Kate McLean, who made history as the first female to head the kitchen at Houston landmark Tony's, 3755 Richmond, has quit her post at the restaurant. McLean became the first female sous chef of Tony's at age 26, taking over as chef de cuisine at the young age of 29, and garnering critical acclaim during her nearly four-year tenure heading the restaurant's kitchen.
Just last year, Chronicle reviewer Alison Cook ranked the restaurant number 14 in her coveted Top 100 Restaurants, with lots of praise for McLean's deft hand in the kitchen:
Vallone’s young chef, Kate McLean, brings a contemporary note to the seasonal tasting menus that can be ordered in toto or — in a gracious touch — be mixed and matched with à la carte items for a custom experience. Her house-made pastas are sublime... Old-timers cleave to the showy soufflés, but McLean’s more modern ideas are all lightness, lift and grace.
On Wednesday morning, a press release confirmed that Tony's current sous, Austin Waiter, a Culinary Institute of America grad, will step up as chef de cuisine much as his predecessor did.
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"After two and half years in our kitchen," says Vallone in the release, "Austin is more than capable and has earned this great opportunity. His creativity, eye for detail, and knack for balance made him a perfect fit for this coveted position."
The Press reached out to McLean, who released the following statement:
I feel so grateful that Mr. Vallone took a chance on me. He is an extraordinary man, and I will miss working with him greatly. Tony's is a special place because of all the hardworking people that are dedicated to his vision. I will miss them the most. Houston should be excited for Austin Waiter to take over! He is so talented and I know he'll be a strong leader.
The Tony's team also wished McLean well in her future endeavors, which we hope we'll be hearing about soon enough.