Chef Chat, Part 3: John Brand of Las Canarias and Pesca on the River

This week we chatted with Chef Brand and tasted a smattering of the dishes he helped develop for the Omni Hotel's Texas Triple Play menu. Because Chef Brand was visiting, he did not prepare the meal himself - it was prepared by Omni Houston's Café on the Green.

We started with the crab cakes. Chef Brand is particularly proud that these pretty patties are breadless. His recipe calls for coconut milk reduction with ginger and lemongrass. The mayonnaise-like reduction is blended with the crabmeat until smooth. Then that coconut-crab mixture is used as a binding agent for the more attractive chunks of crabmeat. Also thrown in the mix are lemon zest, cilantro and roasted red peppers. Despite a suspicion that bread had been added into this interpretation of his recipe, Chef Brand and I still enjoyed every last bit of the crab cake.

Next we had a sampling of sausages from Elgin served with a barbecue sauce, mustard, and horseradish. The smoky, juicy sausages were in regular, sage and jalapeño-cheddar flavors.

The brisket plate was served with barbeque sauce and a side of chow chow. Chef Brand explains that the recipe for his chow chow calls for mustard seeds. He heats up salt, sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds and fresh jalapeños and brings it to a boil. Then the hot vinegar mixture is poured over shredded cabbage and other veggies and allowed to sit for 15 minutes, essentially resulting in a quick pickling of the veggies.

The chophouse double cheeseburger came with tender roasted jalapeños and crispy applewood-smoked bacon. Accompanying this behemoth of a burger were fries and more chow chow.

The beef salad was a grilled skirt steak sandwiched between bibb lettuce and fried shallots. A tart tomato vinaigrette dressing bridged the gap between the warm, salty steak, crunchy piquant shallots, and fresh crisp greens.

All ten Omni properties in Texas are running this promotional menu through Labor Day.

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