Black-eyed peas, lady creamers, butter beans, zipper cream, purple hull, cream crowder peas—ask 2011 Houston Rising Star Chef Randy Evans what is his favorite variety of peas—or any other type of produce—and you receive a passionate, knowledgeable answer. Evans often handpicks his produce from the vine, soil, or the back of a farmer’s pick-up truck for the evening meal at his restaurant. He takes deep and competitive pride in sourcing the highest quality, fresh-from-the-earth product from local farmers and purveyors.
Evans, who grew up near his grandfather’s farm eating the freshest produce and vegetables and watching his mother bake countless country desserts, originally had no intention of becoming a chef. Instead, he studied biology at Baylor University, planning to become a doctor. But after hosting numerous dinner parties and bragging about his latest antique cookbook find to friends, he realized that the kitchen was where he truly belonged.
While completing the culinary program at The Art Institute of Houston in 1996, Evans joined Brennan’s of Houston and worked through every station and rank in the kitchen; he was appointed executive chef in November of 2003. In 2006 he published The Kitchen Table and received the gold medal in the cookbook category at the 11th Annual Independent Publisher Book Awards. The Kitchen Table features a plethora of recipes served over 15 years at the one-of-a-kind kitchen table at Brennan’s of Houston, situated in the middle of its bustling kitchen.
Evans’ other big culinary interest lies in organic gardening. “I knew a lot about gardening but wanted to learn more, so I recently completed a course on organic gardening offered by Urban Harvest,” he says. “I want to teach my kitchen staff to have respect for the food and ingredients we serve. Our chef’s garden will be a natural, sustainable garden with no chemicals, and cisterns to collect rain water.”
As for awards, Haven was named Best New Restaurant in Houston by My Table Magazine in October 2010, placed in the Top 20 Best New Restaurants in the Nation by Esquire Magazine in November 2010, one of 5 Best New Restaurants in the South by Southern Living in January 2011, and Second Best New Restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly in February 2011.
Chef Evans gives much of his time and energy to a number of philanthropic organizations and events in the Houston area such as Recipe for Success, Urban Harvest, Texas Foodways, and many more. Chef Evans currently serves as a spokesman and consultant for the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Shrimp Marketing Board and Texas Department of Forestry and Horticulture.