Whether he’s cooking for a table for two, or before a national TV audience of 200,000, Chef Christopher (“Chris”) Andrus is a multi-talented culinary showman. The newly named executive chef of Lancaster Houston Hotel, winner of The Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” – Season 3 in May, has shown his chops throughout an industrious career that began at age 16 working as a kitchen intern at a large business hotel.
“I knew early on that cooking was my passion,” says Chef Andrus, who learned the tools of his trade at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, The Art Institute of Houston and San Jacinto College. He further immersed himself in food, creating dishes and menus, as well as learning to run a kitchen, under the adept mentorship of such chef luminaries as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Bryan Caswell, among others.
At the helm of The Bistro at The Lancaster full-service restaurant and banquet catering, Chef Andrus is designing a new menu that will be “approachable, not super complex, but modern.” The food will have an international flair to reflectHouston’s ranking as the most diverse city in theU.S. “Houston is a melting pot and we’re creating a menu to reflect that – with accents from theMediterranean,France,Spain,Thailand,Korea andMorocco, for Houstonians and visitors alike to experience.”
His first menu is a Holiday Wonderland Brunch* to be offered Saturdays and Sundays starting Thanksgiving Weekend, November 29-30, through the month of December.
The 32-year-old Chef Andrus, who most previously served as executive chef of the farm-to-table restaurant, Sorell Urban Bistro, embraces the evergrowing ‘stay local’ movement. In fact, he started growing edible and flowering plants in his backyard forFFA (Future Farmers of America) when he was a junior atHumbleHigh School. (His variegated begonias were award-winners at the Houston Livestock Show.) He says sourcing local farmers for the finest quality in organic produce is the essence of his cuisine. His preference is to allow foods’ natural flavors to express themselves.
In addition to his talents in the culinary arts, Chef Andrus is a gifted singer, offering up everything from show tunes to Prince to Motown hits. “When my mom brought me downtown to see ‘Showboat’ when I was a kid, I fell in love with “Old Man River,” and signed up for choir and musical theater in high school,” he reminisced. “So working at The Lancaster is the perfect venue for me, especially since I’m known for my singing in the kitchen,” said Andrus, whose range is from tenor to bass. He has performed in “Rent,” “Godspell,” “Oklahoma!” and “Chicago” in school and with the Encore theater group.
“The Lancaster has always had a great pre- and post-theater and concert crowd, thanks to its exceptional food and location. Our goal is to attract other guests during show time, plus, introduce them to our special event catering,” said Chef Andrus. They also serve small plates menu for service in the lobby.
In addition, The Bistro is renowned for its power breakfasts with farm fresh scrambled eggs, house-made scones and granola bars, fresh fruits, as well as its business lunches. In addition to the new small bites menu for the public, the Hotel hosts a 5-6 p.m. wine hour for overnight guests to ease their day of traveling, touring or business meetings.
Information & Photo provided by Susan Farb-Morris.