Most Americans wouldn't know chef Aquiles Chávez if they saw him on the street, even with his trademark handlebar mustache and Jack Sparrow-style dreadlocks tucked under a straw hat.
But ask anyone in Latin America about Chávez and they'll immediately grin and say, "El hombre con el bigote!" as they twist the ends of a mock mustache on their own faces. Throughout Latin America, Chávez -- who is the star of two reality shows, with a third in production -- is as famous as Anthony Bourdain.
And he hopes to accomplish the same level of fame here in the United States, starting in Houston with his brand-new restaurant: La Fisheria (4705 Inker), which opens to the public tomorrow, February 11.
It was at La Fisheria that I met Chávez yesterday afternoon, accompanied by his co-owners in the restaurant and a Colombian production crew from the Fox-affiliated station Utilisima. Utilisima is the South American version of channels like HGTV and the Food Network in the U.S., and Chávez's two shows are very similar to No Reservations and various live cooking shows. His third show, currently filming, is called Aquiles in Houston and follows the chef as he and his family have packed their bags and moved to Houston permanently to open La Fisheria.