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Culture / Restaurants

Huge Celebrity Chef Touts Houston as America’s Next Food Capital in National Mag — Thanks to Jeremy Lin

BY // 11.28.16

An internationally-renowned celebrity chef is declaring Houston “the next food capital” in America. And it all started with Jeremy Lin.

David Chang — of Momofuku fame — pens a love letter to H-Town in the new issue of GQ magazine. In the piece, Chang admits that the only reason he ever started visiting Houston and trying its food is because Lin left the Knicks to sign with the Houston Rockets. Chang, a huge Lin believer, apologizes for the tweet he sent out at the time that rattled Houston’s food community — and triggered a bunch of speculative new restaurant stories.

Chang tweeted that he would open a Momofuku in Houston just to be able to watch Lin play.

He never did, of course. But Chang did start visiting the Bayou City on the regular — and soon fell in love with the food (if not, we presume the often Lin Only Hating Rockets fans). In his new story in the December issue of GQ, Chang shows that his appreciation for Houston’s restaurant scene lasted through Lin’s moves to Los Angeles, Charlotte and Brooklyn.

He paints Houston as the food city of the future.

“I’ve always wondered where the food in a Blade Runner-like future would appear first and what it would taste like — and I genuinely believe it’s here,” Chang writes of Houston.

While the chefs David Chang singles out are predictable — Justin Yu of Oxheart and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly — he at least does it with original flair. “If Oxheart is a sniper rifle, then Underbelly (in the artsty Montrose neighborhood) is a shotgun — it takes the same carefully sourced local ingredients and blasts them into something Shepherd defines as New American Creole,” Chang writes.

Chang also shows appreciation for Houston’s “cheap commercial and residential rents” (remember, he’s used to New York City prices) and claims they create an environment where “broke-ass cooks and chefs can afford to live and open here.”

More on point (and more grounded in reality) is Chang’s appreciation of Houston’s diversity and what that means for a city’s restaurant world. “By some measures, Houston is the U.S.A.’s most ethnically diverse city (a bunch of New Yorkers just choked on their halal kekabs reading that, but it’s true), and when you get a collision of immigrants, the food scene is guaranteed to be bonkers.”

Yes, Houston is getting more major national love. This time, you can thank Jeremy Lin.

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