customer's faces. I know I'm a big man but I don't eat a lot. By the time I finish cooking, I'm pretty much full from the smell. But you see the customers are happy, you see them full. That's more satisfying.
EOW: Is there anything you want people to know about Reggae Hut that they don't?
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SHOW ME HOW
AD: I don't want people to be fearful of Caribbean food. Know that we have great service, great food, and consistency in both.
Come back for Reggae Hut's food. Everyone else does.