One of the most promising new restaurants of this year and a dining institution in Houston, both recently left their chefs in a relatively short period of time. Both Degus and Brennan’s of Houston have plans to go ahead without chefs Brandon Silva and Matt Staph respectively.
Silva’s departure from Degust is the bigger surprise. The chef, a veteran of Uchi, Holley’s and multiple stages in Europe, joined the Kirby Group in 2016 to oversee culinary operations at bars like Heights Beer Garden and Holman Draft Hall. Earlier this year, he teamed up with the group to launch Degust, the intimate tasting menu concept in Spring Branch.
“Since I started cooking, my goal has been to reach this place,” said Silva at a media preview in January. “It’s been in the works for the past four and a half years.”
Silva tells CultureMap that things just didn’t go as expected.
“As with certain things, we disagreed, we had creative differences,” he says. “Here I am now. That’s why I left. “
Steven Salazar, Kirby Group’s operational partner, says Degust will continue with sous chefs Javier Beccera and Rico Mackins as co-chefs. Salazar expects them to introduce a new menu in October and the restaurant will slightly adjust its design to reflect their interests. Sommelier Dale Ellington remains in charge of the drinks.
“This place is in good hands with the chefs Javier and Rico. I’ve put together a really solid team. You have very creative people, ”says Silva.
As for Brennan’s, Matt Staph’s departure is the restaurant’s third head chef since 2020, following the departure of Joe Cervantez to open Pier 6 Seafood and Joey Chavez who became a private chef. Staph joined the restaurant in April after working as the head chef at Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth.
“After working together for a while, Matt let us know that he was looking for something else. We wish him all the best, ”says Brennan’s owner Alex Brennan-Martin. “It was a little surprise for us, but we wish him all the best.”
For his part, Staph was short and sweet about the situation. “At the end of the day, that just didn’t suit me,” he wrote in a press release. “Good luck to her, but I have bigger and brighter things in my future.”
Currently, General Manager Carl Walker and Creole chef Jose Arevalo are in charge of the kitchen. Brennan-Martin says he is interested in interviewing candidates but unwilling to rush the process at a time when so many restaurants are still struggling to find staff.
“We don’t have a long time frame either. We’ll just pull it off, ”he says. “As I’ve told a lot of people who ask me about business, I have a two-word answer for you: ‘We’ll see.’ I’m out of the prediction business. “