Chef Jose Hernandez Rejoins Étoile After Leaving La Balance

A mere week and a half after chef Jose Hernandez announced he was leaving La Balance Cuisine, the French restaurant he opened in Katy in mid-August, On the Mark Communications announced that he would be the new sous chef at Étoile Cuisine et Bar. Hernandez is filling the position he left open when he departed Étoile six months after it opened.

In the short time it's been serving food, La Balance has already received praise from our own Mai Pham and the Chronicle's Alison Cook, who rewarded the restaurant three stars in a November review. Pham noted that Hernandez, a pastry chef by trade, makes desserts "on par with some of the best you'll taste in New York City ... His composition and execution are unmatched in the greater Houston area."

When Hernandez left La Balance, he told the Chronicle that it was because of differences he had with his business partner, Manuel Atenco.

"It just came to an end," Hernandez told Greg Morago. "We have different ways to see the restaurant running."

For his part, Atenco told Eater's Darla Guillen: "I didn't fire him. After dinner last Saturday he left me his keys." Apparently there was no notice; Hernandez just left.

Now, though, the former pastry chef at Philippe Restaurant & Lounge and chef de cuisine at Triniti is back at Étoile, and chef Philippe Verpiand is pleased with the development.

"I'm excited about him being back," Verpiand said. "He's a great pastry chef and a great chef overall. That's the kind of person I try to hire. We know each other, so it's not something new for me or for him. He pretty much took the position he had four months ago. We are on the same page in a lot of different things. I'm glad he's back with us."

We know this means there might be some changes on the dessert menu at Étoile, but in spite of Hernandez's clear talent, we hope the desserts don't change too much. That dark chocolate pastilla is pretty damn good.

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