It was always the plan to step out of the kitchen. Chris Shepherd closed Underbelly—a whole animal, locally sourced restaurant that defined his career—to grow Underbelly Hospitality and provide opportunities to his team. Now, he’s focused on big picture strategy for Underbelly Hospitality, and his executive chefs run the kitchens day to day, executing their own visions on the menus while continuing to follow the Underbelly philosophy of quality sourcing, fostering relationships, respecting the animal/the farmer/the community, and always learning.
As Underbelly Hospitality’s time at 1100 Westheimer—Chris’s culinary home for a decade—comes to an end, he’s feeling nostalgic and ready to get back in the kitchen.
“My job now is to teach,” said Chris. “I want each of my chefs to have better opportunities and greater success than I’ve had, and I’m here to help them achieve that. Whether that’s helping Nick Wong determine his vision for the future of UB Preserv or to provide an opportunity for Greg Peters to make cast iron-seared magic in a brand new kitchen built to his specs, I’m all in. But I also miss cooking every day, and I’m excited to feed guests again.”
The first dinner in the series will take place on Monday, November 1 at Georgia James (1100 Westheimer) for 10 people only. Guests will be seated at one community table, old-school Underbelly style, at the pass so guests will have a direct view of Chris in the kitchen, observing the entire process from breaking down a fish to garnishing the plate. There’s no advance menu, but it will be multiple courses. If you’ve dined with Chris, you know you won’t leave hungry!
Tickets will be purchased via a lottery system. Anyone interested in attending this dinner—or any future dinners (this is likely the only dinner in 2021, but he plans to resume the series next year)—will make a $20 donation to Southern Smoke. Anyone who makes a donation will be entered into the lottery. On Friday, October 29, five names will be chosen at random and contacted with a link to purchase the dinner for themselves and a guest. If payment isn’t received by Sunday, October 31, another name will be randomly selected from the lottery. Any names not chosen for the first dinner on November 1 will remain in the lottery for future dinners.
10 people only at $275 per person. Beverages and gratuity are additional.
The full Georgia James wine list and Chris' favorite select bourbons are available, but cocktails are not.