New Orleans Seafood Great Headed to Houston to Lead a Cooking School
Chef Tenney Flynn Embraces the Gulf Coast's BountyBY Shelby Hodge // 02.13.20
Chef Tenney Flynn brings his seafood mastery to Houston for a one-night cooking school.
Parmesan crusted fish from 'The Deep End of Flavor' cookbook by chef Tenney Flynn.
More Houstonians dine at GW Fins in New Orleans than diners from any other city.
Chef Tenney Flynn's new cookbook 'The Deep End of Flavor'
A Tuna Muffuletta Nicoise Salad from chef Tenney Flynn's cookbook, 'The Deep End of Flavor.'
GW Fins in New Orleans' French Quarte
Since opening GW Fins Restaurant in New Orleans in 2001, Chef Tenney Flynn has enjoyed ever-expanding fame, particularly among Houstonians who represent more diners at the French Quarter hotspot than guests from any other outside city. The seafood specialist and cookbook author is bringing his talents to Houston for one evening next week at Central Market.
In advance of that visit and in salute to his first cookbook, The Deep End of Flavor (August 2019, Gibbs-Smith, $30), we visited via email with the chef. Flynn is behind the success of GW Fins and the popularity of the book which features 100 seafood recipes with step by step instruction on everything from cleaning fish to the proper pans for cooking.
Not surprising, Flynn is an avid fisherman as well as a dedicated seafood chef.
PaperCity: What is it about seafood that makes it the focus of your dishes and your cookbook?
Tenney Flynn: Sixty-six percent of the edible fin fish varieties in the U.S. come out of the Gulf of Mexico, which is at our doorstep. There are dozens of fin fish and when you add oysters, shrimp and crawfish the sheer supply determines the menu. All the famous chefs from New Orleans didn’t get that way cooking beef and pork and chicken.
PC: What inspired you to write the book?
TF: There are a lot of the reasons that I wrote the book. The biggest was in response to customer requests at Fins as well as the fishing show. So many guests welcome the opportunity to try new types of fish and preparations at GW Fins, but they are hesitant to prepare fish at home. I wanted to eliminate this hesitancy and show people how easy cooking fish can be. Part of it was a legacy piece as well, I suppose.
PC: What do you hope the takeaway from the book is?
TF: I hope to remove the fear of cooking fish at home. It really is the quickest and easiest protein to prepare.
PC: How often do you do cooking classes like the upcoming one at Central Market?
TF: I don’t do a lot of cooking classes. I just did one at Macy’s De Gustibus in New York but I do quick instructional videos on the Big Fish Show. It’s a show that is produced in New Orleans and one that I have done for the past 18 years.
PC: Since opening GW Fins in 2001, has your cooking style changed?
TF: My style has evolved somewhat, I hope for the better. As the restaurant got busier and the staff better we can stretch out and do more complex dishes. We also added a lot of Asian flavors and ingredients as well as some from Mexico and Central America. I really enjoy traveling to these places and bringing back some of their unique flavors.
PC: What spices are integral to your cooking?
TF: Salt. Learn to use it. I like Paul Prudhomme’s seasonings for Creole dishes. Lemongrass, kaffir lime, curry paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp. Country ham. Lard. And butter. Lots of butter.
PC: Your preference fried or baked? Or is there room for both?
TF: We fry very few dishes at Fins — soft shell crabs, shrimp for garnishes and executive chef Mike Nelson’s famous Fin wings. We sauté and wood grill most dishes.
PC: What is your explanation for why so many Houstonians flock to GW Fins?
TF: I think Houstonians love to eat almost as much as New Orleanians. They appreciate our atmosphere and level of service as well as the food and drink.
Details on the chef’s cooking class at Central Market can be found here.
The cooking class menu centers around these recipes from the book: Tempura Shrimp, Vietnamese Glaze, Thai Mirliton Salad; Tuna Muffuletta-Nicoise Salad with Crispy Poached & Fried Egg; Parmesan-crusted Catch-of-the-Day with Brown Butter, Asparagus, Capers & Crabmeat; and Maple Syrup & Bourbon Pralines.