James Beard Award winning chef Chris Shepherd has become one of the great ambassadors for the city of Houston since opening his since-shuttered restaurant Underbelly in the Montrose neighborhood in 2012.


That restaurant celebrated the culinary influences and cultures that proliferate Houston, the most diverse city in the United States. Shepherd likely introduced some diners to Korean braised goat or even fish sauce, and he made a point of telling customers about the smaller restaurants around town that inspired his culinary curiosity and some of Underbelly’s dishes. The restaurant also brimmed with a sense of fun, its wine list a collab with Shepherd friend and Houston great Bun B.


Shepherd has since opened One/Fifth, a restaurant that has rotated concepts each year over the last several. It currently celebrates the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico and previously found such great success with its steakhouse concept, that the meat-lovers’ paradise was spun off into its own restaurant, Georgia James. Shepherd also operates UB Preserv, an Asian restaurant run by chef de cuisine Nick Wong that feels like something out of the Momofuku empire.


Shepherd, a regular at the Hot Luck Festival, returns to the capitol city this weekend for an appearance at the Texas Book Festival, where he will present his new book, "Cook Like a Local," which continues his celebration and exploration of the myriad immigrant cuisines of Houston and many of the people who inspired him and made Houston the dining wonderland it is today. Shepherd will appear at the Central Market Cooking Tent at 11th Street and Congress Avenue from 12:15 to 1 p.m. Sunday.


In the podcast linked below, we talk fish sauce, football, the staples every home cook should keep in his pantry, "Cook Like a Local" and more.