Chris Shepherd is the James Beard Award-winning Chef and Owner of Underbelly, his nationally acclaimed restaurant at 1100 Westheimer Rd. in Montrose.
Raised in the Midwest, Shepherd is an Art Institute alum and former Executive Sous Chef-turned-Sommelier at Brennan’s. He brings his farm-to-table passion to fruition at Underbelly, which features locally sourced food inspired by the ethnic diversity of Houston. The in-house butcher shop, which only uses whole animal, supports Shepherd’s passion for butchering and charcuterie.
Since opening Underbelly in 2012, Shepherd has been named the 2014 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest and one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine. Underbelly was named to the National Eater 38 (one of 38 essential restaurants in America) in 2015 and named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit and Esquire in 2014. Shepherd runs two Underbelly kiosks inside NRG Stadium, serving up football-friendly dishes during Houston Texans home games. In his free time, he cheers on his beloved Houston Texans, seeks out hard-to-find bottles for his ever-growing bourbon collection and explores the city for new restaurants.
Q&A with Underbelly’s Chris Shepherd
Biggest influences as a chef: The city of Houston.
Why Houston is a great place to have your restaurant: It’s the most culturally diverse city in the country. There’s endless inspiration here.
What you try to convey about the city/region with your menu: My menu is the city. We change it daily based on the product our local farmers bring to us, and the dishes are inspired by the people and the cultures that live here.
Last meal in Houston before leaving town, first meal upon returning: There’s no place like Houston for Vietnamese food. The first thing I do when I land in Houston is eat a bowl of pho. And you can’t beat a banh mi on the way to the airport.