With only 30 years under her belt, 2011 Houston Rising Star Sustainability Chef Jamie Zelko has already spent half her life making a name for herself in the restaurant industry. Zelko graduated from the Art Institute of Houston with honors and a fistful of scholarships to travel to Beijing, Shanghai, and California. But ever the loyal Houstonian, it was to her native town that Zelko returned to begin her career.
Her early professional experience includes a roster of Houston favorites like Brennan’s of Houston with Chef Carl Walker, Ibiza with Charles Clark, Reef with Chef Bryan Caswell, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Bank at Hotel Icon, a position that resulted in numerous Jean-Georges gigs in New York. Even with so much Big Apple glamour at her fingertips, the chef once again reclaimed her Houstonian heritage, returning home to become executive chef at the Lancaster Hotel in Houston’s theater district.
Zelko’s work both at the hotel and at her new eponymous restaurant, Zelko Bistro, have earned her a plethora of praise, including “Best Up and Coming Chef in Houston” in 2007 by My Table, “Rising Star” by Restaurant and Hospitality in 2008, and a spot among Houston’s Modern Luxury “Best of Houston” for 2008. Her new bistro was recognized as “Best New Restaurant in 2010” by Texas Monthly and the Houston Press, and Zelko was named a “Top Professional on the Fast Track” for Houston in H-Texas Magazine in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Zelko Bistro is inspired by Zelko’s belief that good food should be available to everyone at a price they can afford. She channels this into her preparation of locally sourced ingredients, a regional wine list, and the warm environment of her sustainably remodeled, homey restaurant.