Chef Chat, Part 2: Catherine Duwez of The Broken Spoke

Yesterday we spoke with The Broken Spoke's (1809 Washington Avenue) chef and owner, Catherine Duwez, about her culinary background. Today we continue our conversation.

Eating Our Words: We hear you make some amazing homemade mayonnaise. That must make you pretty popular with diners.

Catherine Duwez: Ah yes, I do make mayonnaise. It's not hard, but not many people make it fresh anymore. In Belgium, there are street carts selling French fries everywhere, and everyone eats them with mayonnaise. They may have 20 types of mayonnaise, with curry or herbs. But no ketchup. It has taken me many years, but I have gotten Americans to start eating mayonnaise with their French fries, which was a very difficult thing to do because, of course, you grew up with the idea of only ketchup. Now we don't have it on the tables. But we do still keep it in the back.

EOW: We are actually recent converts of mayonnaise on our fries ourselves. A little fresh ground pepper in the mayo, and we're in heaven. Tell us more about what's popular in Belgian cuisine.

CD: Mussels Mariniere is the national dish of Belgium. They are in season from September to February, March. During this time, there are mussel festivals where every restaurant sells mussels right out front on the street. Mussels actually come from Holland. Belgium does not grow mussels, but it is the biggest buyer of mussels in the world.

EOW: Personally, what is your favorite dish on the menu?

CD: The red cabbage sautéed with apples. With meatloaf and either mashed potatoes or potato croquettes. It reminds me of what my grandmother used to cook for me.

EOW: So that's your nostalgic, happy comfort food?

CD: Yes, definitely. I love the cabbage. It always reminds me of my grandmother.

EOW: What are some of your other favorite places to eat in Houston?

CD: Istanbul Grill, Café Rabelais for French food, Max & Julie. Mexican!

EOW: Where do you like to get your Mexican fix?

CD: La Mexicana on Montrose. I don't know if it's the best, but it's good and it's close. I like to stay in the inner loop.

EOW: So you plan on staying in the restaurant business for awhile?

CD: I have worked in restaurants 25 years. This is my life. If I could sleep upstairs, I would.

Join us tomorrow as we get our hands on some truly authentic Belgian cuisine.

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