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Watch Chris Shepherd on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Chris Shepherd will wow Jimmy Kimmel's audience with his cooking this week.
Chris Shepherd will wow Jimmy Kimmel's audience with his cooking this week. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston's star chef and restaurateur, Chris Shepherd, will be cooking his Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tuesday, December 3. The dish is one he has made  numerous times and is featured in his first cookbook, Cook Like a Local. The cookbook is a collaboration with writer and cook, Kaitlyn Goalen, and is a love letter to the cultures and cuisines that make up the Houston dining scene. It has made the lists of top publications for Best New Cookbooks for Fall including Food and Wine, Forbes and the Robb Report.

His bar/restaurant, The Hay Merchant, 1100 Westheimer, will be hosting a watch party Tuesday. Diners can taste the Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings that was a classic dish at Underbelly for years.The dish will be $10 instead of the usual $15, after 10 p.m. that evening. Diners can enjoy the dish as Shepherd creates it on national late night television. Now, that's an interactive experience. There are also plenty of beers on tap to pair with it.

click to enlarge Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings is a Chris Shepherd classic. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings is a Chris Shepherd classic.
Photo by Julie Soefer
After his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Shepherd will fly back from Los Angeles just in time for a talk and book signing at the Houston Public Library, 550 McKinney, on December 5, from  6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Cook Like a Local will be available for purchase.

Chris Shepherd took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his cookbook, his love of Houston and crushed potato chips.

When we asked the chef how the Jimmy Kimmel appearance came about, he told us " I've been friends with Doug DeLuca for a while now, who is one of the executive producers. We did some Jimmy Kimmel after parties a couple years back so we had a relationship. Once the cookbook came out, it seemed like a good time to go on and they agreed... It's awesome. We get to talk about the book, talk about Houston, talk about what we're doing here."

Shepherd told the Press that he chose the Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings as the demo dish for the show because " It's been on the menu since day one or two. It's kind of one of those dishes that's who we are."

Shepherd admits that it was difficult to narrow the dishes down to 100 for the book itself, but he kept the home cook in mind. "All of our dishes are pretty simple. Don't put too much on a dish. Let the ingredients speak for themselves." Shepherd and Goalen chose to do the chapters by ingredients rather than courses.

One of the dishes featured in the book is BBQ Baked Field Peas, sort of a play on baked beans. Shepherd tops them in the book with crushed potato chips. We asked him if he did that to his sandwiches in school and he replied " Always. Mustard. Mayonnaise. Meat. Crushed (Lay's) potato chips."

click to enlarge Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World, by Chris Shepherd and Kaitlyn Goalen - BOOK JACKET
Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World, by Chris Shepherd and Kaitlyn Goalen
Book jacket
When asked why he chose Kaitlyn Goalen, who is the co-founder and editor of the Short Stack Cookbooks, to be his co-writer on the cookbook, Shepherd said  "She understands. She gets me. We've run in the same circles for  a long time. Her wife's Ashley Christensen, so we know each other pretty well. And it was time to tell the story of who we are."

Christensen is a Raleigh-based chef and restaurateur behind such restaurants as Poole's Diner and Death & Taxes. She is also one of the many notable chefs whom Shepherd brings in for his Southern Smoke Foundation Festival. She most recently won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef 2019. Goalen and Christensen published a cookbook together, Poole's, in 2016. Goalen is also the Brand Director for AC Restaurants. They wed this past summer.

Shepherd is a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, but has embraced Houston as his new hometown because of its diversity. He told us that he went back to Tulsa after culinary school (he graduated from the Art Institute of Houston), but after interviewing there, he realized he had to come back to Houston, mostly because of the food and the product available here. And boy, is Houston happy that he did. He currently operates four restaurants here: Georgia James, UB Preserv, One Fifth Gulf Coast and The Hay Merchant.

Restaurant critics, food writers and lifestyle journalists have now discovered that there is more to Houston than oil tycoons and boot-scooting urban cowboys and some of that is due to Shepherd's work as a culinary ambassador for the city. The chef has won a number of awards including the James Beard Foundation Award Best Chef: Southwest and was most recently named Best Chef of the Year by the Robb Report. For Shepherd, these awards are more about highlighting the special mingling of cultures and cuisines in this port city and sharing the unique food options that abound.

But he wants you to know that his love of Houston goes beyond its multi-layered food scene. "It's not just about food. It is about art. It is about music. It's about all that. People need to get past 'Houston, it's an oil town or strip centers'. It is that but it's so much more."

And Chris Shepherd is definitely part of Houston's "so much more".

Jimmy Kimmel Live Watch Party
The Hay Merchant
1100 Westheimer
December 3, 10 p.m.

Chris Shepherd Talk and Book Signing
The Houston Public Library
Julia Ideson Building/Auditorium
550 McKinney
December 5, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.