Chef Chat, Part I: Andrew Klarman of Jeannine's Bistro

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Tucked away in an unlikely strip center on the corner of Westheimer and Bagby is where you'll find Jeannine's Bistro. The name may be familiar to some, since it was at the center of lots of restaurant gossip for most of last year. But, we're not here for gossip. We're here for the food.

Jeannine Petas, the restaurant's namesake, and her brother, Chef Andrew Klarman, opened Jeannine's Bistro in 2009 following the closing of Café Montrose. As you may expect, the Bistro specializes in Belgian cuisine such as its famed moules-frites. We decided it was time to go behind the scenes of this favorite spot for many in Houston.

Eating Our Words: You don't normally see a lot of Belgian cuisine in Houston. What draws you to focus on this style of cooking?

Andrew Klarman: Prior to Belgian cuisine, I was cooking French cuisine. Belgian cuisine is based on French cuisine, so the transition was easy. I have been cooking this style of food for many years now. I enjoy it, and I'm good at it.

EOW: Tell us a little bit about your training. Did you attend a formal program or did you receive mostly on-the-job training? Where was your first job in the kitchen?

Klarman: I first started working in a kitchen at 13 in Valdez, Alaska. At that job, I received some hands-on training making pizza, ice cream sundaes, prepping and washing dishes. Then, I attended culinary school and excelled at the culinary/cooking aspect in school. But, I was not good at the academics part, like accounting.

EOW: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Klarman: My parents. They always said, "If that's what you like to do, and it makes you happy, then do it." Also, anyone who has been in this line of work 20-plus years or more, I have to give them a lot of credit.

Check back soon as Klarman talks more about Belgian cuisine and Jeannine's.

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