Still Not Comfortable In Our Own Skin

A fascinating article from the Chronicle this morning about Houston-area chefs on a mission to New York City at the Ultimate Food Lover’s Taste of Houston:

Over two nights, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau will attempt to convince New York journalists and meeting planners that Houston is an emerging culinary destination.

“Without a doubt, this is the largest event we’ve done focused on dining,” says Lindsey Brown, GHCVB’s marketing director.

Houston annually promotes the city’s dining scene in New York, but usually through a single chef or eatery — and never with a brigade of 17, including Voice, Ibiza, Shade, Mockingbird Bistro, Mark’s American Cuisine, Kiran’s, Armandos, Max’s Wine Dive and Pesce.

With the recent release of The Ultimate Food Lover’s Guide to Houston, edited by Teresa Byrne-Dodge (Lazy Wood Press, $18), the bureau saw an opportunity to do something bigger by providing an overview of the city’s diverse dining scene and culinary talent.

“We hope to develop relationships with the attendees to work on future Houston stories, book a convention or develop a travel package with a tour operator,” Brown says. “So, just like with everything — (we’re) creating buzz.”


Part of me is happy that our chefs are displaying their many talents to the world.  They deserve credit and praise for their skills, creativity and hard work.  But the bolded part above really bothers me.

When are we going to stop cronying up to New York City (and Chicago and Los Angeles and any other major American city…) and begging them for recognition and approval?  WE DON’T NEED IT.  We don’t need New York City’s culinary elite to tell us that we’re good enough, we’re smart enough and — doggone it — people like us!  PLEASE.

We ARE good enough.  We’re better than good enough.  Houston is a city of amazing culture and diversity, with regard to our arts community, our business community, our residents and — of course — our restaurant community.  If other cities don’t recognize that, WHO CARES?  It’s all about being comfortable in our own skin, not sucking up like that desperate hanger-on we all remember from high school, constantly acting the sycophant to the popular crowd and always seeking external validation to assuage their multitude of internal flaws and issues.

We don’t need validation or approval from anyone, much less New York City.  This is Houston; it will never be New York.  It will never be Paris or London or Miami or Rio or Tokyo or anything other than welcoming, friendly, exciting, different, dynamic Houston.  And that is WONDERFUL.  Embrace it, folks.

9 thoughts on “Still Not Comfortable In Our Own Skin”

  1. It’s part and parcel of the “new world class” movement after all.

    Hell, we’ve got a mini-me version of Bryant Park, a mini-me version of public transportation, and we’ve always taken our cues from the NorthEastern big cities when it comes to the color of our police cars….

    Why shouldn’t our food scene be any different?

    New York is a great City, there’s no place like it in the world. Which, oddly enough, is why its a great City.

    Instead of being a mini-me verion of New York, Houston would do better to focus on ensuring that there is no place like it in the world.

  2. @ Randy: Let me further elaborate with this quote from Irma Galvan: “I’m so nervous, being in New York and pleasing people in New York. To me, they have such great chefs. … I’m just a home-grown girl, so I’m feeling a little intimidated.”

    She has no reason to feel intimidated or feel like she needs to “please” the NYC food scene. Irma is wildly successful here in Houston; she shouldn’t be made to feel like that’s not good enough, just because she’s successful in Houston instead of some other city.

  3. Really, they sent the chef from The Grove? Let’s hope that table was at the end of the line and all were full upon arrival. I had SUCH bad food there.

  4. Ms. Brown is trying to justify her existence at GHCVB by sending all these chefs to NYC. This is as bad as Chicago sending chefs to DC earlier this year to advertise their “high-end Taste of Chicago” that is taking place this month. I agree with you; we’re never going to be like NYC or LA, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s good! There’s too much pressure for restaurants to survive there (not that there isn’t here, but there’s at least a fighting chance in Houston).

  5. Nice job K, Irma’s comment stuck with me yesterday…my immediate thought was ” and they know good TexMex in NYC??”. It’s not about them, it’s about us – Houston rocks.

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