Three years ago almost to the day, it was announced that chef Philippe Schmit (at Philippe Restaurant + Bar at the time; currently at Drexel House) had achieved the prestigious title of Maître Cuisinier de France, or Master Chef of France.
Houston can now add two more names to that list. Yesterday it was announced that both chef Frédéric Perrier of Aura Restaurant in Sugar Land and chef Philippe Verpiand of Étoile Cuisine et Bar have also been granted that lofty status. The Houston area is, in fact, the only home in Texas to French chefs who have hit that level of achievement.
Perrier has been a longtime fixture in the Houston area, earning acclaim for his eponymous Café Perrier before deciding to open a new place, Aura Restaurant, closer to his home in Missouri City. Since then, he opened casual eatery Hoggs n Chicks, moved Aura from the original sleepy, New England-themed strip mall to bustling Sugar Land Town Square and replaced the original Aura with an Italian place, Coco Pazzo.
Verpiand is a more recent addition. He closed his well-regarded restaurant in San Diego to get a new start in Houston, where he believed the dining climate would be more friendly to his mix of French modern and traditional cuisine. He was correct. Étoile has received a steady stream of praise since it opened. Just this past week, it made our list of 20 Most Romantic Restaurants in Houston.
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One of the eligibility requirements for the title is to have been in the current position for at least two years. Étoile literally just had its two-year anniversary, and the new Maître Cuisinier de France honors are announced at this time of year, so the two events were perfectly timed.
Other requirements to achieve Master status are that a chef "must be a French national between the ages of 28 and 55 [...] with a "mastership of cooking technique, superior qualification and professional culture."
Both will be inducted into the elite association on March 16 in Biarritz, France.