Chef Chat, Part II: Randy Evans of Haven

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Yesterday, we spoke with Haven Chef Randy Evans about his past. Today, we'll take a look at how things are going at Haven, the "Going Green" concept, and some seasonal ingredients that may be showing up on the menu.

EOW: Texas Monthly just recognized Haven as one of the restaurants to watch in 2011. How are you dealing with the accolades coming your way?

RE: I think you just take them for what they are. They're a great feather in your hat. It makes you feel good about what you are doing. It lets you know you're on the right track, don't change direction, don't second-guess yourself whenever there's a bad day.

EOW: What have been some of the challenges of running your own restaurant?

RE: Well, just opening the doors was probably the hardest thing I've ever been through. I was here every day during the construction. That probably was why it felt like it took forever.

EOW: Haven is known for the whole "Going Green" and "Farm-to-Table" concepts. How did those things become so important to you?

RE: Sometimes it's the hunt for the next item that really pushes me to the farmers' market. It's like, what can I find next that's being grown here? Who can grow here with me? Can I get a farmer to start growing a product because I asked him to, and then figure out what to do with it once they start growing it?

The whole idea of the actual "greening" of a building and being efficient, it's good for you. But really, at the same time, it makes business sense...My utility bills have been ridiculously low. It's an awesome benefit.

EOW: I can hear from you that it's more than just a concept.

RE: Somehow it became a cool thing to do. It's really just what we do. We are operating in a smart fashion. There's a reason it's called sustainability, it's sustainable. It's something that you can continue to do over time.

EOW: What are some seasonal ingredients diners can expect to see on Haven's menu in the early part of the year?

RE: Home-grown tomatoes, Texas strawberries--We'll do a strawberry salad with Texas strawberry vinaigrette, fresh-sliced strawberries, candied pecans, arugula, with a little crustini with pink peppercorn goat cheese.

Check back tomorrow as we sample some Haven dishes.

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