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TXDW Houston — Monogram’s Kitchen Confidential at CookChill

With Super Chefs Chris Williams, Robert Del Grande and Designers Gin Braverman and Courtnay Elias

BY // 07.12.22

Texas Design Week Houston cooked up an exciting panel at CookChill to discuss all things kitchen design. Both designers and professional chefs offered two points of view on what design elements make the best kitchen.

The panel featured Robert Del Grande, the recently retired executive chef and partner at The Annie Café & Bar, founding chef at Café Annie, and partner at The Grove and The Lake House; chef Chris Williams, founder of Lucille’s Hospitality Group and 2022 James Beard Award finalist; hospitality designer Gin Braverman, Gin Design Group and residential designer Courtnay Tartt Elias, Creative Tonic Design.

PaperCity’s Laurann Claridge — a former chef, now Claridge & King co-founder, who has covered the food and restaurant scene for the magazine for more than 20 years — moderated the proceedings.

The panel brought some culinary gravitas with chef Del Grande’s CV, which includes James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southwest, the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award, Food & Wine Honor Roll of American Chefs, and Who’s Who in American Cooking. He was also a Top Chef Houston 2022 All-Star Judge and has applied his BS in chemistry and biology and Ph.D. in biochemistry toward developing a formula for gin for his company Roxor Artisan Spirits.

Chef Williams, a 2022 James Beard Award Finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, was on Bon Appétit’s inaugural Heads of the Table awards list and Nation Restaurant News 2022 Power List. He also served as a Top Chef Houston 2022 All-Star Judge. His nonprofit, Lucille’s 1913, has provided more than 400,000 meals to Houstonians in need since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The design side was just as well-represented. Gin Braverman designed for HGTV’s extreme home remodel show Home Rules and has executed hospitality design for the Garden Bungalows and La Colombe d’Or, The Stomping Grounds Garden Oaks, and multiple Goode Company restaurants. Courtnay Elias’ vibrant work has appeared in House Beautiful and Elle Decor, as well as the 2021 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas.

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Guests ate up the panel’s discussion on everything from chef-approved kitchen organization strategies (keep your most-used items within reach — perhaps with a peg wall à la Julia Child) to fun features (Elias likes to install miniature martini fridges with all the trappings).

To showcase Monogram’s commercial and residential-grade luxury appliances, CookChill’s Jay Johnston prepared lamb meatballs with fresh herbs in the 5-in-1 speed cooking oven, shrimp in the hearth oven, and veggie-stuffed mushrooms compliments of the convection oven.

Bells and whistles aside, the panel all agreed on one thing: the simple joys of food and sharing it with friends and family. “When I was younger, I thought to be good, it had to be hard. But good cooking doesn’t have to be hard,” said Del Grande. “To see that, just pop open an oyster.”

PC Seen: CookChill owner Alan Nahman, Sarah Prazak, Emily Hanley, Athena Sazesh, Shannon Smith, Megan Strasburg, Bill Caudell, Dawn Ginn, Oscar Banta-Guevara, Alli Ryan Motley, Tracy Motley, Heather Lack,  Jailyn Marcel, Rebecca Frede, Martha Kirkwood, Stacy Ellington, Trisha Allen, Boomer Hudson, Camille Scott, Maureen Farah, and Jessica Bogs.

Texas Design Week Houston sponsors: Monogram Luxury Appliances, New Orleans Auction Galleries, Decorative Center Houston.

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