Chef Chat

Where the Chefs Eat: David Cordua, Jonathan Jones, Randy Rucker

This week, we check in with three chefs who worked together five years ago: David Cordua, Jonathan Jones, and Randy Rucker. In 2007, Cordua set up a test kitchen to create new dishes for Americas in The Woodlands. Rucker was hired as executive chef of R & D. Jones was hired as executive chef of Americas in The Woodlands, and Cordua was in charge of brand development. The three chefs collaborated during a period marked by what Cordua describes as "boundless creativity."

Let's learn more about their individual, personal tastes when they share their picks for this week's Where the Chefs Eat.

David Cordua Executive Chef, Cordua Restaurant Group

Standard go-to: Garson on Sundays, great comfortable Persian restaurant on Hillcroft... for their chicken barg, or anything grilled for that matter, basmati rice and sangak bread.

Cheap Eats: Fu Fu Cafe on Bellaire on Mondays. Hot pot cleanses the sins of the weekend. You can do a combo of spicy and regular broth and leave with a wonderful mouth-numbing pepper burn. Don't leave without trying a soup dumpling but remember to let it cool a bit before popping the whole dumpling in our mouth.

Comfort food: Pizza is my comfort. I do a Regina Margherita with an egg at Piola in Midtown...they usually stay open late most nights too.

Jonathan Jones Executive Chef at Concepcion

Standard go-to: Bon Ga on Long Point. It's the best Korean food I've had in the city. I always get the noodles, or jap chae, and the potato pancakes with squid and pork or kim chi. They have cold noodle soups that are beautiful, and the spicy beef and noodle one is excellent as well. They have Korean barbecue, but I never get it because the other dishes are so good.

Cheap eats: I always get Vietnamese food. I like Thien An Sandwiches in Midtown. The hours are not that regular -- they open early and close early -- but that works out well for me, and their banh xeo is my favorite, super thin and crispy. Teahouse next to Pho Saigon on Milam is another restaurant I go to often. I get the fried taro cake, the wonton noodle soup, the banh mi "dac biet" special with a fried egg.

Late night: Pho Binh by night -- I go there for their pho with bone marrow. I also frequent Tacos Del Julio. They have many locations, but I usually go to the one on Westheimer at Fountainview, which is near my house. It's open until midnight weekdays, and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 3 a.m. I like to get their tacos "tlaquepaque," which are beef tacos covered with a black burnt chili sauce. I like things extra spicy, and that sauce is a like a double or triple burn.

Randy Rucker Chef/Owner of Briar and Bramble (coming this fall)

Standard go-to : Most certainly, it would be Paulie's and Kata Robata, but I have had fantastic meals at Uchi Houston and Concepcion of late.  I don't ever get a chance to look at a menu before they start throwing food at me, but I think Hori-san's chawanmushi [at Kata Robata] is the sexiest dish in town. The texture is incredible, and no matter what he slides in there, it's always a pleasant surprise.  I remember watching Hori-san make a consommé of blowfish bones and skins and being completely amazed at its clarity and more importantly its flavor. JJ's (Jonathan Jones of Concepcion) pozole is always incredible.  I have always said I think JJ makes the best-tasting food in town. 'Ole boy knows how to make "food" taste good.  He does very well with cebiches and tiraditos no matter the seafood involved.  I recently had the braised goat at Concepcion and found "my skirt had been blown up"...

Cheap eats: Most recently (while in Tomball), I have been eating at Phở Thanh Long.
If you missed our previous posts, click below to see more of Where the Chefs Eat:



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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham