Houston Chefs and Master Sommelier Plan for Noma-Inspired Dinner at Paulie's

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Updated, 7/13/2016, 6:57 p.m.: The first date has proven so popular that the organizers have added a second 30-person seating (also on August 21 from 8 to 10:30 p.m. As with the original, spaces are limited and expected to get snatched up fast.

Not everyone can hop on a plane to Copenhagen, Denmark, and drop more than $200 on a tasting menu at Noma, which is currently in the number five spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Fortunately for Houstonians, chef Brandon Silva (formerly of Uchi and currently of Wooster's Garden) spent nearly two months working in kitchens at Noma and other world-class restaurants. He says the experiences have given him new inspiration in flavor and technique, and he wants to share these insights with his hometown.

To that end, Silva, along with chef Ben McPherson (of a former consultant for El Burro & The Bull and former executive chef of Prohibition) and master sommelier David Keck of Camerata, is hosting a six-course dinner called "Thyme & Place" for 30 people at Paulie's. The cost is $130 (tickets are available online), and includes wine pairings, a dessert course and special lagniappe (or small food gift) to take home. The event on August 21 runs from 5 to 7 p.m.

The name comes from the seasonal approach Silva observed in Denmark and the extreme focus each chef gave to a specific, seasonal ingredient. Thyme & Place is a showcasing of summer fruits and vegetables available now (time) and regionally (place). As Silva puts it, “If it’s not from the Gulf Coast and not from Texas, then we’re not going to put it on our menu.”

Look for deceptively simple dishes of minimal components presented in surprising formats. The menu is sparsely worded, with dishes like "lemon + yogurt + nasturtium and whey + black gulf fin + fennel," though exactly how each grouping will be presented remains to be seen. “We’re really having some fun with this menu,” says Silva. “What I’m really excited about is that we get to showcase what we think the new dining should be here in Houston.”

The collaborative meal is a marriage of McPherson’s rustic comfort food and Silva’s avant-garde presentations and techniques. Each dish will arrive covered for an element of surprise, and the platings have been designed without the distraction of unnecessary ingredients. McPherson says that while they are sourcing the best ingredients possible, “they are very simple dishes. There are only about three elements to every dish.”

More surprises abound with the wine pairings, each of which will be selected by Keck. Even Silva does not yet know what to expect since he and McPherson simply gave Keck the food menu and told him to “just go with it." 

Interested diners are encouraged to purchase tickets for the innovative dinner. With only 30 seats, spots aren’t likely to linger. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Eventbrite web site

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