Mendocino corporate executive chef Jeremy Bringardner, Houston chef Chris Shepherd, Mendocino Farms owner Mario Del Pero
Chef Chris Shepherd's Charity Sandwich benefiting the Southern Smoke Foundation.
Mendocino Farms owners, husband and wife Mario Del Pero & Ellen Chen open their first Houston venture on July 18.
Chef Chris Shepherd and Mendocino Farms' Mario Del Pero share a good neighbor policy and an ethos of community enrichment.
Most Houstonians know that James Beard award-winner Chris Shepherd is one of the city’s most, if not the most, altruistic and amiable chefs. Consider his Southern Smoke Foundation, as one example. But few would expect a new kid on the block to jump on his bandwagon and partner in a sandwich collaboration with 100 percent of proceeds going to the foundation.
Hello, Mendocino Farms, which is opening its first Houston outpost in Rice Village on July 18. And in an unprecedented show of goodwill to the Houston restaurant community, owners Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen, also known for philanthropy across their home base in California, invited Shepherd to create a special sandwich which will be featured on their menu for one month.
Shepherd’s creation features his unique pecan wood-smoked bacon sausage which is garnished with “wedge slaw” (seasoned with fresh herbs and black pepper buttermilk dressing), red onions, tomato, and house-made roasted garlic aioli and served on a toasted brioche bun. Every penny of the sandwich’s cost will benefit Southern Smoke.
“I founded Southern Smoke to take care of our own,” Shepherd says. “I’m proud to say we’ve donated more than $1.3 million to help support people in our industry. Partnering with Mendocino Farms on a sandwich that gives back to Southern Smoke was a no-brainer for me. I fully support any initiative designed to raise money for this cause, and especially love that Mendocino Farms’ mission statement aligns so perfectly with ours.”
That sandwich and salad chain’s mission statement: “Our goal is for Mendocino Farms to enrich the lives of all it touches, whether that’s the farms and food artisans we partner with to source ingredients for the menu, the team members we rely upon to provide exceptional hospitality every day, or the guests who choose to seek us out.”
Originally established in downtown Los Angeles in 2005 , Mendocino Farms today has more than two dozen restaurants across California. While the Rice Village restaurant is their first outside of the Golden State, Del Pero and Chen have previously revealed plans to open in Uptown Park in the fall and downtown this winter. The Mendocino Farms website also teases a fourth Houston location at 600 N. Shepherd set to open in 2020.